Monster Energy Partners With Outlook Festival 2013 24th July, 2013

Monster Energy has partnered with Outlook as the festival’s ‘Official Energy Partner’. With Monster launching in Outlook’s homeland (Croatia) this Summer, the US energy drink has incorporated the bass-music festival into its portfolio of live music events to launch a number of regional and international activations. This will include on-pack promotions and online competitions in the build-up to the event across 12 international markets; sampling at the four-day festival itself; and exclusive video content to be released once the festival finishes in September.

Mark Mylam, Account Manager for Outlook & Dimensions Festivals at Slingshot, commented:

We’re delighted  that Monster has teamed up with Outlook Festival 2013. The heavy, ‘live-fast’ attitude the Monster brand represents ties-in perfectly with Outlook’s young and passionate demographic, paving the way for some really unique activation over the next three months. The fact that Outlook is Monster’s sole music property as it launches in Croatia, illustrates how highly regarded the festival is regionally, while the global competitions  being run through Monster’s Facebook page show its global appeal.

We can’t wait to see the Monster  team along the Adriatic Coast in September!

This deal was brokered by Slingshot Sponsorship.

Thinking of warmer climates: Why UK brands are investing in festivals abroad 27th November, 2013

The fact that the heating is permanently on in our office, my (much maligned) Parka jacket has come out from the back of the wardrobe and I’m already bored of the hype around Christmas can mean only one thing: it’s November.  In order to stave off the cloying, high-pitched tones of Santa’s elves and remind us of warmer times, our friends at Outlook have released their 2013 Festival highlights – a 9 minute long adventure through the myriad of music and magic that is Fort Punta Christo, Croatia, for four days at the end of August each year.

The video itself takes me back to an incredible two weeks working at Outlook and Dimensions Festivals this summer, but it’s a scene at 4:22 that reminded me just how successful the sponsorship around both festivals was for 2013. The scene (below) is UK-based DJ EZ performing a headline set wearing the official festival jacket, which was created by the festival’s fashion partner, Majestic Athletic. Over 500 of these jackets were created to announce the partnership, with an initial 100 being used for promotional purposes (gifting, Facebook competitions and artist fashion shoots) with the remaining 400 selling out within the first 48 hours of going on sale at the festival itself.

Majestic’s sponsorship of Outlook was a major success for the brand, as were the campaigns by the other partners we brought in for 2013. Although all four key partners were successful, investing big chunks of UK marketing budget in festivals 1,000 miles away was a leap of faith for all parties: a ‘shot in the dark that paid off’ were the words of another sponsor who I recently had a sign-on meeting for 2014 with. So, why were the sponsorships so successful and why are UK brands increasingly looking to partner with foreign-based (in particular Croatian) festivals instead of the closer and well-trodden events in the UK.

The experience

I think anyone who’s spent a week partying in an abandoned Austro Hungarian fort that overlooks the Adriatic Sea, sunbathing on a beach all day while eating fresh calamari for 50% of what a burger costs in the UK would find it hard to argue that festivals along the coastline of Croatia have one-up on your standard ‘music-in-a-field’ UK festival. The exotic location and the novelty of the experience make stronger, lasting ‘holiday-like’ memories that invariably influence brand-attitudes and ultimately purchasing decisions amongst festival goers when they return back home.

The audience: adventurous and committed

Whether it’s booking flights, changing currency or remembering your passport, getting to Croatia takes more effort than going to Reading. There’s also the reality that your mum can’t pick you up if you drink one too many tequilas and lose your wallet containing all of the above. In short, this means that the 30,000 hardy souls that descend on Pula for Outlook and Dimensions each year, not only rely less on their parents, but are also likely to be more adventurous and instigators of brand trends, rather than followers. For a drinks or clothing brand these are the exact people they want to target as they are the people that will promote their brand when they return home.

In addition, the effort involved to get to Croatia illustrates the commitment the audiences have to the festival they’re flying to go to. From research we’ve done into customers of Outlook, over 65% of them have been to the festival on more than one occasion, meaning an increased level of loyalty and therefore more receptive to the brands that the festival has chosen to further compliment their experience at the festival.

