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Sponsor refuses to pay ‘super-spreader’ festival

Cider company Magners is facing legal action for allegedly refusing to pay more than £1.7 million in owed sponsorship money after a partner festival became a Covid-19 ‘super-spreader’ event.

Magners, owned by Dublin-based C&C Group, claims that the decision by Cheltenham Festival to push ahead in 2020 caused the four-day festival serious reputational damage and as such should have been cancelled.

The popular horse-racing event took place with over 250,000 visitors from 10 to 13 March 2020, ten days before the first UK lockdown on 23 March. It also featured a new live music-focused enclosure, The Park, featuring DJ sets from Nick Grimshaw, Laura Whitmore, Roman Kemp and more.

According to the Telegraph, Cheltenham Festival 2020 was “widely seen as a Covid superspreader event”, though organisers and the Department of Health and Social Care confirm the event was operating within the public health guidance at the time. (Just over a week earlier, on 1 March, the UK’s deputy chief medical officer had told event organisers there was no need to stop major events to halt the spread of the coronavirus.)

C&C claims the decision to push ahead in 2020 caused the festival serious reputational damage

Magners had agreed to sponsor the festival, as well as other meetings at Cheltenham Racecourse, from 2018 to 2022 in a deal worth just over £1.7 million. However, in documents filed with the High Court in London, C&C claims that the 2020 Cheltenham Festival should have been cancelled, and revealed that it also did not want the Magners name associated with the 2021 event, which was held behind closed doors.

The Jockey Club, owner of the racecourse, is now suing C&C for damages of £1,733,761.51, arguing that it has violated the terms of the sponsorship agreement, which remains in force.

A racing industry source tells the Telegraph it is confident the Jockey Club will win the ensuing legal battle, saying: “Magners appear to be trying to throw mud at the Cheltenham Festival because they know their own defence is weak. The Jockey Club appear to be confident of their case, that the sponsorship contract agreed with [Magners] stands, is valid and must be honoured.”

C&C declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings.

 


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Virtual Tomorrowland gets “world’s fastest flyer”

Tomorrowland will advertise its upcoming virtual event, Tomorrowland Around the World, with the “world’s fastest flyer” – an ad on the side of a Formula 1 car – at this weekend’s Austrian grand prix.

Marking the first time a music festival has appeared on an F1 car, the Tomorrowland Around the World logo will appear on the McLaren MCL35M driven by Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo as part of a partnership with McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco (BAT), which will hand over its spot on the car for the race on 4 July.

While Tomorrowland, the world’s biggest dance music festival, has been forced to cancel its flagship physical event in Boom, Belgium, there will be a Tomorrowland festival this year in the form of the second edition of Tomorrowland: Around the World, a virtual festival with Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Charlotte de Witte and other international DJs taking place place on 16 and 17 July. Over 1m people bought tickets for last year’s Around the World event.

 

The partnership with BAT will use the “global audiences of the grand prix to drive visibility to the digital festival” for both new and existing Tomorrowland fans, says BAT.

John Beasley, group head of brand building for BAT, comments: “McLaren is more than a partner in motorsport; we share a love of music and innovation, and this provides a never-before-seen opportunity to make a statement for our music-loving fans of motor racing and provid[e] much-needed support for the live music industry.

“We always want to help our partners and give back to the fans, and while Tomorrowland may not happen in person in 2021, together we have created the world’s fastest flyer for the greatest digital music festival.”

Tickets for Tomorrowland Around the World, which takes place in a virtual world on the “magical island” of Pāpiliōnem, are priced from €20.

 


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AEG Global Partnerships makes senior hire in France

AEG Europe Global Partnerships has appointed Stéphan Degos as its new senior director of sponsorship sales, replacing the departing Emmanuel de Sola.

In his new role, Degos will oversee sponsorship and partnerships for for the 20,300-capacity Accor Arena in Paris.

He joins AEG from Pollen (the company formerly known as Verve, and before that as StreetTeam), having spent more than 20 years in live entertainment marketing, including seven years as head of brand marketing partnerships at Live Nation.

