Paul Saville, client services director, Ignite
Paul Saville, client services director, Ignite
A view from Paul Saville

Think BR: Standing out from the branded crowd

Festivals have always been big business but are they starting to lose their shine, asks Paul Saville, client services director, Ignite.

It should be a marketer’s dream. Thousands of young people with disposable cash to burn are packed into a couple of muddy fields with ample time on their hands. 

But last year, an estimated 30 festivals went bankrupt. Have the public fallen out of love with festivals? Or perhaps brand overload to blame - is marketing killing festivals?

Undoubtedly the apocalyptic weather has to share some of the blame for this year’s poor ticket sales, but historically we Brits don’t actually mind a bit of mud and rain all that much.

What visitors have been turned off by are organisers looking to make a fast buck by cramming in as many brands activities as they can, combined with the sheer numbers of festivals on the market.

For many brands, festival activity is simply seen as another tick in the youth engagement box. Festivals will always provide brands with a valuable place and indeed a return, if they add value to the festival experience.

An emotional experience for many, They are a place where people go to try something new, where people are open to experiences. They are, in theory, the perfect home for experiential marketing.

Enhancing the visitor experience rather than overtly selling is key. It’s important to remember why people go to festivals - to listen to music. Give people a better or easier way to listen to the music they came to see or an exclusive opportunity to hear something new.

We have been running onsite activation for Vodafone at ten of this year’s festivals, giving Vodafone customers an enhanced experience with the opportunity to watch the main stage action from the raised and covered Vodafone Viewing Platform - and most popular - mobile charging facilities.

Vodafone gives its customers a way to stay connected when they need it most; ensuring a steady stream of muddy photos, rain-soaked status updates and drenched tweets make their way to the outside world.

 A festival that does corporate sponsorship well is Glastonbury. Brand activity at Glastonbury is subtle and works with, not against the personality of the festival. 

Charity brands dominate the space and the corporate brands that are there are less visible and enhance the experience, offering interactive and free exclusive opportunities.

Glastonbury still maintains its reputation as a grassroots festival, despite making huge profits from the major brand names attached. This integrity is one of the reason is still sells out within hours. 

Top tips for marketing at a festival:

  1. Make sure your brand is right for the festival audience - each has their own demographic
  2. Make sure you are adding value with something that will engage festival goers
  3. Remember why they came in the first place, don’t detract from the core festival experience
  4. Make sure your onsite activity is matched by digital and social engagement to spread the word outside the muddy festival fields.

Paul Saville, client services director, Ignite