Social – reduced burden on experiential

The ascension of social has given festivals (and therefore its sponsors) a year-round platform to speak with this committed following on a daily basis, rather than through sporadic and often un-targeted communications. This has allowed for sponsors to leverage their benefits for prolonged periods of time and puts less pressure on them spending vast amounts on on-site activation. One of the key reasons for UK brands failing to invest in Outlook and Dimensions has been this lack of understanding of the social benefits available and the worry that their on-site activations will be even more expensive and more difficult to carry out than if they worked with a UK-based event.

The Sun – Because no one likes the rain. Apart from ducks.

Majestic Athletic Partner With Outlook Festival 2013 15th July, 2013

Majestic Athletic, the American Sportswear manufacturer, has been announced as the ‘Official Fashion Partner’ of Outlook Festival 2013. The partnership kicked off with the unveiling of the Majestic X Outlook varsity jacket through both parties’ Facebook channels to much acclaim. This has been followed up by the staggered release of Outlook-affiliated music artists modelling the summer varsity, as well as a consumer competition which has seen 1,500 entries, totaling over 200,000 impressions across a two-week period.

Mark Underwood, Managing Director for Majestic Athletic EMEA, said:

We are delighted to be announced as the Official Fashion Partner of Outlook Festival. Both Outlook and ourselves share similar values and audiences and so the relationship is very much a natural one. We have already launched the Outlook X Majestic varsity jacket (which has had a hugely positive response through our social media channels) and have loads more exciting music and fashion campaigns in the pipeline. Watch this space…

As Outlook’s exclusive fashion partner, Majestic have also been granted use of a wide range of Outlook imagery, musical and video content with which to launch its own Facebook Page. This will be further supported by VIP competitions to Majestic consumers with the chance to win Majestic outfits to wear on their VIP all-expenses paid trip out to Croatia.

Jonathan Scratchley, Director of Outlook Festival, commented:

The Majestic partnership is a really exciting one for us. There’s a lot of crossover between the music that we represent and the fashion they create, which allows us to offer another dimension to our audience in their relationship with Outlook. A lot of the artists we work with are wearing the jackets already and there’s a lot of social activity planned in the build-up to the event, as well as a strong Majestic presence over in Croatia itself.

This presence will include a Majestic Athletic merchandise area, where on-site artists will work to produce bespoke designs across jacket sleeves, giving customers a completely unique and personalised souvenir of their time at Outlook 2013.  There will also be a gifting suite within the VIP area next to the Headline Stage to provide some of the festival’s biggest names the chance to sample and take home some of the elite products in Majestic’s Summer range.

Sponsorship: Giving Brands a Story to Tell 9th May, 2013

I recently attended the ESA Summit: a gathering to discuss the state of the sponsorship industry against the backdrop of the ever-changing digital landscape. A number of the Slingshot team made it down to the British Film Institute for the proceedings. An action packed day ensued, full of great keynote speakers and some incredibly insightful panelists, discussing everything from how technology is blurring the traditional sponsorship model, to the future for sponsorship agencies.

While a number of attendees have already summed up the major take-homes from the day (Ben Wells’ blog for example) there was one comment in particular that, to me, illustrated why sponsorship is such a unique marketing tool.  When asked to respond to the nth brand manager’s call to tell the consumer <insert brand name here>’s story, one panelist piped up with ‘no-one cares about your brand story’.

Now while, I must admit, it did get slightly tedious hearing the nth brand manager (from Coca Cola, Virgin Media, Monster, Diageo etc) talk about the importance of storytelling, it struck me just how integral  sponsorship is in  giving brands something to talk about.

The vast majority of products or services that a company offers often blur into the wider competitive market, leaving them indistinguishable and in many cases lacking the essence through which a story can be created. This is where sponsorship comes in.  Sponsorship gives brands the chance to align themselves with a personality, a movement or a cause that they can weave their brand into and construct a narrative that allows their target audience to directly engage with.

In order to illustrate how effective story-telling can be in granting personality to a brand, I’ve outlined three campaigns, which I think do it well.

1.  Bing & Jay Z – The Decoded Campaign

With Jay-Z’s autobiography ‘Decoded’ due to be launched, Microsoft saw an opportunity to increase the relevance of its search engine, Bing, and showcase its new mapping software.

