Media: Double Standards - Why music festivals and brands are best friends

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 15 May 2009 12:00AM

Robert Guterman and Dave Chase wax lyrical about the value of relating to the festival-goer and the benefits that can bring to both the brand and the consumer.

ROBERT GUTERMAN - DIRECTOR, BIG FISH EVENTS

- In terms of the music, what's the most exciting thing on offer at a music festival this summer?

It is great to see Blur, Kraftwerk and The Specials back gigging. However, the great thing about festivals is catching a new band that you've never seen and finding a new favourite. I'm particularly looking forward to checking out The Horrors, Lady GaGa and White Lies.

- With so much activity happening in this area, how do brands avoid the problem of clutter at festivals?

The real trick for brands is deciding why they're getting involved with the event in the first place, and then to find a creative and imaginative way to not only fulfil their criteria but also to engage. It's amazing to see how many brands go wrong by missing one of these points. There's little value in creating something really cool if it has no relevance to the brand.

- Are there brands/sectors that you feel are missing an opportunity in not getting involved in festival sponsorship/content?

Some of the financial brands could benefit from being more involved in festivals. It could be a positive step for them at this point in history when faith in financial services is at rock bottom. From a basic realignment of the brand, through to offering a service such as cashless events, would not only benefit the brand, but also genuinely give back to those attending.

- Why is music so attractive to brands as a way of communicating with consumers?

What better way of communicating with the consumer than through one of their passions? Music is such an important part of many people's lives. By supporting that passion and adding value to it, brands have a real opportunity to engage consumers in a meaningful way.

- What's the most exciting sponsorship by a brand involving a festival that you've ever seen?

There are a number of brands that have got it right. Virgin supporting the V Festival for the past 13 years shows it has music running through its veins. Bacardi and Strongbow show their continuing support of experiential activity, while Carling's Cold Beer Amnesty always goes down well. Looking to the green future of events, I was really impressed by Scottish Hydro's activation at Connect last year, offering attendees rickshaw transportation along with cycle-powered showers.

- Are brands cutting back on their involvement in music due to the downturn?

Some brands have inevitably dropped out, but overall we've seen an increase in business this year. We may be in the midst of a recession, but those brands that continue to move forward with their plans will be in a much stronger place when the economy starts moving again. Working with music is a cost-effective way of keeping your brand in the forefront of the consumer's mind.

- Can you share with us your most interesting personal festival experience?

My favourite moment of any event is wandering around the site while the headliners are on stage, watching tens of thousands of people having the time of their lives and thinking that I had a small part in making this happen.

DAVE CHASE - HEAD OF MUSIC PARTNERSHIPS, MINDSHARE

- In terms of the music, what's the most exciting thing on offer at a music festival this summer?

For me, it's the return of the mighty Blur at Glastonbury.

- With so much activity happening in this area, how do brands avoid the problem of clutter at festivals?

Brands must add value and relevance to the experience to be embraced by the audience. Positive examples include the Orange Recharge tent, Lynx Manwash and Carling's Cold Beer Amnesty. People need to recharge phones, they like to be clean (especially when they get hosed down by hot girls!), and we all prefer a cold drink to a warm one, so they all added value. Barclaycard should prove to be the next brand to cut through with its Live Nation partnership delivering cashless festivals, a huge benefit to the consumer.

- Are there brands/sectors that you feel are missing an opportunity in not getting involved in festival sponsorship/content?

Festival-goers often spend months planning for the event and if a brand can help simplify this process, they would be welcomed with open arms by the consumer. Festivals are the main summer holiday for many festival-goers, especially this year with the credit crunch, so perhaps travel companies could be engaging in this space, with a view to migrating the consumers to international festivals or more traditional summer holidays in the future.

- Why is music so attractive to brands as a way of communicating with consumers?

It's well documented that music is enormously important to consumers, with various research studies confirming that music is aspirational, it changes mood, reminds people of a past experience etc. Festivals are a lifestyle choice and an easy way to reach a decent chunk of the 18-24 demographic in one go. There's now also a growing older audience, whose tastes are still being catered for at major events, but also via bespoke events such as Camp Bestival. It's common sense, but it stacks up.

- What's the most exciting sponsorship by a brand involving a festival that you've ever seen?

Carling's Cold Beer Amnesty wins hands down. From the consumer's point of view, it was unexpected, a huge benefit and appreciated. From a brand point of view, it allowed Carling to present the product in its best possible light, directly to consumers, while adding relevant entertainment in a branded environment on the campsite after the bands had finished. Cold Carling is preferable to a warm can of even your favourite lager at a festival.

- Are brands cutting back on their involvement in music due to the downturn?

To an extent, yes, festivals are seen as a removable luxury by some clients, but not to the extent that the major festivals are suffering. There is a natural cycle of brands removing their marketing spend allowing new players to enter the festival arena. A couple of years ago you had Carling dominating, but now it's scaled back allowing the likes of Tuborg and Gaymers to take the alcohol and live music honours. Plus there's O2, which has already been replaced with Barclaycard by Live Nation, and you then have brands such as Virgin Mobile and Orange continuing their long associations with V and Glastonbury.

- Can you share with us your most interesting personal festival experience?

Making one of Boyzone wait outside in the rain when he turned up ticketless and tried to blag it into the VIP area with his new band at V Festival. I enjoyed that.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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