Summer concerts bring kids of all ages out to fairs and festivals, amphitheaters and arenas to rock with their favorite bands. And this year, as they piled into stadium parking lots and plied their way through the concourse crowds, they found all kinds of engaging experiences. Some, thanks to OfficeMax, got to create signs to wave to the performers on stage. Kia airbrushed attendees with temporary tattoos. KC Masterpiece and Kingsford fired up the grill for fans at backstage barbecues. And those are just a few of the on-site events.
If it seemed like there were more sponsorship activations than ever this year, that’s true. As traditional media is being reevaluated, music sponsorships and activations are growing. Marcie Allen, president of MAC Presents, which handles sponsorship activation for major brands on concert tours, says more are diving into the space. “There is a lot of clutter with sponsorships in the marketplace today,” she says. “But if the brand is able to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience, like the opportunity to meet the band or a sweepstakes where they can fly away for a private concert, or even just a memorable experience, that creates through the passion point of music a sense of loyalty to the brand. It builds awareness or reinforces a loyalty that is already there.”
And with album sales down and the costs of touring up, even the musicians themselves are rolling out the red carpet for sponsors. “It used to be that a lot of artists didn’t want to be involved with corporate America,” Allen says. “Now, sponsorship is not a bad word. Sponsorship really means partnership between the brand and artist. The brand can give them marketing support in launching a new tour or album. If it’s an authentic connection, consumers will embrace it.”
Just like they do pop, rock and country. Here’s a taste of the concerts and tours sponsors were banking on this summer:
Music and cocktails go together, just like Bacardi and the Black Eyed Peas. As official spirit of the Black Eyed Peas E.N.D. Tour, Bacardi is served at in-venue concert pre-parties and at exclusive after-parties held at local clubs where band members Will.i.am and Fergie have been known to show up for an impromptu performance. Tickets naturally are hard to get, but at each stop 1,000 to 1,200 fans get in by winning local contests and radio promos, along with friends of the band and Bacardi. A “V.I.Pea” classic Bacardi daiquiri, created by Bacardi’s global mixologist and made, of course, with Bacardi and a special black sugar and garnished with a black-eyed pea for good luck, is featured on the menu. A blogger who travels with the band uploads footage from the after-parties and inside info onto a tour blog, bacarditheendtourblog.com, for those who want to know what Fergie eats before she goes on stage and how much Taboo likes macaroni and cheese.
Throughout the arena concourse, concessions are merchandised with Bacardi signage, barware and cups promoting Bacardi as the official Black Eyed Peas cocktail. In addition, custom-built freestanding backlit bars sell the V.I.Pea and Bacardi and cola drinks. In high-traffic areas throughout the arena, fans can experience Lyrics Rain, an activation where they stand in front of a graphic of the band while the lyrics from their songs rain down around them. Fans can enter their email address and phone number on a touch screen to win coveted passes to the after-party. They can also become superimposed over an image of the group in a green-screen experience that they can take home or email to friends.
“Everyone is fighting for the same person—males of legal drinking age to age 24 years old,” says Billy Melnyk, senior brand manager at Bacardi. “Those consumers are seeing so many ads and are approached by so many brands, but they have certain passion points. They like music, sports and girls, so it makes sense to put all those things together. For some brands, there is a really good tie. When we do music, it feels true, honest and simple because it is part of our brand DNA. Other brands may fit better with sports, but for us, music clicks so well” (Agency: Javelin, St. Louis). Brita Water filtration brand Brita this summer is helping two tours—Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson—go green by eliminating or lessening disposable bottled water consumed on site. Brita also hopes to raise awareness for the FilterForGood movement, a program it sponsors with Nalgene to encourage people to switch to reusable bottles.
Fans can fill reusable bottles with Brita-filtered water at Hydration Hubs located throughout concert venues. They also can take the FilterForGood pledge and learn how small changes can make a big difference for the environment. At Dave Matthews Band concerts, those who take the pledge may win an autographed poster from that night’s show. Social media channels Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also help Brita get the word out.
Brita has worked with other artists, including U2, country music act Lady Antebellum and guitarist Ben Harper, to reduce on-tour bottled water waste.
“Musicians in particular have to drink a lot of water while they’re out on the road,” says Drew McGowan, Brita senior group manager. “A lot of them are just realizing how much water they are going through. It’s an opportunity to do three things: keep their voices and their health up, lessen their impact on the earth and save money in the process. It’s a pretty nice thing, and we are getting more and more calls from bands to help support them” (Agencies for Dave Matthews Band: Effect Partners, Minneapolis; Edelman, Chicago and San Francisco. For Jack Johnson: Edelman, Chicago and San Francisco; Reverb, Portland, ME).
KC Masterpiece, Kingsford Charcoal
Sponsors KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce and Kingsford Charcoal for the second year are heating up country artist Keith Urban’s 2010 Summer Lovin’ Tour, a cross-country quest celebrating “Real People, Real Music and Real Food.” At each stop on the tour, the brands host a Keith Urban Backstage Barbecue Experience (KUBBE), which includes concert admission and an exclusive acoustic performance by and photo op with Urban for 50 people, 10 of whom have been nominated and recognized by fellow fans as the “Real Deal” on KC Masterpiece’s Facebook site.
“It’s a way for Keith’s fans to be more involved with who gets the tickets versus us picking people randomly,” says Drew McGowan, senior group manager, p.r. and sponsorships at Clorox, which owns the brands. “We wanted to celebrate the positive people out there, people who have made a difference in their communities, even with everything negative that is going on in the world.” The remaining KUBBE passes go to VIPs, Keith Urban fan club members and local radio stations. Grilled food seasoned, of course, with KC Masterpiece and cooked over Kingsford Charcoal, tops the menu, along with other barbecue favorites.