Each of Decoded’s 320 pages were printed and placed in a different position across 13 major cities.  Locations were selected based on the contents of each page – for example, a reference to Jay Z’s youth in Brooklyn could be placed on a Cadillac on Montgomery Street; with other pages being imprinted onto a restaurant plate, a basketball backboard and even on the bottom of a swimming pool!

Utilising multiple online social platforms, clues were released, revealing the location of the secret pages in a draw to compete to be the first to unlock each one of the 320 pages.  Users were driven to Z where they were directed to specific locations, while the first people on the scene texted a code to reveal the page to the whole community.  Within a month of the campaign going live, users had unlocked every single page of the book before it was even available for sale.

Bing received an 11.7% increase of visitors while the campaign was live with an average player engagement of 11 minutes.  Jay Z’s Facebook page received 1 million ‘likes’ in under a month and his autobiography reached 3rd in the New York Times Best Seller list.

All sections of media were used giving the individual a rich and unique understanding of Jay Z’s life, while educating the brand about Bing and its capabilities. If that isn’t a brand telling a story, I don’t know what is.

2. Converse & Patrick Downey – The 5k Run

Converse’s sponsorship of the Patrick Downey 5k Run is a great example of how brand’s can weave themselves into someone else’s story and become part of the overall narrative.

Patrick Downey was the embodiment of the Converse brand. He was an artist who had developed his own unique, personal style — the crown jewel of which was his uniform of dark pants, flannel tops and Chuck Taylors (Converse’s flagship shoe design). He tragically died in 2007 from a rare form esophageal cancer, which prompted his sister (Shannon Downey) to set-up a 5km run to raise awareness for this rare disease.  Runners were encouraged to run in Chuck Taylors, while the race logo (as seen on the left) featured a trainer reminiscent of a Chuck Taylor shoe also.

Converse found out about the race and the affection with which Patrick Downey held their brand,  and decided to sponsor the event. They now provide:

– All of the prize-winning money for the race

– Converse marshalls situated along the route to help runners get to the finish line

– Supply of Chucks to racers and attendees alike

– Additional consultation alongside Shannon to discuss how they can contribute long-term to her important work of educating people about esophageal cancer.

Patrick and Shannon’s initially personal story moved a brand to act. Converse  have now become a part of that story and will continue to help write the remaining pages.

3. P&G and The Olympic – ‘Mums’ Campaign

Undoubtedly my favourite Olympic sponsorship and a great example of how storytelling can give personality to a brand that many people previously have never held any real affection towards.

P&G’s “Thank You Mum” Olympic marketing program harnessed a universal human emotion to create a program that spanned brands, countries and consumer alike. It showcased its commitment to their core audience, mums, through a range of different media formats via a compelling and touching narrative.

One of the central themes to the campaign was a P&G created video series called ‘Raising an Olympian’. It celebrated the role of Olympic mums in supporting their children to reach the pinnacle of their sporting lives.

The individual series generated over 25 million views online, with more than 10 million views on the Yahoo! network alone. To date, the global campaign has generated more than 65 billion impressions from broadcast and print coverage (650% over target), 72.5 million views of P&G videos, an 45% increase in Facebook fans for  P&G brands, and 370 million Twitter engagements.

The mums campaign is the perfect illustration that the consumer does care about your brand story; as long as it’s a story that means something to them.

Are naming rights getting out of hand? 31st January, 2013

Naming rights aren’t a modern introduction to the world of sport, brought in as an additional revenue stream over the past twenty years to help pay the inflated wages of our beloved superstars.  In fact, stadiums named after an associated corporation or sponsor far precede the internationally broadcast versions of basketball, football, rugby and baseball that we know and watch today.

Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, was named after its owner’s realty company all the way back in 1912. Perhaps more commonly known, William Wrigley, founder of the chewing gum company and owner of the Chicago Cubs, aptly named his club’s stadium Wrigley Field in 1926. Since then hundreds of stadiums have followed the naming rights model, from the Veritas Arena in Finland to the De Beers Diamond Oval in South Africa to UK properties as the Etihad and the Reebok Stadium.

Yet despite this illustrious history, a couple of recent stories surrounding potential name changes to Wembley Stadium and Ibrox, two of the most revered institutions in British football, have made me question – have naming rights gone too far?

