Tag Archives: Marketing

The Museum Advertising Model

Mad Museums? Yes. We are definitely this cool

There are few things in this world as simple and pure as museum advertising. The standard museum ad quickly gets to the heart of what a museum has to offer. The basic outline of many such ads looks like this:

Come to the museum for our self-guided or daily guided tours, experience one of our special events, and spend time with our art, history, and/or science.

This exciting formula touches people viscerally by showcasing the wonderful experiences the museum has created. It never fails to attract a visitor or two (sometimes, though rarely, even three or four).

To help demonstrate how effective the whole thing is, we applied this age-old advertising strategy to other social venues. Here is what we got:

Movie Theaters – Come down to view our selection of movies (all with sound!). We also have a concession stand, seats with cupholders, and large viewing screens.

Amusement Parks – We offer big and small rides, fried food, and live entertainment. As a bonus we have balloons (helium and animal-shaped) and maps of our park.

Restaurants – The restaurant serves food and drink, accompanied by condiments, all listed on a handy menu. For your convenience we also provide tables, chairs, dishes, and flatware.

Doesn’t the museum advertising model inspire you to rush right down to these places? We thought so.


Colonial Williamsburg’s Ads Are No Longer Creepy

Last year Colonial Williamsburg released new television commercials which we called creepy, as you can see here. This year, evidently emboldened by the previous year’s successful marketing campaign, they have released two new commercials. Fortunately 2014’s crop of ads are much more direct, easily understandable, and not creepy at all.

In fact, they’ve jumped from creepy to downright frightening. If these commercials are any indication, they believe that history isn’t interesting, but if you like violence, sadism, masochism, public shaming, and human rights violations, than Colonial Williamsburg is the place for you.

While we at the American Hysterical Society believe strongly in the right for all museums to make a buck so they can continue to operate, please won’t you join us in not visiting Williamsburg this year and  help us end these senseless and cruel commercials.

Remember, the history you save could be your own.

Modern Acquisition Decisions


What Do You Get When You Mix History and Odd Behavior?

Colonial Williamsburg’s recent television ad campaign!

We here at the American Hysterical Society firmly believe that history doesn’t sell. The History Channel is all the proof you’ll ever need of that. Most Americans are not interested in pure history, research, interpretation, or historiography (we’d bet most of you were turned off just reading that sentence). This puts museums in an increasingly difficult position. We’re trained to do that boring stuff, but boring stuff does not resonate with our potential visitors. So we turn to ad agencies, people experienced in spinning and selling, for help.

When these two worlds meet it can make for some awkward moments, as you can watch below.

This one is aimed at couples. We’re not sure what kind of couples. The word boogie suggests it’s geared for those in their 50s or 60s who fondly remember their courtship during the Bicentennial.

Then there’s this one where a folk art “couple” discuss their possible vacation plans, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds (oh, and we hate to break it them, but folk art doesn’t exist).

These next three are different cuts of the same commercial wherein your visit to CW will cause some stranger to invade your home, join you in the shower, spend time in the bathroom with your tweenage daughter, give your son the gift of sadism, and seduce your wife (by the way, we think they should have replaced the alarm clock buzzer with a crowing cock).

So why did Colonial Williamsburg commission these new ads? Sally McConnell, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s director of strategic communications, said they went in this new direction because, “It’s time for us to break through the perception that this is just a fourth-grade field trip.” It worked. It’s clearly a fifth grade field trip now. And a disturbing one at that.


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