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The Changing Face of the Circus


A month ago I was invited to preview the new “LEGENDS” edition of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey® in New York.  As the publicist for the circus in Hartford, CT, the goal was to discover the new production and get a feel for what was coming to Connecticut in the spring.

Feld Entertainment, producer of the world-famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus selected Regan Communications to promote the circus’ annual visit to Hartford. Year after year, the challenge has been to ensure that Ringling Bros. continues to succeed in spite of growing competition in the entertainment industry. Perhaps most difficult is keeping the circus” fresh and hip”.  To achieve this goal, we’ve deployed a PR campaign consisting of grassroots media, community relations and general brand awareness. We work closely with “Mom Bloggers” throughout the area to inform and educate them about the circus event and invite them to discover it before it comes to town.

About two months ago, the media reported about a shortage of clowns in the United States. We learned that clowns are faced with extinction. “Circus folks fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon,” reported the New York’s Daily Johnathan Lee Iverson
News in February. Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004. 

The lack of clowns has yet to hurt the 144-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus. “Our audience expects to be wowed,” said David Kiser, Ringling Bros. director of talent. “No longer is it good enough to just drop your pants and focus on boxer shorts.”

Precisely. The clowns are no longer the face of the circus. Known as The Greatest Show On Earth®, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus combines extraordinary animal performances, daring high-wire acts with lots of contemporary surprises and thrills for a unique circus-going experience. 

The show is kept at a frenetic pace by New York City-bred and Hartford HARTT School-trained Johnathan Lee Iverson, Ringling’s first African-American ringmaster, who brings a wild energy to the show.  It’s a grandiose experience with live music.

Who says the circus is all about clowns?

Those who suffer from Coulrophobia (or fear of clowns) will be more than satisfied.


Sandrine Sebag, Senior Vice President, Regan Communications, Hartford

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