Maximizing Your Brand’s Return at Music Festivals
Maximizing Your Brand's Return at Music Festivals

Growth of Music

Music festivals have grown to become one of the epicenters of pop culture today.  From Coachella to Lollapalooza to Austin City Limits and many more, music festivals are a vital brand awareness play for some of the top brands in the world; with sponsorship spending topping 1.5 billion dollars in 2017, according to a report by IEG.  To understand the massive market that encompasses music festivals, we must go back to Woodstock in 1969, widely considered the first modern music festival with over 400,000 people in attendance.  Following Woodstock, companies that wanted to engage music fans in a live setting relied on individual concert tours by a particular act which delivered the same audience over and over but conversely lasted months and cost a lot  to activate.  Fast forward to today, festivals have grown into a mainstream business as more than 32 million people attend them each year (according to Billboard), and providing brands with a measure of flexibility.  Due to this immense growth, brands are jumping at the opportunity to be a part of the hype.


Finding the Right Fit

With the thousands of festivals each year around the world, how do brands know which festival is right for them?  First, they must identify their target audience.  If companies approach all festivals with the same marketing tactics, they are setting themselves up for failure.  Each festival attracts a different crowd, so it is critical that brands understand the location, demographics, age and household income of the attendees.  This information will help determine if the sponsorship is likely to drive brandawareness (and potentially sales) among the right audience.  Next comes the important part; negotiating the assets that make the most sense for the company, as what is important to a beer company likely won’t be the same for a consumer electronics company.  After the deal has been signed, brands should turn their attention to developing a compelling activation that will accomplish their objectives.


The Sought after Audience

It is no secret that companies are fighting to be the brand that millennials are talking about in a positive light (word of mouth SO important with this audience) and more importantly, spending their dollars with.  What better way to target this audience than at music festivals; one of the biggest passion points for this age group.  Millennials spend about $600 billion a year, making them the largest single consumer group out there.  According to business insider, 53% of millennials attended at least one festival in the past 12 months, and of those who attended, 28% spent at least $500.  At any given festival, brands can be found attempting to establish a strong relationship with consumers through on-site activation.  If done right, this is a great way for companies to show they are relevant and understand the interests of the audience. In a study done by AEG and Momentum Worldwide, 93% of festival goers surveyed said they liked the companies that sponsored such events and 80% said they were more likely to purchase and use a product after having had that music experience.


Adding Value to the Experience

Most music festivals are packed with crowds of people waiting to see their favorite bands and musicians.  The question is; how can brands break through the clutter of brand messages and attract the eyes of consumers?  The answer used to be easy; slap a logo all over the stage and place some additional signage throughout the festival grounds.  Though still used, this tactic does not resonate the same way as it once did.  Brands need to be creative and focus on building an authentic relationship with consumers so that they can stand out.  Staying up to date with pop culture trends and understanding the audiences’ desires is key in creating an experience that consumers will take the time to interact with while performances are taking place.  Remember, they are there for the music!
Heineken and HP are a few of the companies that have recently been successful in their attempt to connect with and draw in consumers through their activations.  At Coachella, the Heineken House offered a bar and exclusive artist performances including a sustainable dance floor, which converted the power of consumers dancing to power the LED lights on the floor.  Most importantly, Heineken gifted consumer’s free cups of water when they visited the water bar in Heineken House.  This is a perfect example of adding value to the consumer experience and being able to cut through the clutter.
On the digital front, HP immersed consumers in creativity in the Lab and the HP Lounge at the Panorama Music Festival.  The Lab experience featured nine artists leveraging HP products to display a series of interactive installations, while the HP Lounge had activations ranging from a bandana inking station to a kinetic art experience. This is another example of a brand understanding that this demographic is digitally savvy and engaging in this fashion will maximize their return.


Amplify Your Presence

In order to attract attention on festival grounds, brands must stand out and the below highlights three ways to do so:
Give consumers something they desire at no cost.  According to Nielson, 49% of festivalgoers would view a company more favorably if it offered a free giveaway at a music event.  In the same study it states 47% of the respondents would see a company more favorably if they gave out something useful. This tells us something … consumers love free, but useful stuff!
Provide a “sharable” moment through the use of a unique photo or video op.  Social media has had a huge impact in driving awareness and purchase consideration for brands.  By providing consumers with a fun experience that is easily sharable to social channels, it’s bound to be a hit.  Not only does it encourage people on festival grounds to visit the space, but creates a sense of FOMO for those following along from home.
Utilize influencers to amplify the activation.  This is one of the tried and true formulas to attracting consumers to the space while encouraging those at home to explore the brand.  According to Social Media Today, marketers generally see an 11x return on investment from the impact of influencer marketing on consumers compared to other types of traditional marketing.
A thoughtful and engaging activation with the enhancements above is bound to stand out from the competition and reap positive results.



Advantage currently supports various brands on the development of sponsorship strategies as well as negotiating deals and performing valuations across sports, music and entertainment properties.  If you need help with a music sponsorship or activation, we would love to hear from you.