Dance music and gaming have united in Fire Festival, a virtual music festival hosted inside the popular video game Minecraft
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In an excerpt from IQ and Yourope's European Festival Report, we explore the ways companies and charities exposed their messages to festivalgoers
By IQ on 09 Feb 2023
Sponsorship is a key revenue stream for festivals, whilst music and arts events are excellent ways for companies and charities to expose their messages to receptive audiences. In an excerpt from IQ and Yourope’s European Festival Report, we profile some of the most innovative partnerships in 2022.
Commercial partnerships are key for most festivals, with many companies eager to benefit from the association with a festival brand and access to its audience. However, it’s important to create an activation that not only aligns with the company’s goals but matches the audience’s expectations without damaging the event’s reputation.
But how do you ensure your partnership brand is met with approval by festivalgoers? How do you know the partner you’re working with won’t be viewed negatively by them? And even if they are receptive to your brand/message, how do you calculate the success of the activation when the measurements of success are not as sophisticated as they could be.
Well, thanks to a new big data collaboration with Aalborg University’s techno-anthropologists (yes, they do exist), Roskilde festival in Denmark might have solved these issues.
Together they have created a new online open-source platform called Culturography, which enables organisations to understand and visualise how their target group – and the broader public – engages in different aspects of societal issues online.
Roskilde’s online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap
The online tool analyses social media posts from fans and the public that show where interests of different groups of people overlap. This use of big data enables festivals to understand whether a brand and its activities are a good fit.
“Every time we engage in a commercial partnership, there are three basic steps that we go through. There’s finding the partnership, signing the partnership, and then monetising it. This method was very helpful for all three,” says Roskilde’s head of partnerships, Andreas Groth Clausen.
“Normally, when I present the idea of a partnership with Roskilde Festival to a company, it’s just me, and I’m hoping that the person I’m talking to is a fan of a particular festival or can see the idea. With this digital database, we can actually tell them what our audience is interested in. We can show them our fans are really engaged with some of their competitors, but they’re not interacting with them. So, the starting point changed significantly when we introduced these visualisations to our partners.”
The tool also helps the festival and the brand design an activation onsite that hits the appropriate demographics, by identifying the key touchpoints certain groups are interested in. This minimises the risk of running an activation that doesn’t chime with festival-goers.
As a non-profit organisation, Roskilde festival is making the software available to everyone. But there’s still some development required – currently the data is interpreted by experts from the university, whilst the goal is to develop the software further so that it removes this requirement.
“Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process
“That’s the last challenge for us – to build a tool that’s just plug-and-play for everybody. As good as it is right now, it’s still a work in progress, but we can make it even better. We are going to do that in the years to come,” says Groth Clausen.
FKP Scorpio: Trasholution
FKP Scorpio festivals Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, and M’era Luna launched a new concept for waste management in summer ‘22. “Trasholution” incentivises people to pick up litter by gamifying the process – and it was used to benefit social causes, too. Every full rubbish bag was counted by the festival and triggered a donation of €1 to social projects in the region of each festival. This was live-tracked and visible for all festivalgoers, further motivating them to hand in their rubbish. As soon as a donation goal was achieved, the German company launched the counter for the next one.
“This is so important because if the festival waste is separated cleanly, its recyclable materials can be sorted out much better and returned to the material cycle,” says FKP Scorpio managing director Stephan Thanscheidt. “So, we’re achieving two good things with one concept: donations for social causes, as well as more sustainability.”
Flow and Polestar
As one of the world’s first carbon-neutral festivals, Finland’s Flow fest is renowned for its environmentally friendly credentials. So, it was especially important for them to work with brands that shared its ethos.
Polestar’s commitment to bring 100% electric premium car products to the world, led them to partner with the Superstruct Entertainment-owned event to bring their brand statements to Flow’s highly eco-conscious fan community.
With a campaign aimed at building brand awareness and affinity in Finland, Polestar gave selected ticket holders exclusive drives to the festival as well as pairing with Tiilikello venue for an exclusive art installation, matching both the festival and brand’s minimalist image.
At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees
Live Nation and Bacardí
With 2022 being the first full year back after the pandemic, Bacardí partnered with Live Nation in the UK to join the celebrations for the return of festivals, signing a multi-year deal to be the official spirit partner across ten events.
A drinks brand could be considered an expected sponsor for a festival, which was exactly what inspired Bacardí to create spectacular spaces full of thoughtful surprises and touches.