“I’m really looking forward to maximising the opportunities in the French region”

Paul Samuels, executive vice-president of AEG Europe Global Partnerships, comments: “We are looking forward to Stéphan joining our team and driving the strategic ambitions we have in France. As we reflect on our current successes in the region, we would like to thank Emmanuel de Sola for his contribution and wish him well with his new personal projects.”

“I am delighted to be joining AEG at this pivotal time,” adds Degos. “They are world leaders in entertainment and have a reputation for delivering exceptional deals for world-class brands. I’m really looking forward to maximising the opportunities in the French region and delivering against AEG’s strategic aims.”

 


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Manchester Arena renamed the AO Arena

Manchester Arena (cap. 21,000) has been renamed the AO Arena, after announcing a five-year sponsorship deal with the Bolton-based online electricals retailer.

The announcement comes as operators ASM Global submit a planning application for the arena’s redevelopment which will aim to improve visitor experience, transport access and sustainability.

James Allen, general manager of the AO Arena commented on the news: “We are thrilled to have secured this partnership and we look forward to a dynamic relationship with this exciting brand.

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue”

“Marking our 25th anniversary with redevelopment plans and our new partnership with AO highlights our commitment to the future of this venue in the heart of Manchester. And after such a long period of pause, we look forward to being able to press play and welcome fans back to the AO Arena.”

AO founder and CEO, John Roberts commented on the announcement; “The Arena holds a special place in the hearts of so many people in Manchester so we’re hugely proud to add the AO smile, especially after such an emotional and difficult period. Our home is firmly in the North West, something we’ve never forgotten while building the business into a global destination for electricals.”

The newly rebranded arena was revealed yesterday (2 September), marking the arena’s first naming rights sponsor since 2014.

 


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Baloise Session secured until 2025

The future of Swiss festival the Baloise Session is looking bright, as insurance group Basler Versicherungen extends its current presenting contract for another five years.

The deal means the event, which takes place each autumn at Basel’s club-like Event Halle, is secured for the years up to and including 2025.

The sold-out 2018 edition of Baloise Session saw performances from George Ezra, Buddy Guy, Lauryn Hill and John Legend.

“The Baloise Session is unique and brings fresh delights year after year,” says Basler Versicherungen chief executive Michael Müller. “We are proud to be presenting sponsor for the seventh time and to contribute to musical diversity in Switzerland through our engagement.”

“We are grateful that Basler Versicherungen, with whom we share a history that goes back more than 20 years, recognises the power and emotionality of music,” comments Beatrice Stirnimann, chief executive of the Baloise Session.

“The Baloise Session is unique and brings fresh delights year after year”

Stirnimann calls the partnership “a valuable commitment” that gives the Baloise Sessions team “the freedom to add further melodious chapters to the 34-year history of the festival and deliver unforgettable concert experiences to visitors.”

Stephan Werthmüller, chairman of the board of Session Basel, adds that the sponsorship renewal is “a testament to a solid partnership based on mutual trust and appreciation.

According to the chairman, “such a long-standing collaboration is extraordinarily important in the field of culture.”

The 2019 edition of Baloise Sessions takes place from 12 to 31 October. The line-up for this year’s event will be announced on Wednesday (21 August), with ticket sales beginning on Wednesday 28 August.

 


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Dubai offers promoters sponsorship support with new scheme

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has announced a sponsorship scheme for promoters in a bid to grow the emirate’s live events sector.

The new Leisure Events Sponsorship Scheme aims to “empower leisure event organisers with additional incentivisation opportunities in the form of event sponsorship”, according to a statement from Dubai Tourism. All organisers of ticketed events that are open to the public are eligible for assistance.

The programme aims to boost the already growing local live entertainment market, which recorded a year-on-year increase of more than 100,000 ticket sales and 25 additional events in first quarter of 2019.

The launch of the scheme precedes the opening this summer of AEG’s new Coca-Cola (formerly Dubai) Arena, whose 17,000 seats will make it the largest indoor entertainment venue in the region.

Local promoter 117 Live also operates a 25,000-capacity outdoor arena, 117 Live Arena (formerly Autism Rocks Arena), at Dubai Outlet Mall, which opened in 2016.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism, says: “The sponsorship scheme forms part of our commitment to retain the city’s status as a leading global event destination and has been designed to build on this momentum and act as a catalyst for the local events industry.

