Will there be an encore for live experiences?

Gloob's Tatiana Costa and WOW Explorations' Donna Friedman Meir explain how stage shows and in-store experiences can make a comeback after COVID-19.
March 27, 2020

The show can’t go on without an audience, which is why live and location-based brand extensions are closing up shop as families around the world are asked to stay at home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Everything from stage shows to in-store experiences have been stealing the spotlight for years, with companies using live and location-based brand extensions to increase engagement and sell exclusive merchandise. Now, these companies are scrambling to reschedule events and find alternative revenue streams.

“We’ve never lived this situation before,” says Tatiana Costa, general director of Gloob.

From a content perspective, almost everything the Brazilian kidsnet planned to air this year will go ahead as scheduled by virtue of the production timeline. The projects currently underway aren’t set to premiere for two years or so, Costa says, which means Gloob’s grid will be uninterrupted for the time being. The team’s live and location-based events, however, are being hit hard.

Gloob had to pull the plug on brand extensions scheduled for malls across Brazil to promote the April premiere of Power Players, for example. The kidsnet partnered with LA toon house ZAG last year to co-produce the animated series and picked up the IP’s licensing rights in Brazil. But because malls in the region are closed, those experiential efforts were shelved.

The live show Blue Building Detectives—A Mistery in the Theater (pictured) was also interrupted by the global COVID-19 outbreak, and Costa says the team is working to find new dates in the second half of the year.

“We’re working to re-establish dates starting in June or July, but it seems every few days we have to re-adjust our calendars and timelines,” she says.

In addition to working around information from governmental bodies that is constantly changing, Costa says Gloob is dealing with the evolving schedules of partners, venues and the talent involved—these complications might mean live and location-based events have to be postponed to 2021.

And while the next several months will certainly be bleak for those in the experiential business, the silver lining is that families will be especially keen to get out and about once quarantines and lockdowns are lifted, says WOW Explorations CEO Donna Friedman Meir.

“Recreation weathers recessions fairly well,” Friedman Meir says. “And while many experiential efforts are on hold, companies can still move forward with development.”

WOW Explorations was founded to develop on-site recreational experiences for families, but Friedman Meir is now looking into apps as well as content to fill the void. And when live and location-based experiences are up and running again, she says the most important focus for IP owners will be increasing health and sanitation practices to ensure families feel safe becoming part of a large crowd again.

“We need to look out not just for people’s entertainment, but also for their safety. I’m confident that we, as an industry, can take that on.”

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