• Categories

  • Arts & entertainment

    How to make the best use of festival funding

    In a previous post, our friends at Splatter highlighted the benefits of brands involved with music festivals. Here they share some advice on how to make the best use of festival funding.

    festcrowd

    As Splatter mentioned in their previous post on Sounds Like Branding, brands can gain pretty much from being part of a music festival, e.g. engagement, storytelling, sampling opportunities and so forth. It is however up to the brands and their agencies to make the best use of a sponsorship and turn the fans into customers (or customers into fans, as we say at Heartbeats).

    The obvious question for a brand wanting to leverage off the passion created by music is: How do they pick through the options and ensure marketing spend is effectively used?

    According to Splatter, you should:

    1. Ensure that involvement in a music festival or music festivals is a part of a broader music based strategy. The consumers will smell the lack of authenticity if your presence at a music festival (for cool cred) isn’t backed up by relationships with artists, fans, online leverage, great use of music in retail A-T-L that incorporate music in some creative way.

    2. Work with a specialist that understands the market place and actually knows everything about the festivals, the music, the fans and the brands. There is a huge difference between the quality of festivals on offer, and you will save time and money by speaking to people that already know.

    3. Work with only established events (or at least credible and authentic ones, according to Heartbeats). If a promoter comes to you with a grand idea to run a festival, but they have no history of doing credible events, then be very cautious.

    4. Ensure that you have a plan for your participation involving detailed pre, onsite and post event creative, planning and execution. Leverage every step of the way. Get as much access to artists as possible, ensure you can use the festival in your own brand stories, get involved in the pre-event marketing campaign. Do some marketing of your own. Create content during the festival and spread it afterwards. Look for multi-year relationships, so you can build your brand alongside the festival as it grows.

    5. Get creative. If you think that slapping some logos around the festival grounds and having hot girrrrrlls in short skirts handing out samplers is all you have to do once you are at the festival, then think again. Creative and useful experiences allied to pre-event participation and continuous conversations can turn festival sponsorship into something truly valuable.

    6. Ensure you have pre-agreed metrics so you can measure your investment ROI.

    So, which festival would fit your brand you think?

    brand-band

    Print

    The New Game in Town in China: Music Festivals

    In this post, our friends at Splatter have taken a look at 2010’s hottest phenomena in China, the Music Festival. Below they touch upon what brands can gain from this phenomena. These benefits aren’t exclusive for the Chinese market though, but apply to many other markets.

    Until relatively recently, China’s music festivalers were restricted to one option only, Heavy-metal heavy Midi which has been held in Beijing since 1999 and stood alone as the only regular event in China until, in 2007, two new players strode purposefully into town. Aiming at a more attractive (to marketeers at least) “indie hipster” crowd, Modern Sky Records in Beijing launched their eponymously titled 4 dayer, and Splatter’s sister company Split Works launched the Yue Festival in Shanghai, backed by Bacardi and Converse. Since 2007, Music Festivals have erupted in every corner of China, with (rough estimation) around 60 in 2010 and there is more to come…

    festival-china1

    Festivals are however an expensive game - creating a temporary village for 1-4 days, paying local and national government licenses and then of course artists fees, both international and domestic (domestic artist demands have tripled in the last couple of years due to the increased popularity and demand) - puts festival investments into the millions of RMB (1 RMB is approximately 0,15 USD). On the other hand, you look at the ticket prices of the average festival (60RMB/day) and the average attendances (2,000 – 8,000 – be wary of anyone who claims more, Splatter attend them all), it becomes clear there is a large financial disparity occurring.

    How do the organisers make up this shortfall? In China, there are four ways currently:

    • A local government offers to underwrite the festival (Suzhou Holisland, Zhangbei Inmusic, Zhenjiang Midi Festival) as a way of promoting the town/ district
    • Sponsorship fees (Modern Sky, YUE, Nokia’s Strawberry in Xi’an)
    • Real Estate developers offer to host a music festival on their land to attract people to the area and then to hopefully sell them expensive property (Tianjin Dreamvalley, Great Wall Tanglewood)
    • Promoter funds the festival personally (at Niu Yu Hui near Guangzhou, the farmer whose land hosted the festival, sold his car and laptop in order to pay the bands due to poor ticket sales)

    More often than not, festivals are funded by a combination of the elements above (e.g. Zebra Festival, a festival in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is a joint venture between Zebra Media and the Chengdu Government/Chengdu Media Group and Suzhou’s Holisland was actualy underwritten by local government to draw attention to a new real estate development).

    Because of the need for funding, brands and agencies in China are being approached by most, if not all of these festivals throughout the year. But, why would you want a music festival as a part of your branding strategy? Splatter tell their clients that music festivals scratch at least 4 distinctive itches.

    First, brands get a great experiential and engagement opportunity to have a deep and meaningful interaction with their consumers. Going to a festival is the most exciting thing most people ever do; this makes them incredibly open minded to messages from sponsors.

