Filling up a plush hotel ballroom with 4,000 Cebuanos on a Monday three days before payday proved to be a challenging task when organizers of the Cebu hit Diva2Diva concert began selling tickets during the long 2008 Christmas vacation.
To recall, both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on a Thursday. Considering that the Philippines celebrated Jose Rizal Day – to commemorate the death of the national hero – on December 30, 2008, the whole country experienced the longest Christmas holiday in years. Filipinos came back for work only on January 5, 2009.
The concert was set on December 12, 2009 – the Monday right before Cebu’s grand Santo Niño feast and Sinulog festival the next weekend. Competing for attention was another concert at the same venue on a Friday featuring a comedienne Pokwang of a popular television noontime show that appealed to a wider audience.
Two contrasting feedbacks immediately met PRWorks Inc. Managing Director Doris Mongaya on December 29, 2008, the Monday after Christmas. The agency handled sales and marketing for this grand pre-Sinulog event.
Cebu socialites, business executives and top government officials who stayed in Cebu during the long Christmas vacation were excited to learn that three Philippine divas – Kuh Ledesma, Pops Fernandez and Zsa-Zsa Padilla along with popular male singers Erik Santos and Jed Madela – would perform in a pre-Sinulog concert at the Grand Pacific Ballroom of the Cebu City Waterfront Hotel and Casino on January 12, 2009.
They began buying tickets for choice seats in bulk. After New Year’s Day, practically all the choice seats in the first five rows were filled up.
However, tickets in public outlets in Cebu City’s top malls – Ayala Commercial Center and SM City – were not selling fast as expected during the long vacation. Many prominent Cebuanos were out of town while others complained that a Monday several days before payday was not a good day for the difficult Cebuano market. The middle class meanwhile preferred to buy tickets for the Pokwang show.
With most of the Diva2Diva tickets pegged at P2,500 and P2,000, the initial feedback from ticket outlets was negative in the sense that Cebuanos are accustomed to less expensive concerts in the past. Moreover, the neophyte producer refused to invest in full-page newspaper ads but instead focused on posters placed in malls, call center officers, restaurants, and Cebu nightlife hangouts.
With only eight days to sell tickets starting on the day people begin going back for work, PRWorks Inc. was presented with a dilemma. Would it push for a slashing of the ticket prices to respond to the feedback received from ticket outlets? Or would it persevere in the set pricing scheme but focus on specific niches to fill up the rest of the plush Waterfront ballroom?
After assessing the situation, PRWorks Inc. decided to push through with the pricing scheme.
However, the agency also launched a public relations campaign designed to reach out a non-traditional concert market. According to Doris Mongaya of PRWorks Inc., “We set out to reach out people who have money to spend and don’t rely on the 15th day paycheck but have yet not decided on what entertainment fare they intend to enjoy during the pre-Sinulog days.
To achieve this, the agency pushed for the putting up of a big billboard befitting a grand pre-Sinulog extravaganza at the busy Gen. Maxilom Avenue. Then, instructions were issued to place the remaining posters at luxury dining destinations around Metro Cebu.
This was followed by press releases positioning the concert as the grandest pre-Sinulog event with a special focus on the Cebuano glitterati falling over each other seeking choice front seats. The subliminal message sent was: “This is THE pre-Sinulog concert. One has to be there or you’re not ‘in.’”
On December 8, 2009, PRWORKS Inc. conducted a press conference at the plush Chinese cuisine destination The Ching Palace that featured phone patch interviews with the divas. An excited local entertainment media responded with prominent features about the Diva2Diva show that week until weekend.
These moves worked like magic on the target audience. Ticket sales grew exponentially especially the premium P2,500 tickets as well as the pang-masa and middle class P300, P700 and P1,000 tickets.
Known socialites who came home from their extended vacations outside Cebu started calling the different ticket outlets reserving what choice seats were left.
Hours before show time, Cebu’s well-heeled high society crowd came in their party’s best quite early to settle in their reserve seats. The hundreds who came to buy at the last minute had to settle for the remaining seats worth P2,000. The other categories were already sold out.
True to their reputation as Philippine divas, Kuh Ledesma, Pops Fernandez and Sza-Sza Padilla wowed Cebu’s high society crowd – which is admittedly a difficult audience to please – with a grand three-hour extravaganza that set the tone for the week’s Sinulog festivities.
Links to Diva2Diva publicity that appeared online:
- Sinulog 2012 Route Maps (mycebuphotoblog.wordpress.com)
- Think Cebu (inbetweencolumns.wordpress.com)
- Public Relations in southern Philippines this 2012 (a) (prworks.wordpress.com)
- Sinulog 2012 Schedule of Activities (mycebuphotoblog.wordpress.com)
- Virgin Island (?) Cebu @ Sinulog 2011 (whoanderpul.wordpress.com)
- Public Relations in southern Philippines this 2012 (b) (prworks.wordpress.com)
- Public Relations in southern Philippines this 2012 (c) (prworks.wordpress.com)
- Public Relations in southern Philippines this 2012 (d) (prworks.wordpress.com)
- New tourism slogan is trending in Twitter (prworks.wordpress.com)