I saw Bruce Springsteen play Wembley Stadium (the old one) in nineteen eighty something.
(In fact it was July 1985 and I think I’ve found – and borrowed – an image from that very concert.)
And I saw The Rolling Stones play Wembley Stadium in nineteen ninety something.
Two big brands. Same platform. Both with access to an engaged community of 70 odd thousand fans. Two very different approaches. And two very different outcomes.
The Rolling Stones acted like a typical advertiser.
The production values were high. The content was slick and well rehearsed. And they “broadcast” said content to a captive audience that was kept at arm’s length.
It wasn’t a concert to write home about. It certainly wasn’t a concert that I talked excitedly about on the Monday morning. And I’ve never talked about it since in any “best gigs I’ve ever been to” conversation.
Engaged community + advertising mindset = zero word of mouth
The Springsteen experience couldn’t have been more different. He played for over three hours, during which time he made this stadium concert feel like a sweaty club gig.
He didn’t just go through the motions in terms of engaging with the audience. For the last hour or so he and the E-Street band were taking requests from the crowd. And not just for his stuff. They played Elvis Presley and pretty much anything else that we chucked at them.
We weren’t watching a broadcast. We were participating. We personalised the gig through the unique set of requests that we asked him to play for us.
And I’ve talked about this gig ever since.
(On and off).
Engaged community + participation + personalisation = 25 years of word of mouth
Here endeth the lesson.
And community manager extraordinaire.