The summer festival season has just started and with it, a huge opportunity for brands to interact and engage with their audiences both online and offline. It’s all about ‘the experience’ for a broad range of people with different tastes from hippies to electro fans. From a revived ‘Trip to Tipp’ all the way to the old skool Electric Picnic at summer’s end, most of the festival attendees are those hard to reach millennials. We know they want unforgettable experiences far more than products, so this is a golden opportunity for brands looking to engage with them.
So, what’s a good plan when linking an experiential marketing strategy to digital? Sorting out clear buyer personas initially allows for good choice of event where your audience is. Being involved in events that have no connection with your positioning is not exactly a winner.
Figuring out creative ways to generate curiosity and grab the attention of festival-goers while enjoying their favourite music is vital. Those halcyon days of hanging a banner or promoting flyers are long gone. Go digital, get social. Most than half of millennials enjoy creating and sharing content on social media, especially when it’s something innovative that creates curiosity. A perfect plan will integrate offline and online strategies, generating curiosity offline that is successful enough to generate online buzz. Some brands have done their homework and are becoming pretty good at this. They have created tents and thematic places inside special areas that are highly effective at becoming the centre of attention with enough time for people to create engagement and brand exposure.
All About Experiences
At California’s massive Coachella festival in April, Cupcake Vineyards arrived with a plan to generate buzz online. The brand invited attendees to hang out by its Cupcake Truck where they could enjoy some of the brand’s wine. The truck was an art installation, which encouraged people to take photos and share on social media, with the hashtag #sharethejoy. Also, for music fans that couldn’t attend the event, Cupcake offered live coverage of the festival via Facebook Live, and the online activity was boosted with the help of influencers.
In the next field over, cosmetic specialists Sephora meanwhile created a space where people could have their hair and make-up done or just have their face painted using Sephora products. Visitors enjoyed it so much – helped no doubt by visiting Cupcake Vineyards truck first – that huge online exposure was generated globally for the brand allowing them to push new products, attract new fans thanks to them ensuing that #sephora and #sephoracoachella were trending globally, thereby generating a good buzz online. This is a great example of well-structured brand planning. They studied their target audience and knew exactly where to find them. As Coachella attracts celebrities and a crowd that is very fashion oriented, it was the perfect place to find current and new consumers for the brand and encourage them to share the experience online with other wannabes. Of course if it had been a hipster gig like Castlepalooza or Body & Soul, things probably wouldn’t have worked so well.
Mobile company Three are all over this from Longitude and Punchestown through to Electric Picnic with clever tactics. The “providing solutions for your needs” kind of plan will be generating many shares and comments online. They’ll provide onsite charging services to make sure your mobile keeps working for the whole weekend. God forbid that you’ve an outage and your Instagram channel suffers by going dark… Lots of special treats for those young / brave enough that are camping for the weekend will also be provided to personalise their experience alongside sponsored placements during the festival like ‘3 Jukebox’ and ‘3 Silent Disco’. All to be shared online of course with trendy hashtags like #3disco, which is already being pushed hard on the brand’s site.
It’s not just brands that are making their presence felt through sponsorships who are aware of how vitally important that engagement is. Festival organisers themselves have been pretty active as well. Using an integrated digital approach with various online channels gives attendees the feeling that the event is part of their life even months before the kick-off, when all the magic starts. A good example I came across was Rock Werchter Festival, that happens in July in Belgium. They’ve combined email marketing, social and their super-useful App to generate excitement months before the event. It encourages fans to follow their profiles on social media and check out past years’ editions, watch videos about the artists who’ll be playing and share thoughts with friends about their expectations for the different gigs. The festival App has everything the attendees need to be fully informed, before and during the festival. Knowing what’s going on at a big event is important as is being the first to be ‘in the know’ thanks to a range of news items related to different artists. Visitors can plan their trip checking train schedules (do they ever get train strikes in Belgium I wonder?) and can plan their schedules with mates by adding the bands they’re going to see in which stage and at what time they’re going to play.
People attend festivals looking for unforgettable experiences and with a well-planned digital strategy leveraging offline activity, a brand can be very successful at being part of the best memories.
John Ring is managing director, Tinderpoint
First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ May/June 2018)© to order back issues please call 016611660