Magic Month: Marketing Magic through the Ages

October 04, 2012

Harry Houdini, a name that will probably come up a few times during magic month, once said “I get more advertising space without paying for it than anyone in the country” and it was true. With his stunt-like tricks and brazen public challenges, the master illusionist making the front pages of newspapers wherever he travelled, Houdini seemed to have a knack for capturing the public imagination – a valuable tool for anyone looking to sell tickets for theatre shows. Then again, a valuable tool for anyone looking to sell...well, anything.

We often talk about using entertainment to sell a product or promote a brand at an event. Great entertainment has a way of sticking in people’s heads long after the keynote speeches and PowerPoint lectures have ended – Magic is no different. In fact, magic might even be better, leaving an audience puzzling over the intricacies of a trick days after an event.

Cross Promotion

One of Houdini’s greatest innovations was to challenge the public to find something that he couldn’t escape from and so, the public came forth with handcuffs, cabinets and manacles in the hope that they would finally foil the world renowned escapologist. A great publicity stunt in itself, but Houdini took it one step further. Often these challenges tasked him with escaping from a milk crates, riveted boilers and mailbags – all of which were arranged with local merchants, knowing full well that the star power of Houdini was enough to sell a few extra riveted boilers.

Storytelling through Magic

People like a narrative; advertisers know this, which is why we end up with ads telling long multi-part stories about couple falling passionately in love over cups of instant coffee. It’s an idea that we can put to use in our entertainment; everything from set dressing to costume can help an act tell a story but great acts can weave a story into the performance. Take a look at this video of magician Billy Kid (who came into our office, you know) performing tricks in an advert for o2 to see how to use magic to tell a story.

Reflecting the Qualities of a Brand or Product   

During ‘Dance Month’ we discussed how advertisers used dance to reflect the strengths of a particular product; things like strength, agility, speed or sophistication are easy to convey through entertainment and magic is no different. Apart from the obvious association with a product being ‘Magic’, there are plenty of clever ways to use magic tricks to suggest the strengths of a product or the values of a brand – things like intuitiveness, connectivity, durability can all be expressed through sleight of hand, mind reading, escapology and other forms of illusions and stunts.

The trick (tee hee) is to fit the magician to the right product, brand or event in advance and let them work the key themes or brand values into their act. With enough time and planning it's 

If you’re looking to book a magician for an upcoming corporate event, head over to our contact page and get in touch. Oh... and remember to keep an eye on the blog all through magic month or risk missing something magic.