Keith Brown founded Showtime Attractions in 1995. Keith learnt his trade with the very famous Silvers Circus. From humble beginnings doing face painting and balloon modelling, Showtime Attractions has grown into Australia’s leading event production company. Further evolution was realised in 2012 with the launch of Santa’s Magical Kingdom. This event has also been duplicated in both Sydney and in Perth in 2016. As testament to their innovation they also brought Dinosaurs back to life with Jurassic Creatures and Prehistoric Creatures of the Ice. These large-scale ticketed events have seen Showtime Attractions lead the way in live experiences. More recently Keith has formed a partnership with Cathy Skelton to develop and offer a premium promotional service as part of the Showtime offering. We managed to catch up with Keith in between his hectic travelling commitments. We asked him about the Showtime Attractions journey and also about his future plans for the business.
Keith, with such a diverse and demanding business model including live shows, shopping centre events, touring and amusements; how do you prioritise your time across all these responsibilities?
Good time management is a result of having a great team at Showtime Attractions. We start with defining what it is we are working on, what is the brief and what division is responsible for each task. We give clear directions and because the team are able to execute so well, time management becomes very manageable for me across all the different responsibilities that I have.
One of your biggest recent success stories is Santa’s Magical Kingdom (SMK). Can you tell us a little bit about how this event has evolved?
This was initially going to be a two-year development, however the success of SMK has seen us reach the sixth year in 2017 in Victoria. Last year we sold our highest amount of tickets ever to the event and we have had to move from Burnley Oval in Richmond to Caulfield Racecourse to double the size of the event. In terms of the future we have had offers to be brought-out, however we have no intentions of selling the show or stopping it and have just signed a five year partnerships with Crown Casinos. We opened in Crown last year and sold 81,000 tickets and we hope to increase this to 100,000 – 150,000 this year in Perth. We will also be bringing in licensed brands to the show this year including DreamWorks with Trolls as our ambassadors for SMK and Universal will make the Minions part of the show as well.
Over the past 20 years you have worked with many great global brands. Can you tell us a little about some of the stand out franchises?
We love all the projects that we have worked on however in terms of macro level impact on our business, it would have to be when Shrek came to town! It is fair to say that Shrek made Showtime Attractions and I often think we should have painted our building green. In terms of highlights, it is so hard to narrow them down to a few as there are so many and we are currently holding over 50 licenses from Universal, to DreamWorks to ABC and Warner Bros.
Keith we understand the Showtime has been responsible for the annual Good Friday Easter Egg Hunt for the past 20 years. Can you tell us how this started and what it has been able to achieve?
We are now the longest standing Cadbury supplier, their event and seasonal partner of choice. Cadbury initially came up with the idea of an Easter egg hunt which they ran at FOX Studios in Sydney, something we were not initially involved in. The first year didn’t go according to plan and Cadbury brought us in as the offical event supplier and we have been there ever since. The event has grown from 1,000 to a sold-out 8,000 people since we have been working with Cadbury and we now give away a million Easter eggs every Easter with all profits going to the Children’s Hospital. We’ve also helped to supply over 300 life-sized beds for adults to sleep in overnight with their children which makes us extremely proud. Last year’s show sold out in 14 minutes!
We understand that you have recently formed a partnership with Cathy Skelton to develop and offer a premium promotional program as part of the Showtime Attractions services portfolio. Can you tell us about this venture?
Bringing Cathy on board brings over 20 years of experience in the licensing and premium promotional category. This includes sourcing merchandise from overseas, building blue chip brands with blue chip brands, working with licensing, working with major corporate fast moving consumer goods companies, confectionary and quick service restaurants. The goal is to incorporate this with Showtime Attractions and further develop the customer relationships and bring premium promotions to shopping centres including give-aways. We aim to make Showtime Attractions a one-stop-shop for all our clients.
We have also learnt that Showtime have been engaged by The Sydney Show to develop “The Circus Comes to Town,” can you give us an insight into how you will deliver this activation?
After a successful 2017 show, next years show will be run at night time and will run for 12 days. In 2018, Showtime Attractions will partner with The Sydney Show to bring the first street parade to town during the Easter Show. From 4pm each day you will see two parades go through town and we have partnered with a major licensing company so stay tuned for more news on this. The 2018 show will feature real life-sized animated elephants, 10 major circus floats, old-style circus wagons and the main arena will turn into a circus in the evenings. Some other very exciting parts of the show will be the ringmaster announcing the show from a hot air balloon, the trapeze, the motorbikes, and the high-wire!
Can you tell us about your international engagements in Malaysia for Showtime Attractions events?
We were one of 20 companies to tender for a 60 Years of Independence in Malaysia celebration. Having won the contract we will see Dinosaurs Alive being presented in the City of Kuala Lumpur as a ticketed event. The show has now been extended to August 2018 due to its success so far.
We notice that you are very particular as to how you manage the entry to your large live events. Can you tell us your philosophy in relation to how your customer should experience your activations?
It really is all about the experience. Retail is in a tough place and our partners want us to bring traffic, that is the main goal. We aim to provide a great experience at an affordable cost, it is also about engagement and bringing a brand to life for the customer. Ultimately we want the consumer to bring that brand home and remember it because of the experience we provided.
The Smurfs Lost Village is another new attraction for Showtime Attractions. Can you outline its main attributes?
We currently have a Smurfs Trail going on where you have to collect the stamps which lead you to the Smurfs World. We have pods throughout shopping centres and you also get to go to Summer School with the Smurfs! Westfield Fountain Gate in Melbourne has just engaged us to build the first Smurfs World for this Christmas and you will walk the Smurfs trail to then meet Santa. In 2018 we will be celebrating 60 years of Smurfs and this will include a whole new Smurfs World by Showtime Attractions.
Lights by DreamWorks has travelled the world. You have more recently brought this show to The Mornington Peninsula. How did it perform?
This event was supported but the Victorian Government as a tourism event which is why it was held at Rosebud. We were concerned about the location at first, however the travel to Rosebud turned out not to be a problem and we had a huge adverting camping to make sure the event was a success. Tourism Victoria also backed the event as the first opening in Australia. The show actually went from Chile to London to Melbourne and now to Crown Casino in Perth. The show also opens again at Watergardens Shopping Centre in Melbourne in September. The show is now booked out until 2018 in shopping centres as well which is great.
Keith after 20 years in this business it is great to have the opportunity to interview you and to talk about Showtime Attractions. Your business has been synonymous within our industry for such a long time. Your enthusiasm and passion for entertainment shines through in everything Showtime Attractions does.