Old Becomes New, Thanks to a Reboot

Networks and streaming services are continuing to reboot hit sitcoms—and many are finding success. Should your association consider taking a similar approach with a meeting?

This week, CBS announced it was bringing back its hit sitcom Murphy Brown for 13 episodes next season. And it’s not the first network to revive a beloved series: NBC did it with Will & Grace last fall (and is supposedly in talks about doing the same for Mad About You), while ABC will reboot Roseanne in March.

While some entertainment critics cringe at the lack of originality these revivals bring to the TV landscape, others argues that it’s an effective strategy for getting people’s attention.

Another benefit networks are seeing from these reboots is that advertisers want to be a part of them. In an interview with ABC News, Jason Lynch, AdWeek’s TV expert, said advertisers love that there’s a built-in audience from years ago who’s likely going to want to check out the revival.

So, with networks and streaming services like Netflix seeing success with bringing back these oldies but goodies, is there something to be learned from the strategy when it comes to your meeting and events? Here are three potential opportunities I see if you decide to do some sort of “event reboot”—whether that’s reviving an old conference or bringing back a successful element or two from years past:

You can cater to your attendees’ need for nostalgia. I grew up watching Full House, so I was excited to hear about the Netflix sequel Fuller House. It also made me reminisce about my elementary school years, when I sat in front of the TV every Friday night to catch the latest episode with my two best friends. More important for Netflix, I binge-watched the first season of the sequel as soon as it was released. Did your association have a successful conference a decade to two ago that, if brought back, could get some of your members reminiscing and excited enough about a reboot to register in force?

You can offer fresh takes on old favorites. Are there elements of former meetings that cause members to say, “Hey, remember when you did this?” If so, you may be sitting on a gold mine. Consider offering a “Best Of” track, where you repackage former favorites for today’s attendees. Or, think about how some successful nondigital strategies could work in today’s digital-first world.

You can more easily secure sponsors and advertisers. As advertisers rush to put their money behind TV revivals, consider whether your association may be able to do the same if you can show potential sponsors what’s in it for them and identify what audiences—both old and new—they may be able to reach. And if you can show them that a reboot is something your attendees are asking for, it could be even harder for them to turn down the opportunity.

I know my suggestion to bring back something old may sound a bit odd, especially when it seems like companies and organizations are obsessed with innovation and launching new products and services. But I think, with the right approach, it could turn out to be a surprising success.

Has your association ever revived or rebooted a meeting or an element of an event that had been successful in the past? If so, how did that go? Let us know in the comments.

"Murphy Brown" was a great show, wasn't it? (CBS)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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