Who Were Those Social Instigators?

If you were in Miami Beach for the ADC 92nd Annual Awards + Festival of Art and Craft in Advertising and Design, you were touched by theatreMAMA. You may not have realized, but they touched you. No need to call social services, however, as it was only in the best of ways.

The social instigation at the Opening Night Pool Party presented by Martin Guitar? That was theatreMAMA who operated the live photo booth, allowing you to take crazy, funny photos and send them via social or snail mail to your pals back home.

The gorgeous dancers at the ADC Design Night Celebration? Also theatreMAMA.

And the on-the-scene paparazzi at the 92nd Annual Awards Gala? You guessed it.

After all the fun and interaction they instigated, we asked theatreMAMA to answer a few questions to help us get to know them better.

Oh, and they are just celebrating their 8th anniversary, so a very happy anniversary to theatreMAMA from the ADC community! Now, who were those social instigators?


ADC: At what point did you identify a niche space in the market that theatreMAMA’s collective skills could address and therefore how was theatreMAMA born?

theatreMAMA: We first got noticed producing happenings and what we were calling “Integrated Performance Environments” at nightclubs, concert venues, raves, and other crazy subterranean haunts around New York City and San Francisco. From there, we were hired by Cirque du Soleil to do what they called ‘Event Marketing.’ Traveling around the country to different top markets, we really had to adjust our approach, message, partners, vendors and employees. What worked in LA didn’t work in New York, so we had to constantly create new ways of engaging with the public…and tracking our results to ensure sales.

Since that time, we’ve applied our experiential approach to producing ambient activations, art installations, large-scale events, mobile tours, music festivals, experiential explosions, and highly social digital marketing. At the heart of each is our belief that the consumer is a living being who truly values life experiences, and likes to share them with others.

ADC: How have you seen the theatreMAMA team grow and change over the years?

TM: Wow. We’ve really had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented folks in the world, both internally and as clients. What we do is a lot like cooking, in a way. When you get ready to produce a fully immersive experience, if you have all quality ingredients (team members), you’re going to end up with good soup.

One of the big things we can point to is an increase in our digital department. With numerous studies showing that people will not interact with brands virtually unless they have an experience with them in reality, clients are asking us to help use events to push online initiatives. Also, the importance of continuing an activation past its end date has become paramount. It used to be that once an event was over, it was over, and that was that. Now, with advances in technology, there are a million ways to keep the conversation going and the community forged around that event engaged. These things have contributed to an increase on the digital side of things. It’s a great harmony.

ADC: Why "theatreMAMA"?

TM: It’s definitely a name that always takes people aback the first time they hear it. And that’s part of what we like about it. We were always inspired by Antonin Artaud, The Living Theatre, Blue Man Group and others who were thinking outside of the traditional “experience” box to produce things that affected the audience as much as possible.

Every brand has a story, and we are essentially storytellers who bring highly crafted production to the table with our stories. So, when we were brainstorming our company’s name, we were thinking, how do we come up with something that would speak to our passion for creating brand narratives and would evoke the theatrical in places you wouldn’t ordinarily find it? “Theatre” seemed like a good match to which people around the world could relate.

The “MAMA” part of our name came from us wanting to champion products, events and people. You can ask most people, “Who is your biggest fan?” to which most will reply, “MAMA!” Additionally, this was an added way for us to express the family vibe we seek to create in all of our work. When you love the people with whom you work and treat everyone like family, even major fights can be funneled back into creative breakthroughs.

Plus it was easier to spell than the other option we’d come up with: Gesamkunstwerk.

ADC: What is the primary source of inspiration for the work that theatreMAMA does?

TM: The short answer is people and how they experience the world. We live in a sharing-centric culture where we sometimes gloss over the fact that the Consumer is a living, breathing, smelling, tasting, seeing, touching and feeling human being. As people, we want to experience and we want to share. The way we share is now evolving faster than it ever has, but we shouldn’t forget the constant: those true moments that connect us to other people. These moments are what we want to tell the tale of in the first place…that make us know we are alive. We want to know we’ve experienced things. That we’ve lived life to the fullest. That we have stories to tell.

ADC: Why are art and craft so important in the way in which you approach and execute your “social instigation?”

TM: MAMA operates in a live atmosphere, creating living narratives for people to experience. For much of what we do, there is no second chance. Our work takes place in real time, which leaves no time for a re-do. If Janet Jackson’s boob falls out, we don’t even get a two-second delay.

Art helps us provoke the imagination with big ideas that challenge beliefs, titillate the senses and cross boundaries to become relevant. Craft is about the focus and details of the things we produce. Everything must be touched. Every outcome must be considered and planned for without losing or interrupting the magic of the message. We must use both art and craft to effectively create moments where our clients become part of the stories actual people are telling their friends, families and coworkers.