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    The billboards appeared in July. “Chris, let’s talk about your performance issues.” “Chris, you’ll need to sit down for this.” “Chris, maybe we should try roleplaying.” Fifteen different messages. Signed: Jessica. A Reddit thread appeared almost immediately, trying to figure out who was responsible. Sex shop? Divorce lawyer? Something about U of L’s new basketball coach, Chris Mack? The billboard company, Outfront Media Advertising, was inundated with calls. WAVE-3 did a story.

    The mysterious messages were supposed to be up for two weeks, but as journalists got close to cracking the case, the group behind the billboards decided to do the unveiling after only one week. Nope, not an erectile-dysfunction clinic. The Louisville Ballet, with advertising agency Mightily. Jessica was trying to persuade Chris to buy ballet tickets. “The previous leadership was being conservative about the art,” says Cherie Perez, the ballet’s marketing director. “If you put up a pair of pointe shoes, people aren’t going to be engaged.”

    Within a few days of the reveal, Perez says the ballet had sold $17,000 in new subscriptions. This “season of romance” — Perez says there’s an actual couple named Chris and Jessica, by the way, who attend the ballet — began with a performance of Romeo and Juliet that Perez describes as “the Met Gala meets Game of Thrones” and ends with Cinderella in April.

    “People were surprised that this was our campaign, but I don’t want the ballet to seem like a luxury,” Perez says. “You still have people coming in furs and gloves, but it’s OK to wear jeans and flip-flops. We just want you to experience the art.”

    This originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine on page 94. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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    Part of "33 Reasons We Love Our Arts Scene"

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