Pleasantville Music Festival Enlivened By Branding Whiz

Advertising exec Andy Goodman brings a new vision to the annual music festival, now in its 11th year.

If you were one of the several thousand people who attended this year’s Pleasantville Music Festival in July, you were probably too busy listening to the Gin Blossoms (above), Marshall Crenshaw, and Lost Leaders, drinking Captain Lawrence brews in the Beer Garden and noshing on food-truck fare from DoughNation and Walter’s Hot Dogs to notice an unassuming guy in a blue polo and Brandeis cap running around ensuring everything was humming along smoothly. That guy was Andy Goodman, the festival’s executive director, who is responsible for overseeing all the minute details of the event, which this year—the festival’s 11th—featured nine hours of music from 16 acts on three different stages.

Goodman does it all as a volunteer—as does everyone who works on the festival, some 30 people on the executive committee, as well as 130 volunteers on the ground the day of the event. 

Goodman’s day job is as owner/independent creative director of the branding firm Goodman Vance in Pleasantville. He’s worked in advertising for more than 20 years, including posts with such venerable firms as Wells Rich Greene and Jordan McGrath Case & Partners, on high-profile accounts that include Heineken, Chase, Sheraton Hotels, Nicorette, and Bounty.

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Goodman’s advertising approach is part of what helped to make the festival such a success this year, his first as executive director. “Even from the very first meeting this year, we approached [the festival] as if it were a brand-building strategy session,” Goodman explains. “We said, ‘What do most people like about the experience? Who do we think is the main target [audience]?’ We talked about all the things that typically go into a marketing brief and then came up with what our messaging should be.”

The Pleasantville Music Festival (above) is run by an all-volunteer staff, led by advertising exec Andy Goodman (left, wearing hat), shown with Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer.

Out of those early strategy meetings came a series of initiatives Goodman enacted for 2015: a new layout for the stages; a different approach to fundraising, including a Kickstartr campaign and reduced ticket prices for advanced purchases to generate up-front funds to secure higher-earning bands; a revamped website and increased social-media presence; and a new featured charitable partner, the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which raises money for cancer research.

Accomplishing all of that within one year was no small feat. And, surprisingly, what drives Goodman is less a love of music than a love of Pleasantville. “The festival is what makes Pleasantville, Pleasantville,” he says. “It’s not about social capital here but about stepping in to make your community even more enjoyable.” 

For Goodman, the rewards are worth the long hours: “Looking out that day and seeing thousands of people enjoying themselves, knowing that I was part of making it happen,” he says, “is pretty cool.”

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