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Festival Season - Who Were The Winners?

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Festival Season - Who Were The Winners?

By Victoria Burke

As we march on through September, it’s safe to say that the 2019 festival season has most definitely come to a close… And what a summer it was!

The return of Glastonbury was definitely a highlight for me. There’s something about watching live music events, I cant help but get swept up in the atmosphere and feel a part of something much bigger.

And that’s the whole point. Festivals are all about the experience.

Both for the people lucky enough to snag a ticket to be there in person and those (like me) that are peeking in from the outside thanks to TV coverage and the power of social media.

And that’s exactly why brands are flocking to festivals in their droves. It’s a no-brainer; unparalleled access to 18-34 year olds with a disposable income, the ability to capture a plethora of content for social feeds and the ability to amplify their brand activity far beyond the remote fields of the festival itself.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, if done right, festival activations can really deliver on brand objectives and result in high-fives all round. But if executed poorly, you might be left paying the price when pitching your 2020 marketing budget, because these partnerships don’t come cheap!

We’ve taken a look at some activations from this summer’s festival circuit, and here are our favourite 3 in reverse order…

Pukka Herbs - Latitude Festival

Pukka, producers of organic teas and supplements from ethically sourced herbs, returned to Latitude Festival for a second consecutive year with their #pukkaswildsummer activation.

Providing festivalgoers with a much-needed place of relaxation away from the carnage, along with free organic pukka beverages and herbal mocktails, the brand created an immersive environment that was spot on for a festival and specifically for the Latitude audience.

Pukka managed to find the sweet spot between product promotion and value-added activities for visitors that also support the brand ethos, like offering free sessions with a Herbal Education Specialist.

Kudos to their team as well for providing “Plant a seed, save a bee” workshops. Environmental impact has without a doubt been at the top of the festival agenda this year and the Pukka approach not only does some actual good, it helps educate the next generation.

REN Clean Skincare - Wilderness

REN Clean Skincare is the activist brand challenging the beauty industry with their mission to be zero waste by 2021 through recycled, recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging.

Working with Wilderness Festival, REN made sure there was nothing new about their sustainable stand. Everything was made from either reclaimed wood or recycled plastic – a must for a brand whose mission is so steeped in sustainability. They also had a bin to collect empty cosmetics that were to be recycled.

Their standout piece was a large pledge wall and visitors were asked to make a commitment to reduce their single-use plastic consumption. In return those pledging received a free travel-size sun screen product from the brand.

The brand also hosted talks with a couple of their brand ambassadors, offering festival goers tips on how we can all do more to help reduce our impact on the environment.

For a brand that has committed to zero waste by 2021 attending any festival might seem at odds with that commitment, but, as a brand they still have a job to do, which is to sell products, and at least those products have a less negative impact on the environment than competitors.

The marketer in me can appreciate that Wilderness Festival is a good tie-up for REN; the festival has a rigorous environmental policy and as a brand REN are using the activation to get people really thinking about what they can do in order to reduce their environmental impact, they’re not just shamelessly plugging product.

McDonalds - Wireless, TRSMT, Y Not?, Reading and Sundown

Our stand out activation was from fast-food giant McDonalds hit the road this summer visiting a number of festivals to generate brand love with 16-24 year olds in a way that kept product at the heart of things.

Festivals are not new to McDonalds by any stretch having served over 88,000 McFlurrys to festivalgoers over three consecutive summers. So when they decided to hit the road this summer and offer free McNuggets it was always going to pull in the crowds.

What makes this activation stand out for me is that McDonalds always knew free nuggets would be a crowd pleaser, so they made the most of the audience queuing up for their freebie.  Instead of trying to get festivalgoers to interact with the brand and endure long queues for free nuggets, they combined it all together.

Sounds simple, but you’d be amazed at how many activations still keep things totally separate! The crowds were treated to an immersive brand activation that they moved through before finally reaching the airstream trailer that served up free McNuggets.

The use of technology and encouraging an Instagram-savvy audience to share content online played a pivotal role in the activation, as did influencers and reality stars including Joey Essex, whose ad on Instagram has had well over 1 million views.

This activation definitely doesn’t have that intrinsic link between brand and festival that some of the other examples have, but it certainly gained a lot more press coverage and had a stronger pre-event campaign (offering free tickets to each festival alongside MTV).

So when all is said and done, as someone who is always championing the power of face-to-face for brands, it’s safe to say that this is still very much on trend as the realisation sinks in that without it you can’t build a genuine connection with the consumer.

For me, the activation that fuses together the more organic blend of brand and festival, with some of the learning’s from the commercial approach of McDonalds would be the real winner.