Seven ways brands can get ahead at festivals

Seven ways brands can get ahead at festivals
Seven ways brands can get ahead at festivals

Brands have been making the most of this year's festival season with the likes of Carlsberg and Cadbury tapping into the party vibes that spending a weekend in a field brings. But they need to stay one step forward so what should they be planning for next year?

1. Become a festival partner

"The experience starts the moment people buy tickets – or even earlier," says Rachel Bateman, head of live engagement at Initials. "They want to plan outfits, synchronise set times, discuss on social media.

"It's no longer enough for brands to just show up. They need to play the long game. The best way to do this is to forge close partnerships with each festival. Take the festival on the creative journey, communicate and be adaptable.

2. Embrace unique festival insights

"Festivals are an escape," she adds. "The last thing people want is to feel marketed to. While brands have an opportunity to be disruptive, this should be balanced with what paying customers want. Brands that get it right take time to understand their role within the context of each festival, and enhance the experience without being forceful."

3. Create something for the loyal bunch

Damian Clarke, founder and chief executive of Undercurrent, says: "Festival goers tend to be quite a loyal bunch, often attending multiple festivals on an annual basis so brands providing those one-off experiences such as side of stage viewing, surprise gigs at on site installations, artist meet and greets etc are sure to stand out for all the right reasons."

4. Give fans the chance to relive the festival

"By demonstrating a deep understanding of the festival audience, brands can automatically offer experiences that have genuine value rather than just hanging a logo on an irrelevant activation and hoping for the best," Clarke adds.

"User and professionally generated content also appeals to the festival heads out there, giving them the opportunity to revisit their favourite moments from a new and enhanced perspective after the festival has ended and beyond."

5. Be less static and more reactive

"Branded homes at festivals have become the norm," says Tom Shipman, planner at RPM. "These activations are static and must work very hard to tempt festival goers away from the talented acts and other entertainment on offer. There is a massive untapped opportunity for brands to offer that much desired, unexpected, and surprising moment that stays in the mind of those who experience it.

"With the powers of social listening as well as on the ground ambassadors, brands are able to track what is going on at every moment of a festival and react to it. There is the potential to turn lower tempo moments or even negatives (queues, toilets, rain...) into stand out experiences."

6. Creating exclusive festival products, packaging or serves

Shipman adds: "Festivals with good mates have become a rite of passage for younger generations and are often the highlight of the year for them. Imagine then how highly valued a one-off festival memento can be.

"The Parklife Festival 2017 special edition beer bottle, for example, that is kept on bedroom windows as a constant reminder of that incredible weekend. This year at Parklife, Captain Morgan and Smirnoff both created special festival cocktails – wouldn't it be great if consumers could then take themselves back to those happy festival memories by recreating the serves at home?

"There is plenty of space in this area for brands to stand out by innovating and playing with their products in order to create lasting memories."

7. Let down your hair and have some fun

"Just as consumers go to festivals to let their hair down, get away from normality and have some fun, brands should start to do the same," explains Shipman. "There is a growing trend for play-style activities aimed at adults, and festivals are the ideal space to act on this and create experiences that focus on being fun and playful at heart.

"Old Mout have acted on this brilliantly this summer, with their Kiwi Camp activation that hosted fun participatory activities, such as a superhero-themed slide and Rockaoke. Kia also got into the fun-loving spirit and created a roller disco at Lovebox and Wireless, allowing attendees to see how much fun they could have on eight wheels."

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