Does Branson need more big named stars or better promotion of what it has?

Most were probably expecting a column about the headline story of 2009 or something along those lines. Actually, although the story was never written, the question should have been a headline in 2009, 2008, 2007, prior years and should be a major story during 2010, but it wasn’t and it won’t. That’s sad because the answer to Branson’s future could lie in the balance.

Shoji Tabuchi is one of the most popular acts in Branson and justly so for a lot of reasons. Yet, prior to 1991 Shoji had been working in Branson, and around the country during the off season, and had just recently started his own show. After his appearance on the 1991 CBS Show “60 Minutes,” where Branson was declared as the “Live Music Capital of the Entire Universe,” and the attendant publicity and marketing accompanying that show and Shoji, he rose like a meteor to a justly deserved place as one of Branson’s must see shows.

Now the Ole Seagull realizes that there was a lot more involved than the 60 Minutes Show. There was a new theatre, productions numbers like Branson stages had never seen before, good internal marketing, a huge influx of new people coming to Branson, and of course the talent, wit and audience appeal of one of the Ole Seagull’s favorite entertainers and people, the incomparable Shoji Tabuchi.

However, the reality of the situation at that time was that in 1991 “Shoji Tabuchi” was not a big named national star. His was not the name on the lips of those who were saying, “What Branson needs to do is get more big named stars.” Yet, over the last 20 years, unless the Ole Seagull misses his bet, Shoji Tabuchi has been responsible for consistently, year after year, month after month, entertaining more Branson visitors than any other star or act that has ever come to Branson.

What the Ole Seagull is trying to say is that in 1991, even as some were saying, “Woe is Branson if we don’t bring in big named national stars” one of its biggest stars of the next two decades was already performing on a Branson stage right under their noses. The publicity of 60 minutes helped them realize what was available, it was capitalized on and the rest is history.
It seems like someone is always saying, “Branson entertainment needs new this or that and woe is Branson if we don’t bring in big named national stars.” To that an Ole Seagull would say, “Bull roar.”

In terms of Branson’s marketing effort, and strictly in the Ole Seagull’s opinion, Branson’s stages have an under recognized and under appreciated talent that, if recognized and marketed by the powers that control the marketing, could do for Branson well into its next 50 years what Shoji Tabuchi has done over the last 20. The first question a lot of people would ask is, “What shows would those be?” Although he is certain there are others, of the shows he considers “under appreciated and under recognized,” that he has had personal involvement with during the last year the Duttons, Haygoods, Magnificent Variety, Six, Hughes Brothers, George Dyre, Clay Cooper, Liver Pool Legends and the “Country Tonite cast” portion of the “Country Tonite” show come to mind.

The Ole Seagull will wonder until the day he dies, why the marketing gurus of this town didn’t jump on the chance to market Branson and the Dutton Show to take maximum advantage of its prime time appearances and top ten performances on the top rated NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent.” There was the ideal chance for Branson to help create its own new star. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen and we are still complaining that we have nothing coming up to replace our maturing acts that will, more than likely sooner than later, be retiring.
For what it matters, an Ole Seagull believes we have the talent, shows and entertainers performing on Branson stages right now that can provide quality, diversity, stability and longevity for Branson’s entertainment scene for a long time to come. All we have to do is recognize it and promote it.

Isn’t that what marketing is for? Very few people come to Branson for no reason. Why not make that reason something that will be providing quality Branson based season long family entertainment in Branson for the next ten to twenty years?

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