Broadway News has learned exclusively that Situation Group, a leading digital-marketing agency in the Broadway space, has launched a new business initiative called The Hatch Program.
Billed by Situation as “transformation as a service,” Hatch will offer services such as technical solutions, user experience discovery, ticketing innovations, user testing, AI technology, fintech and blockchain integration and the creation of virtual communities and events for clients.
The Hatch program evolved out of conversations within the agency aimed toward dedicating time and resources specifically to innovate. Situation’s vice president of innovation Peter Yagecic said the idea for the program developed as a response to an ongoing need to “figure out how we can intentionally find a protective bubble for thinking about the bigger picture and ensure that our clients can continue to make an impact when they’re not dealing with the day-to-day fires that are constantly clamoring for attention.”
Situation Group currently consists of three branches: 1) Situation Interactive, dedicated to live events and arts and entertainment — with Broadway clients like “Wicked” and the not-for-profit Roundabout Theatre Company; 2) Town Hall, focused on education and nonprofit clients; and 3) the Studio at Situation, which houses design, technology, project management and other departments that serve the full company. “I define the studio as a little bit of the Ghost Kitchen of the Situation group,” says Yagecic. “It is really the powerhouse that creates great work for any entity within our verticals.”
The idea behind Hatch was to create a team within the company specifically committed to ideating long-term strategy for clients as well as keeping up with the latest technology, trends and more.
Without a dedicated team, many individuals at Situation might have dipped their toes into research about, say, a new technology, but “it’s very easy to be a mile wide and an inch deep,” said Yagecic. Through Hatch, Situation is prioritizing a depth of knowledge; they aim to be the source of insight into innovation in other industries in order to apply those tactics original to Broadway marketing.
In this context, Hatch will serve as a discovery lab. The staff will keep tabs on what’s new in order to bring fresh ideas to its clients’ ad campaigns, customer relations services and more.
“[The producer] of a long-running show might say, ‘I hear that fans are creating all these worlds on Roblox; help us understand what the opportunities there could be,’” Yagecic said. “We can [then] go away and say, ‘We’ve spent some time thinking deeply about the [Roblox] Metaverse and we have some opinions. Let us sit down and show you what we know and have a conversation about what the right fit might be. Similarly with Web3 or NFTs. We want to be able to come to the table with a smart, informed opinion.”
Hatch could then collaborate with other internal teams to build the use of new technologies into a campaign, but it won’t fall to the existing team that might be working on anything from media planning to social media strategy to artwork design.
As a further example, Yagecic recalled a Broadway producer that wanted to create a community around their show that would last for decades — “similar to a U.K. football club,” he said. “How do we use technology? How do we set up a communication strategy to nurture a real long-term relationship?” Yagecic remembered thinking. “We brought together a team that didn’t exist on paper to explore what it would take to think about that fan relationship for 10 years. It was kind of everyone’s extracurricular activity.” Now, Hatch will be the group to handle these types of larger strategic projects.
This program signals a shift in business mindset that will allow Situation to address long-term impact and longevity parallel to daily tasks. And, unlike other strategy consultants, Situation has the personnel and skills to implement strategies they suggest.
In fact, Hatch has already worked with Roundabout and Bloomberg Philanthropies to develop a new ticketing operation called Criterion.
Roundabout, one of Situation’s longtime clients, offers its own season of programming and regularly rents out its Broadway venues to commercial productions. Until recently, ticketing for rental shows would funnel through their website to an external ticket seller. Roundabout leaders wondered what it would take to handle ticketing for its houses firsthand. Roundabout asked Situation to “innovate around the user experience of buying a ticket for a Broadway show,” Yagecic said. The result of nine months of research and development is the new platform Criterion Ticketing.
As the industry continues to shift, Hatch will be the hub to preempt and answer to that change.
The Hatch team will exist within the Studio segment of Situation, which is headed by managing partner Jackie Lau.
Led by Yagecic, Hatch is beginning with a team that includes technical lead Cyrus Collier, design supervisor Miles Morton and senior project manager Bill Rousseau. Yagecic says Situation intends to grow the cohort.