Susannah Smith (Advance Professional Group Inductee)

Circus Ring of Fame Wheel Plaque

Susannah Smith (Advance Professional Group Inductee)

Inducted into the Ring of Fame: 2022

Circus Profession: VP Brand and Creative Services

Born: 1946

Advance Professionals Circus Ring Of Fame Foundation inductee

The group honored as the Advance Professionals wrote the book on live event promotion and management. Since the early days of P.T. Barnum it has been the work of those who executed the tour planning, marketing, advertising , sponsorship and public relations that made the circus a financial success. The circus is equal parts art and commerce. Nothing happens unless a ticket is sold. In the world of show business, without business there is no show.

Many alumni of this group have gone on to become successful entrepreneurs, agents, show producers, marketing and pr agency owners, sports and entertainment executives and venue managers. You will find them in leadership roles of media companies, major league sports (NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS), ticketing companies, concert and talent management, theme parks, fairs and expositions, cultural arts and non profit philanthropic organizations. The universal ties that bind the group  is the collective shared learning experiences gained while working for the circus.

This is the biography of Susannah Smith, a member of the Advance Professionals.

Susannah Smith’s entree into the world of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus commenced during her tenure as the account director at Gulf State Advertising in Houston. This union between Gulf State Advertising and the Feld organization traces its roots back to a seminal moment when Irvin and Israel Feld introduced Portuguese bullfighting to the iconic Astrodome. Subsequently, this relationship deepened with the investment of Judge Roy Hofheinz in the circus, facilitating the Felds’ acquisition of the show from John Ringling North.

At the genesis of her career, Susannah spearheaded all print production endeavors for Ringling. Her trajectory ascended as she assumed the role of “promoter” for the Houston engagement, an annual summer spectacle held at the newly minted “Summit” arena.

In the late 1970s, Susannah received a prestigious invitation from Allen Bloom to join Ringling as the creative director overseeing all advertising design. With an overarching responsibility for the aesthetic cohesion of each new iteration, she meticulously curated the visual identity of Ringling’s productions. Additionally, Susannah oversaw the television and radio production, ensuring a seamless integration of media elements. From 1975 to 1997, her indelible mark graced nearly every facet of Feld productions, particularly in the realm of graphic design and key art. Furthermore, she assumed leadership of the public relations department, thereby harmonizing and amplifying the messaging strategy.

Among Susannah’s most illustrious campaigns are the Living Unicorn, Gunther Farewell Tour, Romeo and Juliette, The Children of the Rainbow show, and the groundbreaking introduction of David Larible to the United States, among others. Her innate talent for discerning the pulse of the audience and crafting compelling narratives earned her accolades as an indispensable force in marketing the “Greatest Show on Earth.” Collaborating informally with Tim Holst, their synergistic partnership yielded enduring success, characterized by the uncanny ability to pinpoint the elusive “silver bullet” for a triumphant marketing campaign.

Susannah’s legacy stands as an unparalleled testament to her stewardship of the Ringling brand during the Feld era. In the annals of history, she will undoubtedly be celebrated as the epitome of effectiveness, leaving an indelible imprint on the iconic institution.