In 2013 the art industry in Spain lost 30% of viewers in just one year. The historic loss of audience was the result of the government’s decision to raise the VAT on theater shows from 8% to 21%.
The independent comedy theatre company Teatreneu decided to treat the situation with humor and invented a unique method of payment for its shows: pay per laugh.
Teatreneu proposed its spectators the following deal: the entrance was free and they only paid for what they consumed. Thus if the show wasn’t funny enough to make them laugh they paid nothing. On the other hand if they enjoyed the show and felt the need to laugh, each smile cost them 30 euro cents. To be sure that no one would cry in the end for having laughed more than they could afford, the company set 80 laughs (or 24 euros) to be the maximum amount to pay for.
Pay per laugh gimmick was possible due to a facial recognition software that once installed on an iPad is able to detect laughing, crying or any facial expression programmed into it.
To be able to count every spectators’ smile, each theatre seat was fit out with the system before the show. After the show was finished, the spectators could check their ‘laughter account’ before paying, and even share it on their social networks.
Pay per laugh system attracted 35% more spectators, while increasing the amount of ticket money each show produced. Also, the campaign (conceived by The CYRANOS McCANN, Barcelona) was very appreciated at Cannes 2014 where it has picked up 8 Lions.
Because of its efficiency, the system is currently being copied in other comedy theatres in Spain.
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