Apr 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM
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Music Festival Sponsorship: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

We have been talking a lot about music sponsorship here at Slingshot. Mainly because we are knee-deep in a couple of very exciting music projects, but also because everyone is gearing up for festival season. Mostly I have been consumed with which festival to go to for our agency’s second birthday, but I have also been having some interesting conversations with both brands and rights holders on what is coming up this year and the current state of music festival sponsorship.

The Good

Festival sponsorship has always been a great platform for brand engagement – especially in the UK market with the English music lover’s ability to bare rain, sun, sleet, and a muddy tent with a smile on their face. It not only provides the perfect atmosphere for a receptive audience, but also the space to really leverage brand experiences. Festival-goers walk away with memories they cherish forever, which can provide a significant amount of brand recall for future years to come. Consider V Festival – the name so synonymous with Virgin Media it surprises many when you find out they don’t actually own this festival, but just act as the Headline Sponsors.

The Bad

Because festival s has been such a great sponsorship platform, brands have flocked in droves – creating a cluttered market. Instead of engaging with a couple brands, festival goers are often bombarded by marketing messages,samples, activations, offers and more. One festival had so many pre-sale sponsors that most people didn’t know where to purchase tickets and so opted to not do it, which consequently saw the festival getting cancelled as they couldn’t underwrite the loss nor project the future sales of tickets for a show that saw a disjointed initial promotion.

The Ugly

Not only are festivals becoming more cluttered making it difficult for brands to ensure cut through, more festivals are entering the market and then being cancelled for a variety of reasons (see above). This creates nervousness for Marketing Directors who really need to be confident that their marketing budget is safe and working for them. Plans, resources, campaigns are in place well in advance and having a significant portion of their plans cancelled at the last minute is just not an option in the current economic climate where budgets are scrutinised and sometimes wrong decisions can place your job in jeopardy. Last year alone saw 42 festivals cancelled and already this year many major festivals are also calling in the towel.

But all is not lost!

This is not to say that sponsoring music festivals is a bad idea – far from it. But there needs to be careful consideration into which music festivals brands do choose to partner with and also a solid strategy in which to activate. When both the brands and the rights owners work together amazing potentials can be created and tend to drive not only the experience for the muddied music lover, but also create brand advocates and sustain the festivals that can deliver these innovative types of sponsorship collaborations.

Jackie Fast is Managing Director at London-based sponsorship agency, Slingshot Sponsorship. Jackie offers running commentary on the Slingshot Sponsorship blog, and allows us to republish here when the subject fits.