“The sponsorship scheme forms part of our commitment to retain the city’s status as a leading global event destination”

“This has been further fuelled by our cross-industry public and private sector partnerships, which serve as a crucial component in helping us identify and pursue opportunities to further empower local event organisers as we set the stage to welcome audiences from around the world.”

The sponsorship scheme will take effect for events held from 1 May 2019.

James Craven, president of Live Nation Middle East, welcomes the launch of the programme. “We are experiencing an exciting time of growth in Dubai’s events industry as Dubai continues to showcase its strength as a world-class leisure destination,” he comments. “This not only fuels our ongoing commitment to deliver the best family experiences in the region but also opens up new opportunities to continue strengthening our relationship with the wider sector.

“We have enjoyed great success with events from Dave Chappelle and George Ezra to the recent Wasla alternative Arabic music festival. The Dubai Tourism Leisure Events Sponsorship Scheme initiative marks a significant milestone in the government’s support in nurturing the city’s thriving events industry, underscoring Dubai’s place on the international live entertainment map.”

Interested concert promoters and other events organisers can apply for sponsorship on the Visit Dubai website.

 


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O2, AEG win big at UK Sponsorship Awards

O2 won the silver award for the best sponsorship of the last 25 years for its partnership with AEG at the UK Sponsorship Awards last night, with AEG taking away a total of three awards at the ceremony at the London Marriott Hotel.

The UK Sponsorship Awards reward effectiveness across all sectors of the sponsorship, partnership and brand activation industries with campaigns judged by a panel of experts in each field.

Sponsored by CSM Live, the silver award follows a public vote on ten shortlisted partnerships, with the top five campaigns making the final shortlist which included British Airways’ sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics and Carling’s partnership with the English Premier League.

The awards committee described the O2-AEG partnership as “more than a sponsorship”, saying the deal had made O2 “an indelible part of the London landscape”.

O2 and AEG agreed a deal to turn the Millennium Dome into the O2 in 2005. An early example of the modern naming rights deal, the partnership has been renewed ever since the venue opened in 2007, most recently in 2017.

“As part of the team who negotiated the original deal in 2005 when working for O2, this is one of the biggest highlights in my career so far”

“As part of the team who negotiated the original deal in 2005 when working for O2, this is one of the biggest highlights in my career so far,” says Paul Samuels, executive vice president of AEG Global Partnerships.

“This partnership is so much more than just a naming rights deal. It’s a successful collaboration of likeminded brands with a shared vision for delivering the best in customer experience and benefits,” states Samuels.

Samuels was also named 2019 sponsorship champion for entertainment at the awards ceremony, principally for his work on the O2 naming rights partnership, which “will be his legacy, both at AEG and O2.”

AEG Presents also won the live entertainment and event sponsorship award for Barclaycard presents British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park, which enables the sponsor “to engage with audiences, through a journey of awareness, purchasing and on-site experiences.”

“This trio of wins is testament to the strength of AEG’s global partnerships team,” comments Samuels. “I am of course delighted to be named as a Sponsorship Champion, but that doesn’t happen without the backing and support of an immensely talented team that I am proud and honoured to work with.”

“This trio of wins is testament to the strength of AEG’s global partnerships team”

AEG Presents also reached the shortlist in the brand sponsorship category for its BST Hyde Park Barclaycard partnership and for the first time sponsor award, for its partnership with All Out Beauty at All Points East.

AEG rival Live Nation took home the special award for the best rights holder, for its “unique ability to leverage the power of live music for brand owners.”

Live Nation was also shortlisted in the live entertainment and event sponsorship award and best use of social media and online platforms categories for its festivals partnership with Co-op, which became the first UK retailer to have a supermarket at four UK festivals.

Other music industry shortlisters included Boardmasters festival for its Voxi Beach Cleans campaign (best use of sponsorship to encourage sustainability, effective use of a smaller budget) and Global and Smirnoff’s Equalising Music campaign (best sponsorship of women’s activities). Victorious Festival received special commendation in the live entertainment and event sponsorship category for its “simple, low cost sponsorship” by comedy TV channel Dave, the official commentator of the Portsmouth-based music festival.

A full list of winners can be found here.