For viral buzz, fans can pose in front of on-site concert signage showing Urban and his band at a backyard barbecue and retrieve the photo online, or snap the shot with their own camera. Through Sept. 6, fans also can text to win free tickets and seat upgrades and enter to win a private backyard barbecue and concert in Nashville, TN, that will take place in October for 25 people. World champion and tour pitmaster Chris Lilly will do duty at the grill while Urban himself performs. Fans can also win free song downloads and Monkeyville fan club memberships by visiting kcmasterpiece.com.
“Our two brands are all about a lifestyle and slowing down life. Everybody is so busy these days, attached to their BlackBerry, their computer, almost every hour of the day. People are looking for a couple of opportunities to unplug and forget about things,” says McGowan.
“Whether slowing down in your backyard, at a tailgate at a football game or at a concert, the idea is unplugging for a couple of hours and grounding yourself again and focusing on the good things in life. The same people who enjoy backyard barbecuing and having friends over are the same ones who are going to country music shows as well as Keith Urban shows” (Agencies: On-site activation, George P. Johnson, Nashville; Sponsorship and fulfillment, MAC Presents, Nashville, Current Lifestyle Marketing, Chicago.)
As the official vehicle of the 2010 Vans Warped Tour, Kia bared its Soul (and its Forte Koup and Sportage models) to thousands of gen Y music lovers who showed up for performances by punk acts and metal bands in 40 cities. Kia sponsored an interactive Soul Lounge where a dj spun tunes and airbrush tattoo artists painted temporary tattoos on attendees who also got to create short video messages at the Express Your Soul “Confessional.” Afterwards, they could go online and retrieve the video and pass it along to their friends, giving the activation that all-important viral component that these kids love. By participating, attendees earned Kia VIP wristbands for exclusive access to a VIP riser near the main stage where they could escape the sun and enjoy unobstructed views of the performers. Kia also offered up exclusive daily autograph sessions in the Soul Lounge with two of the biggest names on tour, Hey Monday and Christofer Drew of NeverShoutNever, who also performed in a few select markets.
Besides Soul Lounge, the car-maker was presenting sponsor of the Kevin Says Stage, a solar-powered stage where local bands got to strut their stuff, and an interactive tour blog, “The Warped Word of Steve,” which offered behind-the-scenes insights, videos and answers to fans’ questions throughout the tour.
Fans could also enter to win a Kia Soul Sport in the “A New Way to Roll” sweepstakes sponsored by Kia and Fuse Networks at fuse.tv/newwaytoroll from June 24 to Aug. 27. Soul Survival Kit prize packs consisting of backpacks, t-shirts, water bottles and more will be awarded as additional prizes.
“We refresh it every summer and every summer we feel like we attract more and more people,” says Kathryn Cima, manager-sponsorships and promotions at Kia, which has sponsored the tour for three summers. “There is a lot of alignment, it helps us connect with this audience and projects our youthful and spirited and energetic personality” (Agency: ignition, Atlanta).
As sponsor of the Jonas Brothers’ Camp Rock Tour, the office products retailer reached an important consumer segment—kids and their moms. The fun began on the road with a specially wrapped Office Max semi that transported the band’s equipment, and continued online with a sweepstakes in which kids 13 years and up could download and bring game pieces to their local store to see if they won the grand prize of tickets to the Jonas Brothers concert in San Francisco. Other winners scored an autographed guitar, locker-size posters or OfficeMax gift certificates. The retailer also gave away concert tickets to Facebook friends and Twitter followers (Agency: MAC Presents, Nashville).
At concert venues, OfficeMax sponsored sound-check parties that served as meet-and-greets with band members and offered behind-the-scenes glimpses of the tour, plus stations where kids could get temporary tattoos and make signs and cards to send backstage to the Jonas Brothers. They could also pose at a photo diorama station before a backdrop of the boys in a school setting, then retrieve the photo online and share it with their friends digitally.
“The OfficeMax brand strives to be fun, innovative and passionate, and those characteristics are brought out by these music concert tours,” says Bill Bonner, senior director-external relations at OfficeMax. “It’s something that people get excited about, they don’t happen that often, and they are a fantastic emotional fit. It really gives us an opportunity to deliver a favorable brand experience to the people we most want to reach when they are in a great state of mind.”
Tide’s busy booth inside the New Orleans Convention Center informed, entertained and engaged attendees at the Essence Music Festival, which took place July 2 to 4, with a mix of style, glamour and good ol’ product demos. The experience began outside where the new Tide logo, applied with removable spray chalk, appeared on walkways in high-traffic areas surrounding the Convention Center entrance and carport.
Inside, TV personality Alesha Renee hosted the booth each day and celebrity appearances by Chrisette Michelle, Idris Elba and others ramped up the excitement at meet-and-greets and photo ops with fans. Tide wowed attendees with on-site demos that showed how its new Acti-Lift detergent lifts stains, info that any well-dressed fashionista has to know. The brand also hosted informative style panels about fabric care. During catwalk challenges stylish attendees got to strut their stuff, with the winner receiving concert tickets. Fans also received a free digital photo against the Tide backdrop, which they retrieved from the Tide Facebook page.
“We were thrilled to partner with the Essence Music Festival for the debut of Tide with Acti-Lift technology,” says Tide external relations manager Christina Saunders. “At the Tide Acti-Lift booth, we provided an interactive experience for consumers to make a strong connection between personal style and Tide’s amazing cleaning ability. Tide Loads of Hope ambassadors were also on hand at the booth to continue to raise awareness of Tide Loads of Hope’s ongoing support in New Orleans and educate attendees about the ways in which they can get involved” (Agency: Starcom Mediavest Group, New York City; Photo activation: Moderne Communications, Rockville Center, NY). EM