Our golden rules for being the best at fests
Summer means festival season! From niche local affairs to international events, summer festivals have a broad appeal. In the UK alone, the festival audience is 14 million, or 23% of the population - that's quite an audience!
The opportunities for brands to tap into the festival spirit are vast and varied, but it can be difficult to get it right. Here are our top tips for smashing that festival promotion and giving an awesome experience that consumers are always going to love.
1. DON’T set your sights on Glastonbury
The iconic music festival, which was first held in 1970, is a definite no-go area for brands. Unless you’re a headline sponsor, there is no way of getting tickets for promotional purposes.
Due to the strict ticketing rules, with registration and passport photos required to avoid touts snapping up tickets for the fastest event of the year, winners have been barred entry before when tickets are discovered to have come from promotions. Forget it and move on. There are plenty more fish in the sea!
2. DO your research to find the best fit
Whether it’s tickets to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, Corona SunSets in Weston Super-Mare, Coachella in California, or even a surprise festival, check each one out carefully before aligning your brand to it.
For brands which have strong family values, for example, events such as the Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons in August is an ideal fit, with its dedicated areas for kids and teenagers. Or check out July’s Curious Arts Festival in the New Forest, which includes bat walks and puppet making alongside headline artists.
3. DON’T leave it until the last minute
Planning in advance is essential as festival tickets are often released months in advance - sometimes just a month or two after the previous year's festival. And they can sell out fast.
For the bigger festivals, tickets can sell out in days, or even hours. It makes sense to work with a specialist to buy them in advance. While it is possible to get tickets for the bigger festivals closer to the event, you may have to pay a premium to get them via resellers.
Planning ahead also means more choice. The more organised a brand is, the more choice of tickets they have – for example, day tickets, weekend tickets, tickets with camping, or tickets for the day with the most popular acts. Brands who think ahead can pick and choose.
4. DO create a package that goes beyond tickets
Think about what else you can include in the prize – travel to the venue for example, or accommodation and spending money. Our advice is to put together a comprehensive package to ensure winners have an optimal experience. It's a false economy to just offer tickets – winners can end up without accommodation or struggling with transport, which ultimately detracts from the experience and reflects poorly on the brand.
5. DON’T limit yourself to the summer
Festivals run all year, and there are lots of high profile events around the world, particularly in the US. For example, South by South West in Austin, Texas, which is held in March; Coachella, in California, which takes place in April; and Bumbershoot, held in Washington every September.
Brands can capitalise on festival fever in the UK by launching the promotion in the summer months, but winners’ tickets can give them entry to a festival later in the year, or even the following year.
6. DON’T despair if you lack the budget for a festival package, or are unable to get tickets
There are still opportunities to jump on the festival bandwagon. For example, winners can win essential festival kit. This can range from small prizes such as aspirin, torches and hand sanitiser, to top of the range kits which include luxurious camping gear and pairs of Hunter wellies.
Brands can even work with specialists to throw their own branded festival. From a low-budget local affair with a band and an ice cream van in a winner’s garden, to a larger event with several bands and a range of food and drink stands, there are options to suit each budget.Think outside the box!
7. DO ensure that winners are eligible
Festivals are date-specific, so ensure that any winners are available on the relevant dates. If the festival is abroad, brands also need to ensure that winners fulfil a host of criteria – including valid passports and the necessary travel insurance. For many events, consumers have to be aged 18 or over too. Be vigilant to make sure that the lucky winners don’t miss out.
8. DO consider offering a choice
Festivals are often skewed towards slightly different audiences, a hardcore lover of heavy music might love the Reading Festival for example, while a hip young family would be more at home at Latitude. Offering winners a choice of events can ensure they win an experience that really turns them on.
We recently worked on a promotion with a beauty brand offering winners a choice of prizes, from a pair of festival tickets to a Ticketmaster voucher. Sometimes consumers like to choose.
9. DO think beyond the big events
Festivals take place in the UK from spring to autumn, and there are many boutique events that have a more niche or unusual appeal. These might well resonate more strongly with some brands than a more mainstream event.
Take the Spring Rides Cycling Festival in Abingdon, Oxfordshire each April. As well as encouraging people to get on their bikes and ride, the event hosts live music, barbecues and bike shop displays. Perfect for a bike brand on a budget…
10. DON’T try to be something you’re not
Some brands make the mistake of trying to pass their brand off as an official partner or sponsor to a major festival when they’re not. This can land a company in hot water. Play on the music or festival theme in your promotion, by all means, and tap into the overall vibe, but be sure to keep it generic.