May 02, 2013

Musical Festivals: A Branded Experience

In the 1960’s and 70’s, when music festivals began to rise in popularity, they were predominately about rebelling against commercial and corporate gimmicks, and primarily focused on peace, love and, of course, music. Fast forward to 2013 and corporate promotions and branded experiences are as synonymous with music festivals as the music itself.

Music festivals have become a multi-billion dollar industry and an excellent opportunity for brands to reach the hundreds-of-thousands of festival goers each year. Sponsorships for these festivals by big brands payoff for all parties involved. The festivals reap the benefits which, in turn, helps provide a better festival experience for attendees, and the attendees benefit from the amenities and giveaways (often festival essential) from the brands. What’s in it for the brands? Well, they gain awareness – and a lot of it.

A summer 2011 Havas Sports and Entertainment study and found that out of 2,244 respondents, only TWO didn’t notice any sponsorship while at a festival, 36 percent  said they were more likely to purchase a sponsor’s product after experiencing their activation at the festival, and a whopping six out of every 10 brands on site could be recalled by fans.

Fredda Hurwitz, global VP of strategic planning, marketing & communications at Havas Sports commented: “Our research does much to dispel the view that music festivals are a dangerous arena for brand sponsors, and suggests brands are a welcome part of the festival experience if they develop activations that add value.”

Creating a memorable, exciting or unique experience at a music festival is what will set a successful sponsorship apart from those following the not-so-impactful route of traditional signage. When a fan attends a festival, they are seeking an experience, and that doesn’t stop at the bands they come to see, but is carried over to the brands they choose to interact with. There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach a festival sponsorship;  to be successful, it just has to make sense. With summer music festivals kicking into high gear let’s take a look at three different types of brand sponsorships from one of the most popular (and branded) music festivals, Bonnaroo. You’ll see that each of these approaches provides a different, but equally creative way to promote brands.

  • L’oreal Garnier Fructis: More than 80,000 people travel to a remote 700-acre farm in Tennessee each June for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Knowing the attendees would be outside day and night listening music on multiple stages, Garnier Fructis provided practical services, such as free hair-washing and styling in a 40- by 40-foot air-conditioned tent. In an area where trees are scarce and the temperatures regularly reach 90+ degrees, the desire to cleanse yourself of yesterday’s sweat all of a sudden becomes pretty strong.
  • Philips: Philips sponsored a silent disco at Bonnaroo. The company provided 400 of its new CitiScape Collection headphones for guests to wear to listen to tunes being spun by two DJs. In this situation attendees were able to experience firsthand the sound quality and silencing ability of the headphones in a fun, party-like atmosphere.
  • Ford: Ford dubbed its tent at Bonnaroo “Destination Escape,” playing on the name of its Escape vehicle that was displayed outside the tent. Inside, festivalgoers could cool off in the air-conditioned space, listen to live performances and charge their phones. While this essential phone charging service is not directly tied to what Ford’s Escape vehicle provides its users, it certainly generated a ton of exposure for the vehicle.

For additional info on other branded experiences at Bonnaroo, check out Bizbash’s slide show here, and to learn about sponsorships at other festivals, the online pub has produced a similar list extending past Bonnaroo.


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