A quick scan of tango event marketing material suggests that organisers assume a simple psychology to attract experienced leaders: it’s women they want. The imagery follows basic advertising principles, as if they are selling a car, by putting a girl on the hood. The pictures show masculine types, in intimate embrace, with women who are clearly surrendering to all that male energy. As many organisers use similar pictures it has probably become background noise to the experienced leaders they are trying to attract. To them, events may all look quite the same.
A second popular communication strategy is to emphasise the uniqueness of the event location, as if saying sure, we are just another tango event, but we are on a volcano! Or: on a boat in the middle of the ocean! Or: in Ulaanbatar, where you can see Ghengis Kahn do back-sacadas! (Tango is becoming popular in Mongolia so who says tango isn’t growing). Alternatively, some events feature big-name maestros to identify their brand with, promising the proximity to greatness, not dissimilar to inviting F1 driver Max Verstappen to lend his name to a tractor event. Then, of course, there is the communication that combines all of the above, in one picture! The organiser seems to be saying: I don’t know exactly what you are looking for, but I am SURE we have it.
I am making fun of these tango marketeers, including myself, but, the truth is, much of this stuff actually works. Our own Amsterdam milonga uses similar communication to position itself. Well, maybe not the volcano idea (we boast about other dangers) nor the travelling-maestros scenario (the justification for this is the subject of a future blog). I am only observing that tango is a market like any other and that event organisers are demonstrating that a simple me-too strategy doesn’t work as well as it used to. To compete effectively organisers require unique, stand-out-from-the-sea-of-supply, selling points in order for customers, tango leaders in particular, to buy into. This seems to have become so pivotal to the viability of an event.
It’s been long since I went clubbing, but from the old days I remember that discotheques used to offer girls free entrance. In some clubs, in those bad, bad medieval times, good-looking girls would get a free entrance and a free drink. Really hot girls would get all that and a long conversation with the doorman. It’s a simple strategy: girl attracts boy, boy drinks overpriced beer, boy offers girl insanely priced soft-drink. Is Argentine tango going there with leaders? It’s not an unlikely development in a crowded marketplace that already understands the concept of a taxi dancer, and yet… I don’t think it will happen.
I guess that you assume that I know where the market will take us in this battle ground. Perhaps I do. Perhaps I don’t. But let’s assume for a moment that I do. Would you really expect me to actually share it here?