    Second, brands can use their participation at the music festival to tell a broader story to the media, by buying media and mobilising online communities. Festivals can deliver huge value in terms of PR and marketing when done well.

    Thirdly, your brand benefits from increased awareness as well as a positive and often passionate association and alignment with the festival itself and the artists attending.

    Finally, there are enormous sampling opportunities, which your target consumer will often pay for! On site, sales can be leveraged, and most experienced brands report substantial increases in sales post event.

    Which music festival would fit your brand?

    Splatter is a specialist music communications agency based in China. Split Works, Splatter’s sister company, is a Beijing- and Shanghai-based concert promotion agency. Together they maintain China Music Radar, a blog about the Chinese music industry.

    Print

    So Kodak

    It’s been a long way down for Kodak. Unlike the record industry the photographic film companies barely received fair warning before their businesses crumbled to dust.

    After a decade in the desert there might be some light at the end of the tunnel though. With appointment of CMO Jeffrey Hazlitt, Kodak set out on a furious restructuring of their marketing department and strategy. The outcome: So Kodak.

    Now the campaign might look relatively basic, but the devil is in the details. One could suspect that the ambassadors (Rihanna, Trey Songz, Drake and Pitbull) have been chosen not only for their accomplishments in the studio and on stage, but also for their social media savviness. Added to this is a very successful blog campaign with key influencers such as Nahright.com, Onsmash.com and Concreteloop.com.

    What demographic they’re going for? The one that have adapted to and developed social media further than any other, but that’s an entirely different article.

    Take a look at, and read E-consultancy’s interview with Jeffrey Hazlitt.

    Print

    The talent show and your brand

    Pre American Idol, the idea that anything but professionals could deliver content to the most important slot in the broadcast schedule seemed preposterous. Talent shows were something that the local promoter or indie label used to sell beer or t-shirts, and if they were televised at all the aura was more public service than Fox. So, what happened?

    How come when you’re flicking through your channels today, at any given time, you’re likely to stumble upon America’s Next Top Model, America’s Best Dance Crew, Project Runway, American Idol (still), or any of the other talent-fueled formats that saturate the networks today.

    Leading up to the bursting of the IT bubble, interactivity made its first appearance as “the future”. Even though this future was mainly envisioned online, other media felt the need to keep up.

    One of the first interactive formats that delivered more than the butt of a joke was Big Brother that premiered 1999 in Holland. Viewers were suddenly able to affect the programming by sending a contestant home each week with their votes. Today, interactivity has become an integral part of the broadcast business, and included in programs ranging from music to cooking.

    In Sweden the two biggest TV formats today are Idol (the Swedish version of American Idol) and Eurovision Song Contest. In addition to boasting 2-3 million viewers on a good night (in a country with 9 million citizens) every episode generate millions in SMS fees and lord knows how much in advertising and sponsorships.

    One of the hardest things to do is to build an artificial character that evokes real emotions. And even if you’ve done that successfully, there’s still the script writing, casting, arguing with directors and whatnot. What  if you could get all of the ingredients for good TV drama by just filming a bunch of teenagers trying to prove themselves as the best dancers in the country? Or by just sheer volume of characters be able to almost expect a magical moment like Paul Potts to occur on your show sooner or later?

    Authentic people bring a set of beauties and flaws rare in broadcast before, and the relatability of the characters evoke emotions among the viewers in a way most drama can’t.

    Beyond the sponsor sign

    Apart from being truly great TV the American Idol auditions also serve as event activation. The auditions reach tens of thousands of people, giving American Idol and any brand associated with them the opportunity to interact with their audience for an entire day. America’s Best Dance Crew has a less extended audition process, but let the finalists perform in malls and event centers across the country in between the weekly finals instead. Both scenarios give any sponsor a pull effect to the events that few could count on otherwise.

    With further specializing and more channels than ever in broadcast along with skyrocketing license fees for high quality content, there’s a great opportunity for brands to get access to audiences in ways that traditional advertising just can’t.

    master-mix-logo

    Brand integration is becoming a standard operating procedure both for networks to fund their programming, as well as for top tier advertisers in order to leverage the effect of their regular TV spots. Some brands take it further though. Airing right now on BET is a Smirnoff branded DJ talent hunt where the “Master of the mix” is to be nominated. Smirnoff’s graphical elements are worked in into the graphic profile of the show and Smirnoff’s presence is crystal clear throughout the show. In addition to that, it’s a really good show if you’re interested in music, which means you will effectively be spending hours with the Smirnoff brand this fall.

    Print

    Lady Gaga covered in meat - the beginning of the end of recognition

    We guess none of you missed Lady Gaga receiving her MTV Video Of The Year award in a dress made of raw meat. Last time Heartbeats brought up the lady on this blog, we wrote about lessons brands could learn from Gaga’s successful incorporation of the four Es (of emotions, engagement, experiences and exclusivity) in her personal brand building. However, since then her search for attention has accelerated, and her increasingly freaked out methods must be perceived as symptoms of marketing gone sick. It is recognition for the sake of recognition, in an era where more than ever, people seek brands with relevance that add meaning to their lives.

    lady-gaga-meat-dress

    In the past 50 years not many brands have had to go as far as dressing up in meat to get the recognition needed to sell products; TV advertising used to do the job pretty well. Attention was easily bought, and consumer behavior was fairly simple to predict. But the digital revolution of the last 15 years of has changed this rapidly. All of the world’s information is just one click away, and we are facing a saturated market, where brands compete with anyone anywhere to get people’s attention.

