Raleigh Little Theater Flyers Play for Big Laughs

All the Surrounding Streets Are a Stage for West & Vaughan Print
ATLANTA – A new direct mail and print handout advertising campaign for the Raleigh (N.C.) Little Theater challenges the sophistication and cultural literacy of North Carolinians with a series of satiric “polls.”
Three faux tests and their equally fake results were created by West & Vaughan of Raleigh. The work tests in-state residents’ “overall cracker-ism” and proves that “even if you watch Shakespeare every night, you could still use a trip to the theater,” said agency creative director Robert Shaw West.
One poll cites alleged responses to a series of simple words or phrases related to the arts. “Monet,” for example, has 15 percent of Tarheels correctly answering, “An impressionist painter.” The remainder reply, “What I need more of.” A query regarding playwright Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women draws the majority response, “Where?”
All three surveys, tables and charts look bureaucratically official, which brings an added dichotomy to the ridiculous results and adds to the laughs.
“We wanted it to look governmental and scientific, but we also wanted it to be trendy,” West said. “You look and you’re expecting something that’s all serious and instead you get ridiculous.”
One handout helps recipients calculate their cultural literacy on a seven-level pyramid scale that peaks with a comparison to Sartre and bottoms out with a parallel to common bread mold. “Do you watch Baywatch for the plot? (If yes, move down five levels)” and “Does your television remote have a thumb- shaped depression near the channel button? (If no, move up one level)” are typical questions.
The print pieces, which target a younger, hipper demographic than typical theatergoers, are being distributed at music and night clubs located on the city streets surrounding the theater. That is where “all the cool people go to hang out,” West said.
Copywriter Philip Wilson conceived the idea and most of the laugh lines, West said. Shawn Brown served as art director.