So, you think you have problems with marketing?
What are you trying to sell? A product or service people can get a hundred other places? Something that other people sell way cheaper than you?
New Orleans business leaders in the late 1800s would scoff. They wish they had your problems.
The year is 1871. Our scarred and beaten nation is just 5 years past the Civil War. Americans lost more than 600,000 husbands and sons to the war. Those who survived were left to clean up the rubble and rebuild.
The Civil War was especially hard on the city of New Orleans which was already struggling with a bit of a reputation problem.
New Orleans was known as a dirty, loud, mosquito infested port.
City leaders needed to attract money and powerful people to New Orleans. They needed to “sell” their city to the rest of the world. Today we’d call it a “rebranding” campaign.
One thing New Orleans has always known how to do is throw a good party. It’s in our blood.
And in 1871, a small group of local business men pulled off a genius marketing move. They targeted their audience.
Around that time, the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia was visiting the eastern coast of the United States. He was no ordinary Grand Duke. Alexis liked to party. In fact, he really liked burlesque.
More specifically, he had a well documented “thing” for Lydia Thompson and Lotta Crabtree, 2 of the leading burlesque stars of the time.
What happened next was perhaps the ultimate expression of persona based influencer marketing in the history of the world.
A “krewe” of local New Orleans businessmen formed The School of Design. It’s goal – to organize a burlesque style parade complete with it’s own King. Rex would rule over the entire city for the day, including monarchy in a grand masquerade.
For good measure, they choose as their theme song one of Lydia’s most popular tunes “If Ever I Cease To Love”.
The Duke was already on the east coast. Is there any chance he could resist a trip to New Orleans with a burlesque parade featuring music from his favorite gals?
Not a chance.
Did it work?
What the founders of Rex did in 1871 is what we might refer to as “developing personas” and “influencer marketing”. But more than 145 years later…those guys are still Kings! And we rightly pay homage to them each year on Fat Tuesday!
Do you need some advice on turning your marketing around? Contact us today to get started!