The partners created physical spaces that became destinations in their own right at festivals. Each was tailored to the festival audience’s tastes and preferences, such as Casa Bacardí (at Reading, Parklife, and Wireless), a two-story dance destination programmed with world-renowned DJs and premium rum cocktails; or Haçienda Patrón (at Wilderness and Latitude), a Tulum-inspired space.
Bacardí also used its spaces creatively by inviting fans to experience its brands in new ways. At Latitude and Wilderness, professional Bacardí mixologists offered cocktail-making classes for attendees. Bacardí also programmed established and up-and-coming DJs at Casa Bacardí to support its Music Liberates Music initiative, an ongoing programme designed to champion underrepresented voices in the music industry.
The results reached 3m in-person attendees and 10m followers on social media.
Jay Williamson, VP of marketing partnerships for Live Nation UK, said: “The Bacardí team truly understands how live music is one of the rare things that can bring people together, and the opportunity to work with them this summer on creating lifelong memories for fans was an incredible privilege.”
Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species under threat
Wacken Open Air and Krombacher: Growling Creatures
Have you ever heard an endangered animal sing metal? Well, now’s your chance. This year, German festival Wacken Open Air partnered with brewery Krombacher to put together a band made up of rare native species that are under threat: Growling Creatures.
To raise awareness of the plight of these animals, three songs featuring the calls of a variety of animals were released by the ‘group.’ Nest Destroyer included the sounds of the cuckoo and grey shrike over a melodic death metal tune. The brown hare and lynx contributed to metalcore banger Furry Inferno. And the female bison and grey seal joined together for death metal song Small Number Of The Beast.
The songs were released on Spotify and videos were posted on YouTube and social channels, as well as running on stage screens between bands. Band T-shirts were also sold.
All proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) of Germany.
“The audience response as well as the media was very positive,” says festival spokesman Peter Klapproth. “All three songs were professional produced and went down well in the metal scene. The campaign created a reach of over 8m, which made the whole cooperation very successful for all parties involved and most importantly created the awareness for the endangered species.”
The partnership was such a success that plans are already in place to continue it next year.
Emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability
MEO Kalorama and Underdogs
While audiences filled their ears with music from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Arctic Monkeys, and Disclosure, new Portuguese festival MEO Kalorama also filled their eyes with art, thanks to a partnership with Lisbon-based cultural platform Underdogs.
Promoter Last Tour invited the art organisation to undertake three different initiatives that involved several people from the Underdogs’ diverse roster of Portuguese and international artists.
The first part of this collaboration was a large-scale intervention by Portuguese visual artist AkaCorleone called Temple of Sound, which saw the entire main stage decorated with work, as part of his ongoing Temple of Light project.
Elsewhere, an art gallery was built dedicated to displaying over 30 exclusive Underdogs artworks by a diversity of artists, including Felipe Pantone, Okuda San Miguel, Tamara Alves, Vhils, Wasted Rita, and many others.
And sustainability was a key theme for the third intervention – emerging artist Madalena Pequito ran a workshop of festivalgoers that positioned art as a pillar for sustainability. She invited the audience to illustrate the 17 sustainable development goals established by the United Nations.
Jazz in the Park bought six GoPro cameras, which festivalgoers borrowed for 45 minutes at a time to record their experience
Jazz in the Park and Mega Image
Most people who work on festivals never get to experience it as audiences do. But for its 10th anniversary in 2022, Romanian festival Jazz in the Park set about changing that. Thanks to a partnership with supermarket Mega Image, the festival bought six GoPro cameras and set-up a station that saw people borrow a camera for 45 minutes at a time and record their experience. The 180 people shot 96 hours of footage, which was edited into a “People’s Aftermovie,” which was released on social media.
“We were a bit nervous about people’s response[s] to being invited to film,” admits festival founder and manager Alin Vaida. “But the cameras were used almost all the time. People love the opportunity to just fool around and film their family, their preferred concerts, and so on. After the first day, people started asking about where they could get the cameras, and there was a good level of interest in the activation.”
The resulting film is unlike any traditional marketing movie, showing the event in a truly authentic manner, as even some of the ‘less desirable’ elements of the event, (such as the poor weather on the first two days) were included.
Communications manager Sergiu Topan says when the first draft arrived from the editor, he ran into Vaida’s office and shouted “It’s great!”
Vaida adds: “We are a relatively small office, and it’s usually quite noisy. But when the team got the video, there was just seven minutes of total silence. People were trying to be poker-faced about it, but I could see some of them wiping away tears. It was amazing. Watching the film was the first proof in 10 or 11 months or more that we had done something brilliant.”
