FESTIVALS-IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE

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Anna Brettle Jones, Account Director explores the effectiveness of brands targeting festival goers this coming summer...

Summer Festivals have been big business for a long time in the UK with multi millions being generated . But with the host of successful events there have also been a series of recent disasters to the live music industry. Live Nation had to pull the plug on Sonisphere last year due to ‘logistical’ reasons….read into that bad sales and artist restrictions. Hard Rock Calling has moved venues due to noise concerns in Hyde Park. Guilfest, once a success has gone bust and Creamfields was cancelled due to bad weather. Last summer saw some promoters pulling their hair out!

YouGov’s worrying statistics that 54% of those surveyed who went to a festival in 2012 do not plan to go to one in 2013 have left the experiential industry asking whether festivals, increasingly part of brands plans, are still effective in targeting consumers? Consumers now demand more than a branded dance tent to add value to their experience. Others suggest that the public have got weary of the over commercialism of some events and as a result Hop Farm in Kent now hails itself as ‘Brand Free’.

The challenge for experiential marketers is to ensure that a credible brand experience can actually exist and add value to a festival experience rather than just fund that expensive American headline act! The balance needs to be carefully taken into account as to how prominent a brand should be. I believe the public is tired of mediocrity; if we create a great experience they will still engage. Simply having a presence at a festival is not enough. We must add a new dimension, a reason to enrich the consumers weekend. Then brands will have a much better chance at seeing a return on investment.

Isle of Wight Festival last year partnered with Spotify. They created a huge digital Spotify player which was displayed on 2 giant video walls on the main stage. With the aid of a presenter the audience selected the playlist for in-between live acts. This activity credibly reflected the Spotify's USPs and brand personality. It was a roaring success for both Spotify and the festival with Isle of Wight organiser John Giddings commenting “I have not seen the crowd engaged so intently with the activity in-between artists for a very long time, people loved the non-stop show, plus great synergy with what our festival is all about…great music”.

There is a real opportunity to create brand led, long lasting, memorable experiences for consumers that are worthwhile. But they must go beyond the obvious and frankly tired branded bar. Festivals are still massively popular with some highly desirable demographics. Competition, line ups, budgets and weather will always play a part in the success of an event. But a great idea, and a skilful execution will ensure a brand leaves the consumer with a positive experience and the start of a long lasting relationship.

Anna Brettle Jones
Account Director
iD In-store

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