National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB)

THE CHALLENGE

In the summer of 2009, the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) faced a multifaceted challenge. As a small entity initially established for networking purposes, NATB operated with an all-volunteer staff and limited resources. NATB’s uphill battle involved countering negative legislation proposed by Representative Bill Pascrell targeting ticket brokers and the secondary market, while simultaneously organizing opposition to the pending Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. With apparent allies remaining neutral, NATB lacked experienced champions, requiring a strategic public affairs and communications campaign to build support, transform perceptions about the secondary market, and distinguish NATB members as honest participants.

THE SOLUTION

Advocus Partners crafted a comprehensive public affairs campaign with three key tenets. First, addressing the negative legislation, a strategic communications initiative targeted legislators’ local media markets, utilizing op-eds, letters, blogs, and earned media events to build constituent pressure and reshape the narrative. Concurrently, opposition to the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger required creating a coalition, Ticketdisaster.org, bringing together brokers, consumer groups, and academics. The coalition employed a mix of earned and limited paid media, online communications, and events. The final tenet involved educating influencers and policymakers on the secondary market, revamping NATB’s code of ethics, conducting media briefings, and positioning NATB as a thought leader through strategic communication campaigns.

THE RESULT

Despite a limited budget and a negative public perception, NATB successfully educated policymakers and media on the value of the secondary market and reputable brokers. Representative Pascrell’s negative legislation, the BOSS Act, lost traction in Congress, and he transitioned from attacking brokers to publicly acknowledging the distinction between NATB members and non-members. NATB emerged as a stronger voice and thought leader in mainstream media on ticketing-related issues. While the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger proceeded, NATB’s coalition efforts garnered widespread media attention, prompting three meetings with the Department of Justice to advise on regulatory issues. NATB’s strategic playbook influenced StubHub/eBay’s subsequent engagement on paperless tickets through the creation of the Fan Freedom Project.

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