 


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Live Nation acquires Neste Event Marketing

Live Nation has acquired a majority stake in Tennessee-based event marketing company Neste.

The two companies plan to pool their resources to create Neste Live!, a new talent buying and event production venture for festivals, fairs and corporate clients.

“By creating Neste! Live, we’ll help even more events and clients tap into the magic of live entertainment,” says Bob Roux, president of Live Nation’s US Concerts division. “Gil [Cunningham, president] and the team at Neste are amazing at what they do and make the perfect partners for this new endeavour.”

“We are looking forward to seeing the way Neste Live! unfolds and changes the talent buying process”

Cunningham adds: “We are excited to join Bob and the entire Live Nation team as we embark on this new journey together. We are looking forward to seeing the way Neste Live! unfolds and changes the talent buying process for clients of all kinds.”

Neste Event Marketing was established in 1995 as a corporate sponsorship and event marketing agency for the festival market, later expanding into talent buying and event production. The company has since provided its services to more than 500 events.

Neste is Live Nation’s fourth acquisition of 2019, and its first in the US, following Singapore’s One Production in January and Canada’s Embrace Presents and Spain’s Planet Events earlier this month.

 


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Amy Marks joins Live Nation Media & Sponsorship

Live Nation has hired experienced marketing executive Amy Marks as executive vice-president, head of integrated marketing, for its Media & Sponsorship division.

In the newly created role, Marks (pictured) will be based in New York and lead a department that provides research, analytics, strategy, creative, experiential events and industry marketing “for advertisers looking to redefine the relationship with audiences and music”. She reports to the global president of Live Nation Media & Sponsorship, Russell Wallach.

Marks joins Live Nation from Bloomberg Media, where she was global head of marketing. She was previously head of integrated marketing for People magazine for 15 years.

“There is endless opportunity at Live Nation to connect brands in a meaningful way with influential, receptive audiences”

“Amy’s unparallelled experience partnering with brands and CMOs to creatively solve business challenges, combined with her innate ability to build teams and innovative ways to develop best-in-class content and unforgettable experiences, is the type of leader that will take us to the next level,” says Wallach.

Marks adds: “I’m thrilled to join such an incredible and growing organisation filled with amazing talent. There is endless opportunity at Live Nation to connect brands in a meaningful way with influential, receptive audiences and demonstrate how online and offline solutions can grow business for mature and emerging brands, regardless of the category.”

Live Nation Media & Sponsorship division is an increasingly important revenue stream for the company, having delivered seven consecutive years of double-digit growth. Recent new clients include American Eagle, Asics, Dollar Car Rental, General Mills and Rémy Martin.

 


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Hull Venue becomes Bonus Arena in new sponsor deal

Hull Venue has secured a sponsorship deal with local business group Bonus, and will now be known as the Bonus Arena. It is hoped that this new deal will help to secure a lasting legacy for the city, after it was named UK City of Culture in 2017.

With a 3,500 person capacity, the state-of-the-art events complex hopes to attract exhibitions, large-scale conferences as well as concerts, stand-up and sporting events. Already, the venue has announced upcoming gigs from George Ezra, Jack White and Madness as well as events from the Strictly Come Dancing professionals and the Harlem Globe Trotters.

New sponsors Bonus Group are a well-established part of the Hull business community. For almost 60 years, the group has been involved in the local area, with many of those years spent in offices just a stone’s throw away from the new arena. On the new deal, Shaun Boanus, CEO of Bonus Group, says: “Having been involved with so many things ‘Hull’ over the years it seemed an obvious partnership from both sides.

“The arena is a huge legacy for the city and will do fantastic things for tourism”

“To be involved from day one is a great honour. It will undoubtedly be a huge success for the city and the people of Hull.”

Bonus Arena is managed by SMG Europe. John Sharkey, executive vice president of European operations at SMG Europe, echoes the optimism shared by those at Bonus Group. He says: “Following an incredible year with City of Culture, we are delighted to be operating the Bonus Arena in Hull.

“The arena is a huge legacy for the city and will do fantastic things for tourism, catapulting Hull on to the UK map in a big way as a destination experience.”

Open days and test event will take place in the next month, with the venue opening officially for business later in the summer. Tickets for performances at the venue are on sale now.

 


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