Mass media is a term that is constantly thrown around, with most people immediately thinking of news broadcasts like CNN and websites like Yahoo. However, mass media is rather broadly defined as “any means of communication that reach a large number of people”. In the world of ancient Rome “mass media” took the form of pantomime shows, chariot races, and most notably gladiator matches. These shows had an unparalleled influence on public conversation, helping develop marketing strategies that remain relevant to this day.
The greatest venue the Romans had was the chariot racing grounds named the Circus Maximus, which held between 150,000 and 250,000 people. While a stadium that seats 3 times as many as Lambeau Field is impressive enough, it is exceptional considering the population was about 1 million people at the time. Imagine your venue holding a third of the adult population of the most powerful civilization of the time. In sheer percentages, Rome marketed mass media more effectively than any other civilization.
Brands in ancient Rome were somewhat peripheral; the most accurate comparison of brands would be to political figures’. Spectacles like chariot races and gladiator matches played a major role in the rise and fall of these political figures. For instance, Julius Caesar planned carefully to throw the biggest games the world had seen on the day of his father’s funeral. The death of the former leader was quickly overseen as the games featured 320 pairs of gladiators fighting simultaneously, theatrical performances, and a public banquet for all. Despite arguably being a genocidal warmonger, he was beloved by his people for his extravagant public events. This shows that one can overcome negative public image by providing a quality product for a passionate audience.
Given the utter vastness of people, whoever ran the games gained a remarkable reputation. In other words, they chose to build the brand and maintain their customer base. Admission during the games were free in the Roman Empire, and the mass audience alone raised the reputation of sponsors. In Roman politics, funding the games was a common way to improve status or recover name. In modern marketing this can still be applied. By sponsoring events with a passionate audience, they will grow more aware and appreciative to your brand, although today this is easier said than done. There are not stadiums that hold a third of the world’s population and the world unfortunately is no longer obsessed with gladiator fights. However, brand building through sponsoring events with passionate audience is still a viable marketing strategy. I suggest seeking out smaller, tight-knit groups of hobbyists. Hobbyists are fueled with enthusiasm are constantly looking for funds to grow their community. Whoever can get their events off the ground will take a big step toward gaining their loyalty and become a potential partner later down the road.
For help navigating the murky waters of modern day marketing, contact Wakefly! We’ll be more than happy to steer you in the right direction.