Nancy Coyne is the CEO of Serino Coyne Inc, the largest theatrical advertising firm in the US. She also sits on the board of Rosie’s Theater Kids, an arts organization and Taproot grantee that works to enrich the lives of NYC youth through the arts.
Taproot recently held a recognition event to thank all of our pro bono consultants in NYC for their commitment to donating their time and talent to our community. We had the honor of hearing Nancy speak at the event, and wanted to share her kind and inspiring words with you.
Please join us in thanking Nancy, as well as all of our pro bono consultants who make it matter everyday.
Nancy’s kind words:
I love TED talks–those 20 minute philosophical pep-talks on YOU-TUBE. And one of my favorites is Chris Waugh, of IDEO, a California think tank. He says, “If you ask a room full of adults, ‘Who can sing?’ Only a handful will raise their hands. ‘Who can draw?’ Again, a few. But ask a room full of 2nd graders, and every hand will shoot up, and indeed, there will be spontaneous singing and drawing.”
What’s the difference? Well, it isn’t until we’re about 8 that our inner critic shows up and convinces us that only great singing can really be called singing, and only the Rembrandts among us can truly be said to DRAW.
So the question that comes to mind is: Can ADULTS ever experience the freedom and unencumbered imagination of a child, and make “work” PLAY again?
I am in the fortunate position of being the CEO if an entertainment marketing firm. SERINO-COYNE handles Broadway shows, profit-making entities; but we also handle the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theatre–non-profit institutions.
And the non-profit world is the one where the small agencies–like mine–have trouble working because not-for-profit have budgets based on the generosity of its vendors. And an agenda OTHER than the bottom line.
I am owned by Omnicom, a publicly owned company, with a commitment to profit for its shareholders. In an effort to deliver, we have to limit what we do for the MET and Lincoln Center Theatre to just Advertising. Yet their mission is so vast—to convert the disinclined to become opera lovers and theatre goers—that Advertising is just a tiny part of what they need
The value add of pro bono
I am also on the Board of Rosie’s Theatre Kids, where we measure success in terms of how many kids we reach, and how effectively we integrate a theatre education into their lives. It is admission to the city’s top performing art high schools and colleges that we’re after for our kids.
But we are just one of a million small non for profits doing great good but without the advertising budget of the Lincoln Center Theatre or the in-house capabilities of the MET. And so invariably we put our agenda first, and the marketing of our story last. Not-for-profits run the risk of being the tree in that falls in the forest with no one to report whether or not it makes a sound.
That’s where you come in. TAPROOT helps make a sound for the not-for-profits.
And TAPROOT gives you a chance to PLAY again. To SING loudly, and to DRAW freely, unrestrained by the rules of commerce. Isn’t that delicious? You, the Taproot Players–and I think you should think of yourselves that way–can reinvent the brochure, reinvent the website, the PSA, the visual identity…and do it knowing that you are making a positive difference in the world.
I receive resumes all the time from Madison Avenue professionals who, rather than selling their pharmaceuticals and soft drinks, want to sell the entertainment experience.
But here’s the greatest product ever invented: the making a difference experience. And that’s what each of you does, and each of you is selling. It’s such an elegant solution. You find another creative home; “a place where everybody knows your name, and they’re really glad you came.”
And how about this for a perk: the pet peeve of most of the marketing people I know is…CLIENTS unacquainted with the words THANK YOU. Well, with your not-for-profit, you will experience genuine gratitude! There is a real partnership instead of the client/vendor relationship that imbues every endeavor with a sense of insecurity. Nothing turns PLAY into WORK more quickly than the knowledge that you will be GRADED.
To the skilled volunteers and Taproot: thank you
Here, you are always part of the solution, never part of the problem, and so you have the freedom to reinvent your client, your assignment, and yourself. The difference you make in the organizations you serve is the distance from surviving to thriving. You see them objectively, and not encumbered by their problems and politics. You breathe a bit of new thinking into their lives and in doing so, you reinvigorate their mission.
Am I giving you too much credit? Well, isn’t that a refreshing change from GETTING TOO LITTLE!
Face it: each of us is a salesman, and the only way to avoid that impending “Death of a Salesman” is to sell something that you love and believe in. I consider myself blessed because I believe that a night spent in a theatre is preferable to a night in front of a TV.
When people talk about the theatre audience getting older, I say to you that it’s just that theatre goers live longer! Theatre makes kids smarter and more communicative. And in a world of instant gratification, theatre is a remarkable holdout.
You can’t get it ON DEMAND. You need to wait until 8 PM, and then you have to go to 45th and Broadway and get it with 1000 other people.
And here’s the real truth to it: the price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. Theatre is going to take 2 hours of your time, sometimes even more. You will be forced to single-task for the entire time, and there will no digital recall of those two hours…ever! So afterwards, you will have to remember it. I sell memories–pure and simple. And in doing so, I teach delayed gratification. Look up “delayed gratification” in the dictionary and you’ll see the marquee to “THE BOOK OF MORMON.”
Where does my passion come from? From believing in what I do!
So, what will you be selling? Opportunities for inner-city kids to get into the schools that will give them a shot at a better life. Financial viability for a little part of New York called Long Island City. Help for families affected by crisis. Aid to HIV positive men, women, and children. These are just a few of the goals of the organizations TAPROOT serves. And the reasons you should all be sleeping well each night. In the business world, it’s sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Here – not so much. TAPROOT is on the side of the angels. Because we’ve all got the perfect product to sell:Everybody needs it.It’s absolutely free. You can take it with you wherever you goIt makes everything better. We market hope and that’s the best job in the world. Thank you for your generous work, and for being here tonight.