Why are more brands choosing to sponsor music festivals?
By Roger Hyslop
The number of festivals may have dropped due to the Olympics, but this year nearly 150 music events will take place and it seems brands are still battling for a piece of the action.
Nikon UK, for example, announced this week its sponsorship of the Reading Festival which takes place from August 24-26. It made this last minute commitment with the main objective of promoting its ‘I AM Nikon’ message to a younger audience. Luckily for the camera giant, recent research shows that around 65% of music festival goers believe brands improve the festival experience.
However, this hasn’t always been the case. A few short years ago brand presence at festivals was pretty covert with many music acts wary of being accused of selling out. That all changed with the onset of worldwide mega tours by acts like The Rolling Stones, and because target audience reach was so huge it could no longer be ignored. Big money was being paid for big acts, and brands with big cheque books were welcomed with open arms.
The potential for brand engagement means corporations have upped the ante by becoming, in effect, producers of live concerts and shows. Jägermeister, the German herbal liqueur, plans to roll out experiential events across 25 festivals this summer in a bid to align itself more closely to rock music in the UK.
But as with every new marketing channel or technique, it won’t be long before the industry becomes cluttered. This is when impact will devalue. It could be argued that 2012 has been the year of ‘festival fatigue,’ with too many events for consumers to get involved in, particularly in times of economic hardship.
In recent times there has been a proliferation of events for which brands have become not just the sponsors but the promoters. This is a highly specialised area and they take this on at their own peril. If self promotion becomes too excessive the customer will be turned off and feel they are simply being sold to. What’s more, if the logistics and organisation fall short of expectations, the consequences can be serious.
Brands that take part in established outdoor events with an established track record will continue to build engagement. Copella, for example, has been sampling successfully at events like the Hampton Court Flower Show for several years. More recently, the Lynx Effect has shown how creative experiential activity can build on the brand proposition. Their involvement with festivals like T4, which saw product sampling and entertaining activities including mud wrestling and multi-person showers, has captured the brand essence. And like all successful experiential campaigns, provided excellent content for online communication.
What are the three ways to reap the benefits from sponsoring an event? 1) Make sure it is relevant to your brand, 2) Plan with a capital ‘p,’ 3) Create great content. Get any of these wrong and you could do your brand irreparable harm. Get them right and you will have an army of unofficial brand ambassadors spreading the word via social media whose value will more than outweigh the costs and risks involved.
Roger Hyslop, Non-executive director at INITIALS Marketing