Communication Mantle

Reflections on Opera Europa's Marketing & Communications forum 27-29 October 2018 in Tenerife

'All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories' is the provocative title of a brilliant book by marketing guru Seth Godin: “Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea. Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it.”
In late October, marketing & communications staff from opera houses and companies across Europe met at the spectacular Auditorio de Tenerife for an inspirational couple of days talking about storytelling. Between the heavy downpours and bright autumn sunshine, concepts were debated, case studies scrutinised and best practice shared. To give you a flavour of the conversation, here are just a few memories of the forum.
The opening session from Ingo at McCann Spain set the context, that good stories have the same effect on our brains as drug addiction or falling in love. Ingo talked us through techniques and structures of storytelling and showed how a story can be told through advertising in just 3 seconds ('the unskippable advert').
Elodie & Sophie from Opera national de Paris told us about their season campaign 'What’s the story?' and inspirational examples of production promotion including the use of drones to capture new angles of the set design, and how to use Instagram to capture the essence of a story in two sentences.
Nitchka from Dutch National Opera & Ballet explained how they are making their opera more 'showable' and 'shareable' through innovative digital content, and also how running events for influencers – and opening up access – has helped them reach potential new audiences.
Ing-Marie and Lena from GoteborgsOperan shared their 'close-up' video profiles and inspired us all with how they launched their new identity in 2017 by combining their values as a thinking and changing organisation with their relationship with the sea.
Josep from Molina Visuals talked about how rebrands for the Opheus Chamber Orchestra and Mahler Chamber Orchestra changed the story for the orchestras themselves whilst staying true to their values.
Katja from Finnish National Opera & Ballet demonstrated how a season campaign was able to be re-purposed when the initial campaign was overtaken by political events, and reassured us that it could be possible to empower individuals departments internally to run their own Instagram accounts, attracting followers interested in their craft – again reaching potential new audiences in authentic and organic ways.
This was a richly rewarding and thought-provoking forum with ideas shared, new friendships formed. Our generous hosts made us feel exceptionally welcome and the opening night party for L' Italiana en Algeria was truly transformative as the foyers and outdoor spaces burst into life for a celebration that was inclusive not exclusive for the whole audience.
The next meeting of the Marketing & Communications fourm will be during Opera Europa's spring conference in Antwerp between 25-28 April. Planning is now underway for a larger Marketing & Communications forum in autumn 2019.


Matt Carwardine-Palmer, Director of Marketing & Sales, Welsh National Opera