You don't have to
be a hustler to be a promoter—which is fair enough since you don't have to be a
promoter to be a hustler either. But it helps. Noah Webster offers as his
preferred definition for the verb promote: "To advance in station, rank or
honor: Raise—opposed to demote." The best he can do for promoter is:
"One that forwards or advances."
So that's what a
promoter does? As the first assignment in this class we will now all burn our
dictionaries and get on to the working definition, complete with illustrations,
gesticulation and grimaces:
archaeologist recently deciphered the quaint markings and scrawlings on a wall
in Syracuse which depicted the stirring saga of one Tuttutantutt, a prehistoric
promoter who was forced to beat a hasty exit from that normally hospitable city
when half of his bearbaiting team failed to show up. He did manage, it seems,
to maintain his composure well enough to take the day's receipts with him—which
resulted in the complete destruction of the arena by his irate customers.
Tuttutantutt not only kept the receipts, he had his customers provide their own
show. That's a promoter.
Some years later,
in Rome, during the rather lively reign of Emperor Nero, we read of two
promoters who had somewhat worse luck. These boys not only lost the entire
day's receipts, they ended up in the show themselves when their regular jobber
ran short of unrepentant Christians during the May Day rush. We are indebted to
Tacitus for this fascinating insight into early Italian merchandising, and
since neither he nor any of his fellow gossip columnists thought it necessary
to make any further mention of our boys, we must assume that the lions were a
big winner that day.
That's the way it
goes in the promoting business, class. Win a few, lose a few.
promotion rules I can think of are that a sense of shame is to be avoided at
all costs, and there is never any reason for a hustler to be any less cunning
than more virtuous men.
Oh yes, one thing
more. Whenever you think you've got something really great, add 10% more.
It isn't enough
for a promotion to be entertaining or even amusing; it must create
conversation. When a fan goes home and talks about what he has seen, he is
getting an additional kick out of being able to say that he was there. Do not
deny him that simple pleasure, especially-since he is giving you invaluable
word-of-mouth advertising to add to the newspaper, radio and TV reports.
It is no secret
that I have always felt that incongruity is the soul of laughter in a ball
park. Ideally, a promotion should be incongruous and—since we are not dealing
here in pushcart peddlers—it should involve a ballplayer.
Let us begin with
a simple example. If I were to present a player with a check I would be helping
his budget, but I would be doing very little for myself promotionally unless I
were content with a smattering of applause from the audience, a brief mention
at the bottom of the notes columns and a perfumed thank you note from his