Think BR: There's more to live-event sponsorship than music festivals
Marketers have enjoyed a long and fruitful love affair with music festivals but if you're looking for stand-out there are other opportunities to consider, writes Rory Sloan, RPM.
Rory Sloan, head of production, RPM
Over the last 14 years, I have facilitated our clients with a presence at over 100 music festivals varying from the Isle of Wight, to Creamfields, to Sonisphere, to Secret Garden Party.
Some UK festivals were utterly fantastic, while others were not so, yet the consistency between them lies in their ever-increasing popularity.
There are more festivals for consumers to attend now than ever before, which also means increased opportunities for brands to target them.
Unfortunately, though, the growth in popularity of UK festivals hasn’t been without its negatives, as recent debate is suggesting.
With brands clambering over each other to reach their target audience and prevail over competitors, promoters have seen a chance to cash in on the increased demands.
I’d like to stress that I’m not averse to commercially-minded individuals looking to get a return on their investment from a successful music festival.
However, what I do have an issue with is a brand’s marketing team and its agencies not giving proper consideration to more alternative events.
It isn’t just music festivals that have been rising in popularity. As a nation, we have been embracing all events in a big way, and there are some fantastic non-music events out there with impressive footfall and good value sponsorship offerings.
If you took a hypothetical three-day music festival with a footfall of 65,000, it could look to charge in the region of £100k to a 2nd or even 3rd tier sponsor which would include a site space and some fairly limited marketing rights.
Compare this to Airbourne Eastbourne, a 500,000 capacity, four-day event that looks for a headline sponsorship of just £75k.
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly value in targeting a specific audience, but then surely a well-devised and targeted marketing campaign will resonate with the desired consumer no matter what.
Furthermore, a 500,000 capacity event will have a diverse crowd, so even if you are only looking to talk to 20% of them (100,000), that is still significantly more than you could find at all but the biggest music festivals.
Some brands have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded by more alternative events, through building relationships and staying ahead of the game.
Supporting up-and-coming events can see them reap the rewards in years to come. Canon, for example, has done some lovely work in recent years at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world’s largest military airshow. It built a dedicated grandstand for "Prosumers", giving a VIP experience to existing customers while still creating some good lens envy among them.
It also gave a "nose up against the glass" feeling for non-customers unable to gain access.
Using this as an example, the question stands: could Canon have created a viewing platform in front of the main stage at any music festival in the country? Yes.
Would it have been as good value? No.
The other challenge brands must take into account is consumer expectation. Music festival tickets range from £70-£200 compared to community-based events, which are either free or cost a maximum of £20 to attend.
It is also easier for brands to tap into more of a community atmosphere. A lot of the major retailers, such as M&S, have found agricultural shows to be beneficial, from bringing to life their ‘field to fork’ in-store communications to communities of consumers, right through to connecting with their suppliers all under the same roof, giving greater transparency to their business.
I’m not biased to one genre of events over any other, but I am keen for marketers to use events to their full potential as part of their wider marketing campaigns.
For me, the only thing worse than a marketer choosing not to use live events as part of a marketing campaign is if they choose the wrong event to attend and therefore are put off attending events in future.
Rory Sloan, head of production, RPM
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