Naming rights deals are a fantastic marketing medium, but they have to be implemented in the right way, on a suitable property, for them to be perceived as a success.  In my eyes, there are five essential factors for any brand considering a naming rights deal:

1. Longevity: Sponsorship is all about developing and changing perceptions and simply renaming a stadium for four years is not going to make anyone think differently about a brand.

Football grounds are considered ‘home’ for millions of fans worldwide, a feeling developed over years of shared memories with fellow supporters  – as an Arsenal fan it took me a long time to call The Emirates home, but as the stadium has been so-called for so many years the name now rolls of the tongue as naturally as Highbury ever did.

2.  Sponsor integration: For all the criticism they receive, media impressions are obviously still a huge factor in any naming rights deal. However, it is now essential for a brand to develop a relationship with fans both at the ground and online on an emotional level more than before to achieve true value on a naming rights deal. Whether that be through priority on concert tickets (O2), discounted flights for members (Emirates) or even free orange juice (Minute Maid Park), the sponsor is engaging with the potential customers it spent so much money to reach.

3. Emotional attachment to the stadium: One of the reasons Arsenal fans were more inclined to give ‘The Emirates’ a chance was the fact that they were moving to a brand new stadium.  I would have been far more sceptical, and potentially opposed, to any corporate sponsor coming in and renaming Highbury.  As Wonga were well aware, any plans they had of naming Newcastle F.C’s stadium to something suitably daft (Wonga Arena) would have been met with derision from the club’s supporters and they (cleverly) reinstated St James’ Park as the stadium’s official name.

4. The Name: Too long and the fans will simply shorten it (Friend’s Provident St Mary’s to St Mary’s) or too corporate and the fans will revert to a more familiar name (Capital One Field to Byrd Stadium)

5. The Investment: Sports fans (myself included) are by and large fickle creatures.  If they believe that the money invested by sponsors is helping the club pay wages and higher transfer fees, then they are far more likely to accept the brand as part of the club.

Given the five factors listed above, I think any naming rights deal of Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium would be greeted with a resigned acceptance from its fans.  Ibrox obviously has a long and cherished history, but if a well-aligned naming-rights sponsor comes in and invests money that could potentially save the club from further financial strain, then I don’t think there will be too many dissenters.

In contrast, I can’t see a proposed partner (Everything Everywhere) and Wembley fulfilling any more than 3 and 5 of the above and as such can’t see it working particularly well. It is only suggested that it will be Wembley ‘in association with EE’ anyway, which media and fans alike will inevitably shun. Lastly and  in this instance most importantly, Wembley, more than any stadium in the world, evokes memories and emotions of a by-gone era that many people still cherish. As such any potential naming rights partner will face far more opposition to get past than on a regular stadium.

I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions 2012 in Association with Toshiba 3rd December, 2012

Slingshot were back at Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions to witness one of our agency’s favourite events of the year.  We always have a great time over at the St-John-at-Hackney and this year was no different with Gary Barlow, The Maccabees, Ollly Murs, Amy Macdonald (pictured) + many more performing in this truly spectacular venue.

An added dimension for 2012

This year saw Toshiba come on board as Headline Sponsors, in what was their first venture into music sponsorship.  Given it was their first foray into partnering with a music event Toshiba got some great engagement through the platform, utilizing an extensive range of channels to truly leverage their sponsorship of Little Noise.

‘Little Noise Sessions’ app – Creating Excitement

Toshiba’s ‘Little Noise Sessions’ Facebook app held competitions, quizzes and artist bios that got excited fans even more excited during the build up to the week long series of gigs. With the Little Noise Sessions now in its seventh year, the page was full of interesting pieces of information on a range of legendary artists that have performed at the series of acoustic events.

Driving traffic through Pre-Sales & Auctions

In addition to Toshiba’s Facebook app, Toshiba also ran a number of pre-sale ticket promotions to give fans the chance to get their hands on the prized Little Noise tickets, which could be accessed through their Facebook page.  These pre-sales not only drove fans to the fun and interactive content held at ToshibaUK, but meant Toshiba were rewarding the hardcore fanbase that attends Little Noise each year, ensuring higher levels of brand engagement.

