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.
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.