Give Your Programming & Marketing a New Twist

The Purim Carnival has been a staple of Jewish life since back in the days of Shushan!  But let’s face it, it’s basically the same old story in most communities across the country.  Each year costume-clad kiddies attempt to ring Diet Coke bottles, pluck a winning duck from the pond, or toss a bean bag into Haman’s mouth for penny prizes and fake tattoos.  Some congregations and organizations do it better than others, but for the most part, these events are often “ho-hum” at best.  But they don’t have to be!

Once upon a time, we all went to the Purim Carnival because it’s just what you did.  Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Competition for people’s time and attention is more fierce than ever before.  It’s not that people aren’t interested… they might be. But what you put out there has to pique their interest, or seem worth their time, or you’ll never get them to walk through the door.

After decades in the “Jewish engagement” business I learned a lot just by listening.  I’ve conducted hundreds of focus groups and surveyed thousands of people as it relates to Jewish programming over the years.

When it comes to the traditional Purim Carnival, I hear things like “My kids think the Temple’s Purim Carnival is lame,” or “Last year there were only about 30 people there. It was just sad.” Or, better yet… “My kids would rather just stay home and play video games.”  What’s worse, most parents say they don’t really blame them.  And that’s a shame, because by its very nature, Purim should be a slam dunk. It’s such a kid-friendly holiday and offers the perfect pipeline to Jewish engagement.

Based on anecdotal data alone, it seems clear that Jewish institutions need to be doing a better job of delivering more of what their constituents want and need.  In fact, with declining participation in nearly every area of Jewish life, it’s more critical than ever before…  But how?

Don’t recycle… reimagine!

It’s not just Purim Carnivals.  In recent years, congregations and other Jewish organizations are losing families in record numbers.  Low participation eventually leads to staff and budget cuts which often forces them to keep recycling the same Purim carnival from 40 years ago.  And who can blame them? With a lack of human and financial resources, it’s usually all they can muster.  However, that just leads to a vicious cycle, which unfortunately, leads to the famous definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.”  But it doesn’t have to…

There actually IS a better way!

Over the past 20 years I have put on hundreds of events for every Jewish demographic in Greater Cincinnati and around the region. Many thousands of people attended. In fact, not only did they come, they kept coming back (the true measure of success!) These outcomes were unprecedented, not only in Cincinnati, but in a majority of the Jewish communities around the country.  We owe our success to one thing and one thing only… taking the time to know our audience.  Period.

Getting to know your audience

When we decided to put on our first Purim event a couple of decades ago, we started asking around.  We made it a point to talk with people who had and hadn’t participated in Purim events in the past.  My team and I discovered that fewer and fewer families were attending Purim carnivals.  We learned that nothing much had changed about the theme, the food, the games and even the prizes in decades. “Same old, same old” was a phrase that kept coming up over and over.  Bottom line, Purim carnivals lacked relevancy to the interests and lifestyle of busy modern families.

So now what?

When you have the word “Innovation” in your job title, the pressure is always on to come up with new and creative solutions to old challenges. But I realized, I didn’t have to go it alone… and neither do you!  You have the very best people right in front of you… your target audience.  They can help!

Here’s how…

The I’s have it”: “Investigation Informs Innovation.”  Knowing your audience means doing research to find out what’s trending as it relates to things like music, entertainment, food and fashion, for example?  It also means going to the source… talking to your target audience, listening and learning about what matters to them, what’s fun and sparks their interest, and just as importantly, in the case of young children, what resonates with their parents.

The Winning Formula…

Trend data + Traditional Jewish holiday, ritual or practice = Innovative Program

When you apply this formula, what’s old can be new again, even if you don’t have a lot of money or staff.

The following are examples of some very successful traditional Purim carnivals with a twist that we created over the years using this formula: Hamentaschen Hip Hop, Hocus Pocus Purim and Wild West Purim Fest – click here to see the marketing materials for these events and more examples of design work in our portfolio.

  • Hamentaschen Hip Hop – Hip Hop video telling the Purim story, pre-carnival kiddie concert, music related prizes, family friendly hip hop play list. Hip Hop Harvey character to pose for photos with children.


  • Hocus Pocus Purim – Pre-carnival magic show, magic trick prizes, learn a magic trick booth.


  • Wild West Purim Fest – Kid friendly mechanical bull, wild west carnival games and related prizes, dress in western garb family photo booth

These are three examples, but the possibilities are endless! You just need to take a page from pop culture’s play book and apply it to your Purim programming.  When you repackage, rebrand and reinvent what’s old, you can turn it into something relevant and new again and attract big numbers and reinvigorate engagement!

The most important thing…

You can’t have a great program without great marketing!  Think about it. You could plan a Purim Carnival to rival a day at Disneyland, but if no one knows about it, so what?  Great marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it does have to speak to your target audience, show what’s in it for them and have a clear call to action.  If you don’t have a crack marketing team of your own, consider engaging an outside agency.  It’s a small investment to make in the health and wellness of your organization.

Last year, when The Mayerson Foundation decided to spend down its corpus, I decided to keep my team intact and start my own business, Be Bold Creative. We are the only agency in the country with a special focus on Jewish marketing and programming.  We have a proven track record of helping Jewish organizations maximize their impact, greatly increase engagement and take everything they do to the next level… and we can help you too!

Why work with Be Bold Creative?

We speak your language…literally!

You’ll never have to waste time bringing us up to speed. Bottom line, we have an intimate understanding of Judaism, its traditions, trends, rituals and peoplehood.  That, combined with our proven track record of success in engaging tens of thousands of people in Jewish life, will surely give you the edge when it comes to increasing your organization’s impact through marketing and programming, event planning and more!

Whether you need a standout digital or print promotional piece, help with putting a new spin on an old program or advice on new and innovative ways of engaging your target audience, I’d love to hear from you. Click here if you’d like to talk.