In an exciting presentation conducted by Lila Honaker, director of marketing and outreach at the Historic Tennessee Theatre, the audience learned about the specialized marketing campaign, media blitz and brand refresh utilized to celebrate the theatre’s 90thanniversary.
“Anniversaries are like birthdays: occasions to celebrate and to think ahead, usually among friends with whom one shares not only the past but also the future.” – Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Tennessee Theatre’s story begins on October 1, 1928 when it was opened as an escape to life’s troubles. This “otherworldly” movie palace took 11 months and around $1 million dollars to build. After years of touching the lives of locals, the theatre closed for a few years in the early 1970s. In 1981, Jim A. Dick purchased the theatre to save it from becoming a parking lot. After a few years, in 1996, he started a nonprofit and donated the theatre with the mission to “make sure that the Tennessee Theatre is accessible and available to all.” Since then, the theatre has undergone a massive renovation, totaling $28 million dollars, which was funded by various corporations and individuals.
October 1, 1928 The Tennessee Theatre opened its doors
After giving a brief introduction of the Tennessee Theatre’s extensive history and impact on Knoxville, Honaker jumped into a description of the long list of events and celebrations surrounding the theatre’s 90thanniversary. Celebrating such a big milestone presented Honaker’s team with “a once in a decade opportunity … to cement some of our nonprofit messaging.”
“We really wanted to connect with the community,” she explained. “Because part of our mission is being a theatre for everybody, we wanted this 90thanniversary to be able to touch everybody from all walks of life, from all backgrounds … as diverse as we possibly could.”
With Oct. 1 being the theatre’s official anniversary, Honaker and her team created the campaign “90 days for 90 years,” with special events and online messaging celebrating the monumental milestone from October until the end of the year.
As a kick-off for their 90-day celebration, the Tennessee Theatre hosted a speakeasy party. The main idea behind this event was not about one piece of entertainment, but a way to experience the theatre in a way that it had never been experienced before. This monumental cocktail party opened by leading the audience down a side alley and in through a secret entrance. Once they entered, they were greeted with food and beverages, jazz band, swing band and photo booth. This event was focused on celebrating the roaring twenties when the theatre was built and to emphasize the brand message of creating experiences, memories and stories.
The Tennessee Theatre has a full docket of events, merchandise and more – some of which has not even be announced to the public yet. To secure awareness for this celebration, they have created a new logo, secured pole banners throughout the downtown area, created specialty pins for staff and flooded the media with information about their festivities.
Tennessee Theatre’s New Logo
While reflecting on the past 90 years, the Tennessee Theatre staff also used this time to look ahead at what they wanted their brand to become in the future. Using this 90thanniversary as a transitional period, Honaker’s team was able to rebrand the theatre with an emphasis on patron experience.
“Creating an iconic brand that captures the essence of the theatre starts by knowing who we are,” she said.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the patron experience, audience members were polled in the lobby, through email and on boards. These insights helped direct the rebrand.
The Tennessee Theatre unveiled a new logo, redesigned their website and changed out their bar signage, all with an emphasis on a cleaner, more modern look. With the theme of “A New Look for an Icon,” Honaker and her team had to ensure that the rebranding campaign encompassed the tradition of the well-loved building. The new designs incorporate patterns and visuals from the architecture of the theatre itself into their new branding.
“This theatre means a lot to a lot of people and we want to share that.”
Written by: Anna Wilt
Drew Bedard, the Vice President of Brand/Customer Marketing at Bristol Motor Speedway, led the audience at the AMA Knoxville September Luncheon through his methods of storytelling. His goal was for everyone to “have fun and walk away with something actionable.”
Bedard dives into an explanation of why you should strive for story telling with your brand. The first is the idea of “Noise v Music.” Bedard compares “noise” to a confusing ad that your brain can’t understand. American consumers are bombarded with noise. Your ads should be music that tells your customer your brand story.
Since “clarity is key,” it is imperative that your ad be as clear as possible in order to capture and keep your audience’s attention. Bedard uses Apple as a prime example of this form of clear storytelling. “Stories make so much sense” in the marketing world because American’s are “starving for stories.” People spend $500B a year at the movies. This is evidence that your brand should be capitalizing on this need for stories.
The structure of a story includes some fundamental components that can translate into your brand storytelling. The first of these key features is “the hero.” Each of these heroes has a conflict or problem that they must overcome. In order to overcome this issue, they need a guide to give them a plan and call them to action. Bedard describes this structure using pop culture references, such as Luke Skywalker and Yoda in Star Wars.
In this structure, your customer must be the “hero.” Your product and brand need to be the “guide” that gives them a plan to lead them to action and overcome their problem. For this structure to work, Bedard recommends to “boil it down to how a brain can understand it.” He suggests that even something as simple as a big, red button on your website that says “BUY NOW” can be a solution to your customer’s problem.
When applying this process to Bristol Motor Speedway, Bedard found his “heroes,” or customers, to be blue-colored, Southern individuals looking for an amazing experience. Their problem is that they “lead stressful lives” and need an outlet to relax and “feel a sense of community.” His team then presents their brand as a guide to help their customers overcome their problem. Bristol Motor Speedway is marketed as an exciting, custom experience to share with a like-minded community.
The best way to organize your company’s brand is to come up with The Statement, or “The One Liner.” According to Bedard, this is a critical step in the process to simplifying your brand’s story. To come up with this “One Liner,” you will need to identify “the problem, the solution and the reward.” Bedard’s team worked to come up with a one liner that applied to Bristol Motor Speedway.
“People have stressful lives and want to have fun. We give them a place to escape, engage in community and enjoy sports and entertainment, so they can make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Bedard challenged the audience to go back to their office that afternoon and come up with a statement like this that would apply to their brand. He stressed the necessity of making this statement as clear and concise as possible.
Knoxville AMA Announces New Brand Identity and Website
It really began a year ago. An inspiring video debuted at the American Marketing Association’s 2016 Leadership Summit Conference. As professional marketers, we quietly watched what was intended to convey to us a drive, a need, a motivation for reinvention, for a new brand. A child’s expression. Don Draper. The importance of smart communication. Yes, AMA got it right and, most importantly, energized us to go home and make the new AMA brand our own.
Our chapter adaptation of the new brand initiated in earnest as one topic among 22 at our annual retreat on June 23, 2016. A new board member, Lee Hume, senior art director in the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee, volunteered to chair the process of adapting AMA Knoxville to the new brand guidelines. Within the multistep process, we kicked off development of a new AMA Knoxville website to be launched alongside the brand identity. Daniel Monday, immediate past president of AMA Knoxville and COO at Slamdot Web Design & Hosting, chaired the website development initiative, with Slamdot donating its time and work to build and populate the website.
The launch goal date was April 12, 2017, to coincide with the Rebranding UT luncheon featuring Margie Nichols, retired vice chancellor for the Office of Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee. Today, amid balloons, custom branded t-shirts, and take-home bags of signature cookies, we proudly launched the new AMA Knoxville brand identity and website. We invite you to get to know us by our new look and experience the website.