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Brand World

Changer à l’Opéra

17/04/2015 - par Mark Tungate

A Budapest où il présidait le jury des Hipnozis awards, notre chroniqueur Mark Tungate est tombé sous le charme «intelligent, mystérieux et sexy» de la campagne de communication de l'opéra national de Hongrie. Et si, pour attirer les foules, l'on considérait l'art lyrique comme un blockbuster en puissance?

This week I’m reporting live from Budapest, where (believe it or not) I’m president of the jury at the Hipnozis awards, the local awards show run by Kreatív magazine. More about that in a second. First a quick word about my hotel, which is located just around the corner from the city’s magnificent opera house.


I’m not much of an opera-goer – in fact, you’re far more likely to find me sipping a glass of wine on the terrace of Callas, the café next door – but in that respect I’m not unusual. Opera generally has a recruitment problem, especially among younger people. But the Hungarian State Opera actually did something about it.


One of the more convincing entries to the Hipnozis awards is a flamboyant online film, made by the production company Umbrella, which treats opera like a movie blockbuster. (It’s called When A World Unfolds, and you can find the directors’ cut on YouTube.) The opera also got a new logo, a poster campaign, and possibly the best-looking banner ads I’ve ever seen.


Branding high culture is a tough brief. People who love opera (or classical music, or art, or even jazz) usually grow into it over a period of time, often encouraged by their parents, or perhaps by a passionate teacher. You can’t persuade people to change their tastes as easily as you can convince them to switch their mobile service provider. The typical response is to make culture seem more accessible. But Umbrella’s film takes a different route: it makes opera look brainy, mysterious and sexy.


Hungarians may be more of a pushover than other nationalities when it comes to melodrama in musical form. After all, Liszt is a national hero and there seems to be a violinist on every corner. And since this is not the Effie awards, I can’t tell you whether the campaign inspired more people to book opera tickets. But I can tell you one thing: it has certainly inspired me. It’s somewhat ironic that the Opéra National de Paris will benefit. My Hungarian friends have essentially sold opera to the world.

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