The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Up & Over It Headshot

Let's Ban Leaflets!

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

It's week two of the Fringe! We survived the 7 ½ hour van ride up here from London (actually two of us came by train - in first class - but we'll let you guess which two), we survived the previews and our first reviewer *cough* 5 Stars *cough* and while it's hardly stopped raining, we've decided to look at the weather through an Instagramed eye.

Wet doesn't have to equal miserable - it not only makes greener things greener but also offers us a fantastic excuse not to have to stand for hours handing out leaflets for our show. Leafleting is one of the worst daily chores of the Fringe for performers. It's fine if you're a nubile sixth former with a walk on part in a Brechtian reworking of Heart to Heart, but less so if you're a dancer in your 30s who needs a hand rail to get you through the first 20 minutes of the day. But it doesn't matter how many good excuses you come up to avoid flyering, there's no escaping the weight of the Marketing Gods' disappointment pressing down on you as you sit sipping on your venti soya latte. You're inner Richard Branson, like a capitalist Jiminy Cricket, constantly reminds you that rather than Zenning out in the steam room of Virgin Active, you should be assaulting people with a matt-finish recyclable A6 on the Royal Mile.

But why does anyone bother leafleting? Does it really work? We don't think anyone particularly wants a dog-eared piece of cardboard shoved in their face as they tackle the cobbled hills of Edinburgh and we've never bought a ticket for a show based on a leafleteers half-arsed or over enthusiastic 10-second 'elevator pitch'. There are just too many shows and too many leaflets to make any kind of cut through. Our Edinburgh flat mate, Jonny Woo, suggested the Fringe Society should just ban leaflets altogether and we tend to agree (BTW, Jonny's show at Assembly is fantastic and is getting cracking reviews, you should go). This could be because we're inherently lazy or inherently pragmatic, but surely in this digital age we could come up with a more efficient alternative to flyering? Theatres around the world are relying less and less on old fashion methods of marketing, so why does the myth that hand-to-hand leafleting works still lives on at the Fringe? No one is profiting from this part of the Fringe ecosystem; printers aren't making any money as paper is getting more expensive while competition is getting tougher; VAT isn't chargeable on leaflets so the government don't care; Edinburgh council have to fork out to clean up the mess and performers regularly see their leaflets torn and discarded like former Britain's Got Talent contestants.

There are some people however that are thinking outside the box. The other day we saw a producer with an iPad round his neck showing the trailer for his production - great idea and probably costs the same as design and printing fees. Also, nearly every mobile phone now has Bluetooth; performers could just zap (willing) potential customers a jpeg of their leaflet rather than tearing down a small forest for the sake of their vanity project. These are just a couple of ideas off the top of our heads and we're sure you could come up with a better solution than stapling reviews to bits of card and airdropping them into Assembly Gardens on a daily basis (in fact, Assembly have banned leafleting in their garden - even if you're performing there!). Someone must end the myth that hand-to-hand leafleting works, if not to save the environment, then to save us feeling guilty about lying in until midday.

Up & Over It - Back On Our Feet - Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Assembly George Sq, 18.05