THE SUMMER SALE
Making Festivals Pay
May 21 2010
The sun’s coming out at last and it’s a time of year when brand managers get twitchy.
For those trying to persuade us to buy premium cider, ice cream or garden furniture,
a daily bulletin from Peter Cockroft or Wendy Hurrell temporarily surpasses the sales
director as the most important meeting of the day.
For the many who will have signed off fat cheques to festival promoters over a pint
back in the darkness of winter – reality is soon to dawn. Whether you’re headline
sponsor for a cool seven figure, or a third tier partner of some organic yak-fest in the
back end of Devon – what can you expect for your money?
Robert Guterman of Big Fish Events, wearily responds to my call with, “We get asked
that all the time. It doesn’t work like that.” A disappointing response as I’d hoped that
would have written the article for me. “The reality of the festival sponsorship fee is it is
merely the gate money. The key for brands is what they do for their consumer once
they’re inside the fence.”
Guterman cites his work with Bacardi as proof. 10 years ago Bacardi was served
with a lump of ice and a splash of Spar cola. Drunk for six hours, the drinker then
rejected the product onto her shoes outside Hollywood Nights, Romford. 10 years
on, after a concentrated experiential and sampling campaign focussed on the perfect
pour within its B-Bar, a Cuba Libra or Mojito mixed with Bacardi has become an
acceptable, rather pleasing part of a young, stylish drinker’s repertoire.
A festival is an expensive weekend away. After shelling out the best part of £100,
your average fan’s next move isn’t generally to ruminate what the sponsors’ big plays
for the season will be. In fact, that’s not a bad place for brands to start. If a brand
appreciates that they are comfortably down the pecking order behind the booze,
bands, sex, drugs and those weird stalls that sell cheap sunglasses and tie-dye crap,
they might just have a chance of rising up again.
Carling have been a major player at music festivals for nearly ten years. They’ve
understood very clearly that they’re a beer, and therefore if they provide the best
possible beer drinking experience for festival goers, they’ll appreciate it. They’ll also
take that warmth back to their local and their normal life, when they get home.
Carling’s Cold Beer Amnesty recognised that people didn’t like the warm cans of
cheap lager they were forced hike from the nearest Londis to site. So Carling allowed
them to swap them for free cold cans of their stuff instead. The Carling Local goes
one step further, bringing all the elements of a pub to the festival – a pub with real
seats and sofas, papers to read on a Sunday morning, pints served in pint glasses,
and a piano to belt out tunes into the night. It’s a home from home – which is
precisely their point.
Whether you’ve spent a million or a monkey – making peoples’ lives better at a festival
earns respect, trust and eventually a sale. Between the hours of 11pm and 3am
Orange noticed that festival fans all suffered from that same gripping fear. “It’s pitch
black, I’ve had a few, and I’ve no idea where my tent is.” So they developed the
Orange Text-Me-Home Dome. Send a text to your tent, it lights up and tells you
exactly where it is.
No matter what you’ve spent this summer – ask yourself – am I making people
happy? If not, they’ll walk straight past you and head straight to the bar.