Posted by: COSI | October 3, 2008

Brand Control

Well, I had a thought and video all ready to go for this blog when I came up against the “brand” control that comes with us working with big name and branded partners. I understand it, we do some control on the COSI name and brand as well—but it’s probably not the type of considerations you might think I have in my job.

The video (I can at least describe it!) 🙂  showed the behind-the-scenes work to get Sesame Street Presents: The Body installed and ready this Saturday, October 4. The scene was one with colorful partially installed exhibits with tools around, forklifts for moving exhibit components in place, the traveling team for the exhibition company working away, and the recognizable faces of Sesame Street characters starting to invite me to explore different niches of the exhibition.

We have high hopes for the exhibition as we continue to shift our traveling/temporary exhibition focus to better serve our younger audiences in the Fall. Not that we won’t have great experiences for older kids and adults as well (our Innovation Showcase highlighting local innovative scientists, researchers, and their innovations will open in November), but we know Fall is a great time for young families. Older kids are off to school, going outside regularly is becoming less of an option and young families can have a bit quieter environment to enjoy here at COSI during October and November in particular.

Back to my video challenge and how that ends up being a regular feature of my job and others here at COSI. One of the characteristics of our most popular temporary exhibitions is that they already come with a brand name and a following – so some of our success comes from tapping into theirs. Since they have been successful, they have built, and work hard to maintain and control their “brand franchise” (e.g. not wanting CEO amateur “behind-the-scenes” video of their characters to go out on the internet).

But hey—I’m cool about it. One of the other perks of working with famous brands is getting up close and personal with them. Since I’ve been here we’ve enjoyed engaging our guests and program participants with Star Wars and the original props and actors, CSI, and now Sesame Street. I still get a blast out of meeting actors like Anthony Daniels, the actor who played C3PO in all the Star Wars movies, the young actors/writers who helped us open CSI this last spring, and Carroll Spinney, the Sesame Street puppeteer of Big Bird and Oscar (when our PBS partner, WOSU, launched WOSU@COSI with us October, 2006).

Anthony Daniels came with a “handler” who made sure he had the appropriate support and interface with our staff—but she was very nice and he was a hoot. Up on stage together while I introduced him at that opening Anthony grabbed me by the tie and commented to the gathering about how bad the tie was (hey—I thought he’d be impressed that it was a Star Wars tie! At least I got him to sign it and it’s now framed on my office wall 😉 )
And Caroll Spinney and his wife were delightful and approachable people—really endearing to talk to and totally consistent as individuals with the special quality of the Sesame Street characters.

So memories of the Sesame Street experience that I shared with my little girls (now adults) is playing back in my head as I watch the exhibition being set up and we prepare for the opening events and day. It’s just that I can’t share this great little video that I shot on the cool Flip camcorder I’ve got—but I’ll just have to wait for another behind-the-scenes opportunity. At least I know with all that is going on at COSI we’ve got plenty of opportunities coming up!

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my time with Elmo at our opening of Sesame Street Presents: The Body and you’ll just have to come down and see it for yourself 😉

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