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Festivals Are Music to the Ears of Sponsors

Festivals Are Music to the Ears of Sponsors

This past weekend over 40,000 festival goers converged on Montreal to take in the annual Osheaga Music Festival. Since 2006 Osheaga has attracted the top names in music to play their multi-day festival. Osheaga is one festival in a long list of multi-day concerts that are being held throughout North America, attracting millions of fans. Many festivals will have fans camp throughout the weekend, literally living at these events. With so many people - and so much time spent - at music festivals brands have recognized these as promising investment platforms, both for the exposure opportunity they afford and for the strategic benefit they can provide.  

The large audience is just one of several reasons brands find these festivals so attractive. This week, MKTG breaks down best practices in music festival sponsorship. 

Why Festival Sponsorship?

Engage with Hard to Reach Millennials- In 2014 Millennials overtook Baby Boomers and Generation X to become the largest generation in the Canadian workforce. With increased buying power, for marketers, this segments represents a lucrative audience. However, the millennial demographic is usually a challenging market to reach due to media consumption habits. Music festivals provide brands with a great opportunity to reach this demographic: in 2014, 14.7 million millennials have said they had gone to at least one music festival in the US in the past year.

Data from Momentum Worldwide and AEG Live

Data from Momentum Worldwide and AEG Live

Attendees Open to Activations-  Sporting events see the attendees show up for the game and leave when it is completed, making it hard for brands to engage with fans through activation. On the contrary, a large number of festivals will allow attendees to camp on the grounds during the weekend which means these people will be living on site. While people attend for the concerts, they will also have plenty of time to explore the festival grounds. This will give brands a greater chance of interacting with concert goers through activation due to the length of the event.  

Connect over a Shared Passion- Much like someone’s favourite sports team, people can be just as passionate about their favourite band or artist. For sponsors this gives them an opportunity to connect with an audience over a shared passion. In a report AEG Live found that 93% of 18-34 year olds said they like brands that sponsors live music events.

Reach an International Audience- Music festivals have become a destination event for many concert goers. This makes the audience a geographic mix from all over the world. Music festival Rock in Rio created its first American edition this year hosted in Las Vegas. Organizers sold tickets to 47 different states and 20 different countries. Music festivals can give brands the opportunity to reach an international audience without having to create an international activation. For brands with a multi-regional presence, activating at properties that attract consumers both local and visiting can drive efficiencies. 

Key Takeaways for Sponsors

Brands looking to capitalize on music festivals must go further then setting up a booth and showcasing a product. They must remember that there are lots of activities at these events all competing for the concert goer’s attention. To truly create a memorable activation brands can look to these case studies to learn how to stand out at the festival.

Add Value to the Festival Experience- With many of these festivals taking place in the middle of summer, many music fans will be looking for a way to escape the heat. Last weekend at Osheaga, Perrier created the Perrier Greenhouse. The greenhouse was an air conditioned Perrier bar serving a wide variety of Perrier mixed drinks. Inside a DJ was playing to keep the energy going while concert goers could cool down. Perrier’s location between the main and side stages served as a way to escape the crowds and the heat while still enjoying the festival. The activation was of tangible value to attendees and helped bring the brand’s “cool and refreshing” brand promise to life.

Facilitate a Connection between Attendees- During last year’s Osheaga, Chevrolet created the “Chevrolet Game”. Guests received a code on their wristband and had the objective to find someone with an identical code, those who were able to find their match were entered into a draw to win two Chevrolet Sparks. The activation provided festival goers with the opportunity to meet and connect with new people. The very popular activation received over 2 million social media impressions and approximately 50,000 guests went on a hunt to find their match. Music festivals transcend the individual acts on stage: attendees cite the social elements of a festival experience as important as the music itself. Brands that can help facilitate that connection will breakthrough with consumers.

Give Existing Customers Added Benefits- As a presenting sponsor of Osheaga, Virgin Mobile was able to reward its customers with a variety of added benefits. Virgin Mobile customers were the first people allowed to access Osheaga tickets through a special presale. In addition, Virgin Mobile members had the opportunity to sit in exclusive viewing areas throughout the festival. Offering perks to their customers allowed Virgin Mobile to authentically demonstrate how they can provide for their customers while driving brand envy amongst non-members. 

Emerging Festival Property

As new festivals continue to emerge it is important for brands to monitor them as a potential property. MKTG breaks down three emerging festival properties and their appeal for corporate sponsors:

Wayhome- This year was the inaugural year of the WayHome Music & Arts Festival hosted in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, an hour and thirty minutes north of Toronto. WayHome was put on by Republic Live and AC Entertainment, the same promotion companies behind the successful Bonaroo Festival in Tennessee. Sirius XM, Samsung, Smirnoff, Molson, and Pizza Pizza all were first year sponsors of WayHome. With established promoters behind the festival and it being hosted outside of Canada’s largest city, WayHome has the potential to become a must attend festival for any concert goer. 

Pemberton Music Festival-  Pemberton Music Festival is a four day event that takes place in Pemberton, British Colombia, two hours north of Vancouver. It has only been around for two years but has no problem attracting big name artists. Pemberton also has a comedy portion of their festival, expanding from just music acts. Festival sponsors include Molson Canadian, Sirius XM, Somersby Cider, and Timberland.

Digital Dreams- Digital Dreams is Canada’s largest electronic music festival in Canada hosted at Ontario Place in Toronto. The genre of Electric Dance Music (EDM) maintains a dedicated and passionate fan base. This past June saw almost 30,000 fans attend the fourth edition of the concert. Title sponsor of the event is Bud Light with other sponsors including the Bracardi, Spotify, and Pizza Pizza.

The demand for music festivals continues to grow as more people are attending and new festivals are being created. With its unique benefits for sponsors, it proves to be valuable way to reach a targeted demographic. However, much like the artists performing, sponsors must put on the best show possible to make their mark at the festival. 

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