He says sponsor Mega Image’s response was “really good.” So much so that there are now plans to increase the budget next year so they can buy more GoPros and have more people involved. “The word-of-mouth regarding the brand activation was excellent, too,” he adds.
EXIT’s fortress walls were painted with words of emotional and psychological support
EXIT and mental health
With global events such as the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the war in Ukraine continuing to impact people’s lives, organisers of EXIT Festival in Serbia had a special focus on mental health at the 2022 edition.
The walls of the festival site’s fortress were painted with words of emotional and psychological support, while the messages were also presented on the screens of the big stages.
Many people have encountered anxiety, fear, depression, loneliness, and other related difficulties in the past two years. This is why the festival further strengthened its relationship with Novi Sad-based suicide prevention and mental health support organisation Srce Centre. The festival has worked with the centre for years, and this year the partnership was extended to bring more mental support locations to the fortress, namely at the Foodland, the OPENS State of EXIT zone, and in the EXIT camp.
And it’s not only the audience that could get help. EXIT says it is the only organisation in the music industry with two mental health experts on the team throughout the year. Over the course of the festival, other psychologists and psychotherapists were onsite to support the backstage teams and performers whenever needed.
The Power Hour sees attendees gather at Defqon.1’s main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes
Defqon.1 and Red Bull
One of the key moments during Dutch hardstyle festival Defqon.1 is the Power Hour – which sees attendees gather at the main stage for 60 minutes of DJs mixing high-energy tunes with lightning transitions – it’s an intense moment that sees the audience go crazy.
Festival organiser Q-dance (a brand of Superstruct Entertainment-owned ID&T) partnered with Red Bull to make this year’s Power Hour truly something to remember. Opening with Red Bull athlete Bicho Carrera, it featured an aerial display that included multiple Red Bull assets such as an aerobatic flight and the helicopter from The Flying Bulls.
During the left-to-right moment, which sees the whole crowd dancing from side to side, the Red Bull helicopter joined in, hovering from left to right, too. Additional activation included special Power Hour-branded Red Bull four-packs, which were sold onsite and in the campsites and included an illuminated LED cup.
This moment was captured in video and generated significant reach and viewership over digital platforms on both Red Bull and Defqon.1 channels.
“We had almost 4m (organic) total online reach and counting,” says Q-dance brand partnerships manager Jack van Mourik. “When answering the question ‘How would you rate the Red Bull show moments during Power Hour?’ the average score was an 8.59 out of 10 in our Defqon.1 survey and was experienced as ‘very positive.’”
At Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, a small PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up
Many festivals and PENNY
For many years, German supermarket brand PENNY has supported the German festival scene – most prominently with its sponsorship of Parookaville. But for the return after Covid, it wanted to expand its help. So multifaceted festivals platform Höme used a survey of 37,000 festivalgoers to find out how the 2,150-store company could offer the best support. What they discovered led them to develop a broad range of activations across multiple festivals under a new sub-brand, PENNY.Festivals.
Alongside its activations with Parookaville, which include two big stores, the DJ-Tower with its legendary pre-party on Thursday and up to 20,000 visitors, the brand ran smaller and different modules at 16 festivals.
Among the activations were the PENNY.Festivals Shuttle, which saw festivalgoers at Burning Beach and Happiness Festival able to leave the festival site free of charge, drive to the nearest PENNY branch, and stock up on food and essentials. At other events, such as Ab geht die Lutzi Festival and Rocken am Brocken, the smaller PENNY.Festivals Kiosk was set-up; while elsewhere the PENNY.Festivals Food For Good Foodtruck offered vegetarian and vegan food. A number of festivals had digital partnerships.
And it wasn’t just audiences that benefitted from the support. PENNY also supported November 2022 conference Festival Playground, which brought together 150 different festivals of different sizes and genres.
“With this new concept, PENNY is once again strengthening its position as a reliable partner and supporter of the German festival industry,” says Höme’s Laura Pfeiffer.
“The response from the audience was great. For example, the Kiosk was always almost completely sold out after the first day (even though we ordered more than twice as much from the first to the second time). PENNY saw recognition at a huge variety of events. Our Instagram channel reached 10,000 followers within seven months. Festival attendees, especially from smaller festivals, are always happy to find our services at these events because it’s unusual to find big brands like PENNY there.”
Pfeiffer says this new approach is part of a three-year plan with the brand. “The first year was all about testing. Next year is all about improvements and taking the learnings from the first year to another level. Last but not least, the issue of scalability and the long-term implementation should also not be ignored.”
Read the European Festival Report in full below.
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