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Launching the new look of Broadway’s ‘Chicago’

Producer Barry Weissler and ad execs Nick Pramik and Steven Tartick divulge the mechanics of the long-runner’s campaign strategy and its 2023 refresh.

A sample of the 2023 “Chicago” refresh campaign (Credit: Courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

Broadway’s “Chicago” is known for its onstage foray into lies, corruption, razzle dazzle and, especially, sex appeal. In turn, “the campaign is always sexy and remains sexy with each new iteration,” said Steven Tartick, executive creative director at RPM, the agency responsible for the long-running revival’s advertising and marketing. Throughout its 26-year run on Broadway (and counting), producers Barry and Fran Weissler have had to determine how to sell this story to potential audiences over and over again.

It starts with what Barry Weissler calls “the identifying element”: the aspect of an ad that lets you know exactly what it is with a glance. In the case of “Chicago,” that’s the bold red-lettered title. But there are other signatures to the show’s visual brand. “The subjects, which in most cases are the ladies, are not secondary,” said Weissler. “They have to be in your face, dominating.”

“You get domination by the subject looking straight at you and holding your attention,” he continued. “It can’t be someone looking off left or right, tipping a bowler.” True enough, skimming years of campaigns — be it the original in 1996 or the 20th anniversary campaign touting how the musical was “Killing It Worldwide,” both shot by photographer Max Vadukul, star-forward campaigns photographed by Andrew Eccles or the most recent refresh captured by Danielle Levitt — the women always stare directly at the viewer.

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