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As Denver and local marketers prepared for the first-annual Grandoozy music festival that hit the city earlier this summer, I started to think more about how sponsoring and/or advertising at local and national festivals can bring great exposure for companies and brands —if done correctly.
A lot has changed over the years in regards to music festival sponsorship. We’ve recently seen marketers shy away from using overt signage and traditional marketing tactics. Instead, they’ve been turning to influencers, on-site experiences, and the evolution of technology to increase their activation. In fact, IEG reported last year that companies were projected to spend about $1.54 billion sponsoring music venues, festivals, and tours, which is a 4.8 percent increase from 2016 and a $260 million increase in just four years.
These statistics speak to the value of this captivated audience in the music industry alone. But, even if you’re not planning on joining the ranks of Anheuser-Busch or Uber anytime soon (the two top music-festival sponsors of 2017), it’s still a great idea to take a look at what music festivals are doing in terms of new and different experiential marketing tactics and to consider using these ideas as inspiration for your other marketing endeavors. To help, The Pineapple Agency, a Denver event marketing group that specializes in experiential marketing strategy, has put together some great information on this in “How to Create Successful Music Festival Brand Activations.” Here are three of its top six tips:
According to Engage for Good, nearly “two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z express a preference for brands that have a point of view and stand for something” and “76% of young people said they have purchased (53%) or would consider purchasing (23%) a brand or product to show support for issues the brand supports or represents.”
A perfect example of this is another popular Colorado festival, ARISE. Although smaller than some others and family-run, the ARISE Music Festival stands on the green platform as a leave-no-trace event. According to the festival’s website, “ARISE is renowned for its bold and progressive ‘global cooling’ initiatives, such as a long-held commitment to planting one tree with every ticket sold, staging a pre-festival permaculture training, local sourcing, an organic farmer’s market in the campground, and a leave-no-trace ethos.”
But even if your overall event isn’t linked to a specific cause or ideal as ARISE is, brands still have the opportunity to back a cause on their own by partnering with a cause and offering participants opportunities to donate in creative ways. Some examples of this are rounding up drink or food prices to the nearest dollar or letting attendees know that you’re donating a certain portion of ticket sales to that particular cause.
Humans are naturally drawn to things that are and feel exclusive. Offering special deals and experiences to certain members of your audience, such as rewards members or long-time customers, can pique the interest of not only those who are currently in the “insider club” but also those who aren’t yet.
The Pineapple Agency shared the following example from Marriott’s 2018 Coachella activation: “Marriot’s Luxury W Hotel Yurts offered something for Marriott Rewards members and the general public alike, though rewards members got a sweeter deal. Before the event, rewards members could bid on the rights to use one of the luxury yurts to escape the heat and crowds, and one yurt went for 800,000 reward points, which is the equivalent of $38,233.” The entire activation rewarded members of Marriott’s loyalty program and likely caused some serious FOMO for nonmembers. Even though this example is clearly on a grand scale, there are still many opportunities for smaller brands to offer deeper discounts and experiences to their exclusive members. Even just having separate seating or a free beverage can make people feel special and exclusive.
Most experiential marketing activations focus mainly on creating an amazing experience during the actual event, but The Pineapple Agency suggests that you also entice your audience before and after.
One way that brands can start building awareness and engagement before people actually arrive (and also continue that engagement well into the festival) is with the tried-and-true contest. For example, giving away a VIP experience gets people to interact with your brand beforehand and also illustrates the exclusivity focus we mentioned above.
But your interaction doesn’t have to end there. Levi’s is a perfect example of one brand that made a lasting impact on its audience both during and after Coachella by having concert-goers create custom Levi’s pieces that they could wear for months — or years — to come.
So, there you have it! As you can see, music festivals are an excellent place to look for inspiration on how to refresh your approach and discover new ways to engage with your audience. And even if the millennial festival-goer demographic is not your target, these tactics can be used for sponsorship at any type of event.