Spotify Partnership

In addition to their own activity Toshiba teamed up with one of the other sponsors Slingshot brought on board – Spotify.  Toshiba used Spotify playlists in the build-up to Little Noise to illustrate the calibre of acts that have played in the previous six years, as well as providing more content for their Facebook fans.

On-site Activations

This Spotify partnership supported by an amazing Toshiba ‘section’ full of Toshiba products, some of which held a playlist competition. Users selected a song, with the chance for their song to be played as the opening track for the evening’s entertainment, as well as the chance to win a Toshiba tablet.

There were also promotional staff in the Toshiba section, showing people how to use the latest Toshiba gadgets, along with a photobooth, which gained extensive traffic in between acts.  Check out the photos from all 6 nights here.

Overall, there were 563 photobooth photos uploaded to Facebook, which with an average of 2.5 people in, means 1,400 used the Toshiba Facebook photo booth.  Given that around 9,000 people attend the events, about 20% of those that attended used the Toshiba photobooth over the six nights.  Users got a Polaroid of themselves and were encouraged to go onto the Toshiba Facebook to tag themselves in the uploaded images.

In terms of their digital engagement, Toshiba saw their Facebook following increase from 28,000 – 40,000 in the space of a little over a month.

Charity tie-in

One of the most important aspects from Toshiba’s perspective was the opportunity to get involved in helping out Mencap as a charity.  Not only did Toshiba run a number of fund-raising initiatives during the events (e.g. selling lanyards that contained exclusive Little Noise content), but also got their entire marketing team to volunteer at a local Mencap centre to help a number ofpeople with learning difficulties.

In short, Toshiba’s sponsorship Little Noise allowed extensive engagement through a fantastic music platform, while supporting an extremely important charity.

A huge thank you must go out to everyone at Mencap, Toshiba, Spotify, Jo Whiley and a whole range of other contributors who made the event possible.

The line-up from the six nights:

Monday 19/11/2012 – Gary Barlow, Laura Mvula + Josephine + Nell Bryden

Tuesday 20/11/2012 – Olly Murs, Lawson + Loveable Rogues

Wednesday 21/11/2012 – Richard Hawley, First Aid Kit + King Charles

Friday 23/11/2012 – The Maccabees, Jamie N Commons + Jessie Ware

Saturday 24/11/2012 – Noah and the Whale, Villagers + Lucy Rose + Tom Odell

Sunday 25/11/2012 – Amy Macdonald, Karin Park, Newton Faulkner

Are Brand Ambassadors Really Worth It? 25th October, 2012

This month we’ve witnessed an end to one of the longest running and high-profile brand endorsements of all time –Nike’s sponsorship of Lance Armstrong, the shamed cyclist and denounced Livestrong founder. Inevitably there’s been a flurry of media activity since Nike unceremoniously ditched Armstrong; some quarters questioning Nike’s moral integrity (having stood by Woods, Vick and Bryant in the past); others praising the sportswear giant’s knack of only sticking by those with ‘come-back-ability’; and one journalist even going as far to put the drop in Nike’s share price down to the whole debacle.

My questions is – given the recent controversy surrounding  brand ambassadors like Armstrong and John Terry – are these egotistical mega-stars really worth the investment from a sponsor’s perspective?

The answer, in my opinion, lies with the sponsor’s brand values.  As long as the respective sportsman or sportswoman is representing the brand and its values correctly, then there can be little complaint.  For ease, let’s take Nike, whose principal reason for spending almost $800 million dollars per annum on individual endorsements is to associate the Nike Swoosh with the sporting elite; whose success has been achieved through years of hard work, dedication and natural talent.  Essentially, as long as its ambassadors are excelling in their chosen discipline, be that on the pitch, on the golf-course or on the track, they are promoting the Nike brand how they are supposed to.   Tiger Woods cheated on his wife; Michael Vick held pitbull-fights at his home (!?) and Kobe Bryant has a long list of offences that most would agree are far worse than doping, yet none of these wrongdoings directly impacted on their ability to drive a golf ball 350 yards, run a 50 yard touchdown or score 80+ points per game respectively.  For all of their wrongdoings they still represented Nike’s brand values.

