With festival season getting underway all over the country, marketers will be aware they have a great opportunity to boost brand awareness this summer. But with so many organisations having the right idea, the challenge lies in making their presence felt in an eye-catching and imaginative yet relevant and targeted way. So how can brands go about this and get genuine results from targeting festival-goers this summer? Tim Walsh, a strategist at RPM, has put forward a number of suggestions…

Enhance the festival experience for music fans

Mr Walsh believes the nature of the typical festival-goer is changing, with many preferring something more luxurious rather than revelling in junk food and mud. Brands could therefore get noticed by deliberately targeting these people and doing something that helps make their festival experience a bit more comfortable. Mr Walsh praised Wrangler for doing precisely that when it offered a laundry service at Lowlands festival, as it washed people’s grubby clothes and kitted them out in a Wrangler branded boiler suit while they waited.

“This is not only a great piece of brand experience, but it also transformed 3,000 festival-goers into walking billboards for the brand across the festival site,” he commented. Other options might include giving out branded ponchos to festival-goers – they’re a genuinely useful item at a typically rainy music festival in Britain – and they’ll get a brand’s name seen by thousands of people.

Don’t lecture customers

Mr Walsh believes a festival is a “release occasion”, which means consumers don’t want to be told what to think and what to do. Instead, he has advised brands to alter their mindset if they want to get noticed for all the right reasons. “Take off your corporate hat and have a bit of fun,” Mr Walsh said.

Get revellers involved

Mr Walsh noted that technology has fuelled a change in the mindset of festival revellers. Whereas they used to be passive onlookers, he believes they are now active participants. This, he said, means brands need to remember that most revellers come from “a generation of content shares and creators”. As a result, they have to give them an opportunity to showcase interesting and entertaining material. “Experiences provide the ultimate currency for your audience to feel part of something unique whilst earning fame and recognition in the process,” Mr Walsh added.

Be creative

Thousands of people at a festival will be receptive to marketing messages, but even a strong campaign can be diluted by the fact it’s up against so much competition. Mr Walsh has therefore urged brands to make sure they stand out and invest in “real groundbreaking activation and creativity that etches into the hearts and souls of your audience”.

Build long-term relationship with revellers

Brands that target festival-goers often run the risk of disappearing out of a person’s life after they have gone home. So it pays to make a festival-based campaign part of a wider effort to build a long-term connection with these people. This should start before the festival begins and continue long after it’s over. “Effective pre comms, will ensure effective on-site activation, which will then enhance advocacy post event – seamless and simple,” Mr Walsh said.

“The landscape has altered over the years, ‘showing up’ is no longer enough,” he continued. “Brands will only cut through by offering real, relevant and purposeful messages, which if done well will carry their brand purpose into the hearts and minds of consumers and across every channel imaginable.”

Five ways brands can get ahead at festivals, Marketing Magazine

Posted by Robin McCrink