The Summer Sale

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  • 1. THE SUMMER SALE Making Festivals Pay Jim Dowling 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.
  • 2. 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.