In contrast, Armstrong’s doping completely shattered the illusion that he was this super-human machine whose achievements were entirely down to his dedication and intense training. As Laura Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing consultant says, “Nike is about ‘just doing it’ and that doesn’t mean drugs. It means hard work and ethics. And this flew in the face of it.”  Furthermore, his doping charge removed any thought that the clothing and equipment supplied by Nike had any impact on Armstrong’s competitive edge – we have been left with no false impressions as to what gave Lance his competitive advantage.

Whilst Nike will continue to represent the cream of the sporting elite (Rory McIlroy has reportedly been offered a ten-year £15 million per annum deal to replace Armstrong), it’s likely that certain brands will follow Red Bull in focussing on less famous athletes and increasing spend on activation. The energy drink has been hugely successful over the years in getting great market exposure and engagement through lesser known sportsmen and women – whether that be through taking BMXing to the next level, hosting the world cliff-diving championships or throwing the previously unheard of Felix Baumgartner towards earth from space.  Obviously these types of endorsements tend to suit the more extreme brands, but perhaps the Armstrong incident will encourage sponsors to see if their money might be better spent on endorsing the Felix Baumgartner’s of the sporting world, acting as the bridge for success from grass roots level to the pinnacle of their ambassadors’ careers.

British Heart Foundation Appoints Slingshot Sponsorship For ‘Hands-only CPR’ Road-show 18th October, 2012

British Heart Foundation Appoints Slingshot Sponsorship For ‘Hands-only CPR’ Road-show

Following the first phase of their highly successful Hands-only CPR  campaign, the British Heart Foundation (the BHF) hasappointed Slingshot Sponsorship as their exclusive sponsorship agency.

The campaign, fronted by tough guy actor Vinnie Jones, was designed to raise awareness of the fact that anyone who doesn’thave CPR training should ignore the kiss of life in favour of ‘hard and fast’ compressions in the centre of the chest to help someone who has had a cardiac arrest. The expertly executed advert and training film created resonance through association – using the beat of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees to help people understand how quickly they should carry out chest compressions.

Aggarwal, Head of Corporate Partnerships at the BHF, said:

With the Vinnie Jones advert and training film receiving mass exposure throughout the UK and, in turn, saving dozens of lives, Slingshot Sponsorship has been recruited to build a commercial strategy around the campaign as well as acquire corporate partners to support it.”

The following phases of the charity’s Hands-only CPR initiative will feature a mass media campaign in November followed by an experiential tour bringing the concept to people nationwide and allowing the public to put their CPR knowledge into practice.

Jackie Fast, Managing Director of Slingshot Sponsorship, added:

We are thrilled to be working with the BHF.  It is extremely innovative in its approach and together we will be able to provide the tools to drive this campaign into the hearts of the nation.”

Toshiba Announced as Headline Sponsors for Mencap's Little Noise Sessions 2012 5th October, 2012

Mencap has announced that Toshiba UK will act as headline sponsors for their flagship event Little Noise Sessions, which will be held from November 20-25th 2012.

Set in the stunning surroundings of St-John-at-Hackney Church, in London, Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions provide anunmissable series of intimate and acoustic gigs that will take place over six evenings to raise awareness and money for Mencap’s work supporting people with a learning disability.

Tarek Boudour, Senior Marketing Manager at Toshiba UK, commented:

We are delighted to be sponsoring the Mencap Little Noise Sessions for 2012.  The high calibre of the line-up each year makes it a fantastic marketing platform for Toshiba to showcase a range of new products and build relationships with a highly engaged audience, both at the event and through our social media sites.

Curated by Jo Whiley, the Mencap Little Noise Sessions is renowned for presenting the very best the music industry has to offer; with an eclectic mix of established artists supported by young, up and coming talent.  This year is no different with headline acts The Maccabees, Noah and the Whale and Richard Hawley, ensuring Little Noise will once again be a must-see for all music lovers.

Faith Ingham, Assistant Director of Fundraising, said:

We are delighted to have Toshiba as our headline sponsor for Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions this year. It is a fantastic partnership opportunity which will bring a multitude of benefits for both organisations. We hope that this partnership will enable Mencap to raise vital funds to support people with a learning disability throughout the six nights of unmissable gigs.”

With the chance to see high-profile artists in such an intimate setting the 9,000 tickets available sell out fast.  Be sure to check the Little Noise Sessions website and the Toshiba UK Facebook page for all line-up and ticket information.