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CD Giveaway Racks Up $1M in Ticket Sales for Musical

The Broadway musical “Hairspray” has generated more than $1 million in ticket sales from a direct mail campaign that sent CDs with three songs from the show to 325,000 people.

The mailing, which cost $200,000, “was a little different, and more expensive than most shows are able to do,” said Greg Corradetti, group director at Serino Coyne Inc., the New York advertising agency that prepared the campaign. “But, everybody had that much confidence in the show and the music, and there was no question that if we could get the music into people's hands, [the campaign] would pay for itself.”

The direct mail piece went out in May, promoting the musical based on the John Waters movie about a pudgy teen's obsession with a TV dance show in 1962 Baltimore. Previews began July 18, and the show officially opens Aug. 15.

It was sent to people in the New York metropolitan area who previously bought theater tickets. Names were gathered from Broadway theater mailing lists and lists from Telecharge and Ticketmaster.

Measuring 5 inches by 5 inches, copy on the front of the mailer read, “This summer, all of Broadway is going to be singing a brand-new tune. Here's your chance to hear it first!” Inside, there was more copy about the show, the CD sampler and a toll-free number and Web site for ordering tickets. Tickets normally costing $95 were offered for $55.

The producer used an aggressive direct mail campaign for “Hairspray” partly because the show opens in the summer, Broadway's slowest time of the year, Corradetti said.

“There is always that feeling that people are away and not focusing on Broadway in the summer,” Corradetti said.

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