Bombay Dreams: Attracting South East Asians to Broadway
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News November/December 2004
“Bombay Dreams: Attracting South East Asians to Broadway”
Q&A with Sudhir Vaishnav, President, EsVee Consulting and Marketing Services, and
Associate Producer of Bombay Dreams
How did you first become involved with Bombay Dreams?
I presented composer A R Rahman’s concerts in the USA in 2000. At that time he was already busy with the London production and I showed keen interest in being involved with the project. Mr. Rahman introduced me to Andrew Lloyd Webber and his company, Really Useful Group, and Waxman Williams. Now, I am very much involved with the show on a day-to-day basis. Liaising with our PR company, Barlow Hartman, and our marketing consultant, Margery Singer, and company and community outreach programs. I have been a pioneer in bringing theatrical and musical concerts from India for the past thirty years and I continue do so. I have arranged concerts nationwide in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, etc. I am also currently involved with producing East West Fusion Musical albums. I am also planning to take a tour of Broadway Productions to the Indian sub continent and the Far East.
What media is used to market the show? Who is responsible for contacting the Indian media in U.S.?
I work very closely with most major South East Asian media. India Abroad, News India Times, India Today, TV Asia, ITV/Vision of Asia RBC Radio, EBC Radio. I have a one-on-one relationship with the media and I personally make sure each detail is carried out meticulously and my clients get the best ROI in reaching the targeted market.
Describe your marketing outreach via community organizations.
I am very actively involved with several community organizations in various capacities. I am also the Vice President of Federation of Indian Associations, which is the largest umbrella organization, having approximately 110 regional organizations as its members. I recently invited Mr. A R Rahman as the Grand Marshall for our India Day Parade in Manhattan. We had cast appearing on our Bombay Dreams float. The leading members of the cast also appeared at the Grand Gala Banquet in honor of the Grand Marshall.
What percent of the audience would you say is South East Asian?
The audience split is 70/30. Approximate attendance of people of SE Asian origin is 30%. We have a very diversified attendance from other ethnic communities. The other interesting factor is the age group. It is a very family oriented show and Rahman has his own following from grandchildren to grandparents.
What is the audience reaction?
The audience just loves it. They give a standing ovation every night and go out dancing to the lilting tunes of Bombay Dreams.
“Bombay Sapphire Gin: Sponsor of Bombay Dreams
Mel R. Korn, whose career is devoted to consumer marketing, is credited with putting together the partnership between Bombay Dreams and Bombay Sapphire Gin. Korn formed a company named The Entertainment Partnership, which invests in live theatre (Swing, The Producers, Hairspray, and Flower Drum Song), as well as bringing new corporate investors into the world of live theatre. Korn is Vice Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi X, a separate company owned by Saatchi & Saatchi, which focuses on the shopper phase of marketing. Among his clients are major blue chip packaged goods corporations. Here, he tells Multicultural Entertainment News how the sponsorship came about.
The costs of Broadway musicals have escalated to point of being in the stratosphere. They are in the $12, 14, 16 million dollar proportion. And this is just to get the show stage ready. It has nothing to do with cost of operating every week. Broadway needs to begin to find other avenues to raise funds. In order for Broadway to make it, in the long term, it will need more corporate investments. Big commercial companies- i.e. Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, P&G, General Mills often invest a lot of money in feature films. Hollywood gets these sponsorships. In feature films and in commercials for new films, you see products such as Pepsi, etc. in the fridge. Live theatre has not tapped this end of market and it is an important potential source of investor and marketing partnerships. New sources of investment in live theater are greatly needed. Companies can find shows that are relative to the brand/products/services they market and can integrate them into live theatre. When I read the script and saw artist sketches of the set of Bombay Dreams…the colors, the blue color, and the thought of Bombay, India prompted me to write to Bacardi. Bacardi owns Sapphire Gin. Also, there seemed to be a need for a new a cocktail in New York (now named Bombay Dreams). I sent my thoughts to Bacardi and they responded positively and spoke about how they could be involved. This was the beginning of the relationship between Bacardi and Bombay Dreams. The relationship developed into a marketing partnership with promotions, social activities and PR work involved. The drink, “Bombay Dreams,” which was developed through Bacardi research and lab work, has an exciting light blue color, is presented in a martini glass, and can actually be ordered in bars today! And, naturally available at the bars in the Broadway theatre.