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Three Questions for Brands to Consider When Delivering a Music Event

Three Questions for Brands to Consider When Delivering a Music Event

Brand activations at music events can prove an effective way to engage young audiences, however such activity needs to serve a purpose

Written by Simon Boniface

There are many brands that look to music events to create meaningful connections with young consumers. As the summer progresses, we can expect to see countless brand activations that attempt to win the hearts and minds of this connected and agile consumer group.

The decision to pursue music-related platforms can be a perilous one, and brands’ marketing and/or event teams need to do some serious soul searching to determine whether this route is indeed aligned to their organisation's objectives.

It is important for brands to consider the following three fundamental questions: 

1. Are we being true to our brand?

Simply stating: "we’re into the music that you’re into" can come across as about as credible as a dad at a Dubstep party. A brand needs to consider what allows it to play in the world of music. Why does it have permission to engage with consumers in this way, and which part of its DNA is linked to music?

The relationship between music and shoe manufacturer Dr. Martens is so strong that the brand is almost synonymous with the art form. On the surface the company creates shoes. Over the years, however, it’s become the go-to footwear of choice for the tribal counter-cultures of Europe and beyond—a position the brand has taken great care of in its promotion of underground music pared with a consistent anti-status quo message.

Docs just aren’t the same unless they’ve been stamped on in mosh pits or comforted weary travellers on the slow train home after a muddy music festival.  

2. Are we being useful?

I don’t know of anyone who has ever said, “I am going to a gig and I really hope there will be some brands there.” If a brand is going to pop up at an event, it needs to make itself useful by providing attendees with what they want and need.

A captured memory, an enriched experience, mobile phone charging facilities—even something as simple as a comfortable spot to sit down. Whatever a brand chooses to do at a music event, it needs to remember that the music will always come first. Consumers don’t spend their hard earned money on music events in order to see brands, but at the same time no ticketholder has ever expressed their frustration at a brand for entertaining them at such events.

3. Is this the right territory?

Music isn’t simply music—there are a million shades of grey (and genres) when it comes to what we all like to listen to. The road to brands’ success at music events is not an easy one. No mass consumer brand has a music department, carefully considering partners that can add an immeasurable amount of credibility to a venture. The key is knowing your audience and finding the right fit. 

FreemanXP in EMEA worked with Vodafone UK to raise the profile of its Future Breakers platform during Capital’s Summertime Ball at Wembley earlier this month, and this was done so with a very specific audience in mind—young pop music fans. Future Breakers is an initiative by Vodafone UK in which the brand has embarked on a search for the best unsigned talent in the UK. Successful applicants are rewarded with the opportunity to record and produce their own studio session, which is filmed and published on the Vodafone Big Top 40 website. 

This particular sub-group seeks out fun, vibrant experiences. Many aspire to be stars themselves one day. Vodafone UK subsequently provided a platform that allowed ticketholders, many of whom had not attended a music event before, to own the party before the party, which in turn added an extra dimension to the event experience.

Meanwhile, the music industry itself has gone through seismic change, and in many instances artists recognise that tie-ins with consumer brands can prove a great way to extend their reach and finance events through sponsorship. Ministry of Sound, once a mecca for the hardcore clubbers of South London, has seen its own brand diversify through a series of partnerships, and struggling music venues are experiencing a renewed vigour thanks to the help of some big name sponsors. 

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