    We can see at least two ways companies have tried to meet these challenges (sometimes combining the two). Firstly, we have companies that seem to believe in the model that if they just increase their marketing budgets and media investments, sooner or later consumers will be persuaded to buy into their products. Though what these brands have left out of the calculation is that today recognition means nothing without relevance…

    Secondly, we have companies who are fully aware of the importance of being relevant. They have understood that everyone is connected (and thereby competes with one other), so they have moved the focus (and thereby marketing efforts) away from merely ‘buying recognition’ to deserving it. They have added value and a higher purpose to their overall communication and marketing strategies. Instead of pushing out information about product benefits, they tell memorable stories, leaving the idea about persuading their customers behind, in its place helping them create more meaning in their lives. Simply put, they have chosen relevance before recognition.

    At Heartbeats, we have seen our own clients facing this problem of recognition vs. relevance. Often they have a product that is well recognised on the market, but not considered relevant or the preferred brand of the target group. People don’t buy into the story of the brand or just don’t feel strongly enough for the brand. This has resulted in our communication department developing entertainment, music and culture strategies with higher purposes, transcending traditional marketing through the four Es adding true brand relevance and touching the hearts of our client’s customers.

    Lost Sthlm - Axe Soundsystem from Emil Rydberg on Vimeo.

    Let’s hope that the desperation Lady Gaga seems to have in keeping attention isn’t spreading to brands that want to stay relevant in the marketplace. Seriously, can anyone tell us what could possibly come next after covering yourself in raw meat? All ideas are welcome…

    Print

    Bands & Brands @ Digital Music 2.0/Sonar Festival

    Print

    Can’t get you out of my head

    earHow many times have you heard a song that you simply can’t get out of your head? One that seems to be stuck on repeat somewhere in the recesses of your brain?

    What you’re experiencing is called an “earworm”. Taking its name from the German word, “Ohrwurm”, the phenomenon can last from a few hours to a number of days. But how does it work? Research at the University of California suggests the brain stores previously heard melodies like index cards in a Rolodex. Some songs seem to trigger questions inside our brains, which in turn search for answers by playing the loop over and over again.

    Earworms are not very complicated by nature. In fact, the simpler the track, the greater the chance of it sticking in your head. Song repetition also increases the likelihood of reaching earworm status, as do unexpected musical twists in the song or melody. Earworms are everywhere, lurking in popular music and in the most successful sound logotypes.

    Marketing professor, James Kellaris, compiled a list of the most (in)famous earworms. Here are five out of ten songs from what Kellaris refers to as “The Playlist from Hell.”

    See if you agree (click on each song to listen in Spotify):

    Print

    Lady Gaga - Living proof of music branding

    gaga

    Lady Gaga is living proof of the importance of the four Es; emotions, experiences, engagement and exclusivity, to stand out in today’s marketplace. Earlier this year Polaroid announced a strategic partnership with our fastest rising star, Lady Gaga, who now serves as Polaroid’s creative director. A brilliant strategic marketing move for Polaroid. With close to ten million Facebook fans and Twitter followers together, the lady of glam has proved she can move products. But, what is it about Lady Gaga that has made her this successful?

    To begin with, Lady Gaga is a brand, and a brand of substance. She is an expert on building emotional ties to her audience, through her music. With specially designed clothes, sometimes haute couture (sometimes no clothes), dance and art, Lady Gaga gives her fans inspiring and unique performances, experiences, that they remember! Further, she gives people things to talk about, myths, often spread through social media by the lady herself, thus engaging fans all over the world into two-way conversations and storytelling, promoting the lady and her music, and reaching new fans. Moreover, Lady Gaga is about breaking boundaries, being interesting, standing out and distinguishing herself from other artists. Thus, she is exclusive. Overall, she is the new marketing model, the four Es, personified, and brands definitely have a lot to learn from her!

    First lesson: It is the brand and not the product that matters most in today’s harsh market. Would people listen to Lady Gaga just for her voice? Second: By using the four Es marketing model, creating emotions, experiences, engagement and exclusivity, brands will build brand equity and increase their sales. Just as Lady Gaga does, brands will move their products. Final lesson: It’s still about the music! Using music - the media most people would least like to live without, as the fundamental key to create the four Es, will strengthen brands. Again, take a look at Lady Gaga. What would she be without her music? A spectacle, a freak stared at walking down the street? She would definitely not be one of the most talked about brands (sorry artists), covering fancy magazines all over the world, reaching new audiences, would she?

    Print