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With Summer now here, brands need to be clear on how they can get more out of event sponsorships.

Typically, brands stick to reaching consumers on the ground. At Glastonbury 2013, mobile network EE targeted throbs of sweaty music-lovers by offering them a free 3G connection, courtesy of their own Wi-Fi tractor.

Also at Glastonbury 2013, another brand, Southern Comfort, created Juke Joint, an on-site music venue that mimicked the ambience of a New Orleans bar.

Both EE and Southern Comfort went above and beyond handing out free samples. Though their tactics landed them a fair amount of coverage, they were still only interacting with festival goers on the ground.

But what about those who aren’t lucky enough to attend? Brands’ on-site marketing strategies rarely have the potential to reach consumers beyond festival attendees.

Instead of only focusing on live experiences, brands need to start thinking about creating and circulating content inspired by these events and activities extending far beyond the festival campgrounds. 

Re:Generation Music Project

A brilliant example of this is the documentary Hyundai created for Coachella 2012. Re: Generation Music Project featured a group of five DJs trying to recreate and reimagine traditional styles of music.

While the documentary was screened at a drive-through theater at Coachella, it can still be streamed on Hulu and is available to buy on DVD. 

By creating engaging content that consumers on the ground and at home can get excited about, brands are simultaneously deepening consumer engagement and reach. The documentary was interesting at the time, but because it featured a genuine story, it  also reached and engaged audiences that were not there.  

The key to getting this kind of quality content is partnering with artists on the ground—photographers, filmmakers, and writers who are at the festival and can capture real moments. Through these partnerships, brands can access a quality stream of visuals and stories that are genuine.

In an interview with the Content Marketing Institute, photographer Thomas Hawk spoke about his collaboration with brands like JBL and Dell for Coachella and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Hawk always maintains the style he has become known for and these collaborations are a win-win. Hawk gets access to take incredible photos, and brands get a set of unique, personable, and high-quality photographs that are more valuable to consumers than brand-sponsored ads.

Brands should make no mistake in recognising that one of the hottest platforms this year is Instagram. It has more than 200m active users, as of last month, and has trumped Twitter in monthly active users.

Brands need to be visual, but with so much content, it’s crucial that the images and videos they put out are not only of a high quality, but tell fresh stories and divulge insider, behind-the-scenes perspectives.

These kinds of shots are naturally suited to the platform as well: Instagram is all about capturing events in the moment, so staged photos in a studio just don't work.

Sharing photos and scenes (while staying on tone for the brand) during a festival helps people not only connect with the brand better, but feel like they're there as well.

With Instagram announcing that it will roll out ads across the UK, Canada and Australia later this year, now is the perfect time for brands to explore this platform for truly global marketing campaigns. 

Toronto Silent Film Festival

Captivating Instagram campaigns don't necessarily need to cost a lot of money to be effective.

The Toronto Silent Film Festival capitalised on the platform by simply encouraging people to turn their devices sideways: their "Instagram Time Machine" unveils a virtual tour of Charlie Chaplin in film history that starts rolling when viewers turn their phones horizontally.

It's a great example of success from a smaller event with a smaller budget, connecting viewers back to the theme of the festival while being interesting and informative in its own right.

If you do have the budget, however, it's worth investing the money to commission the highest quality bespoke images that you can, through platforms such as Getty Images, which are now open to exclusive brand commissions. 

Luckily, platforms like Twitter and Instagram make it possible to find and contact artists within seconds. But, managing freelancers and ensuring quality can always present a challenge.

When it comes to commissioning original content, brands have to give their freelancers the space and freedom to produce the kind of work they want—it is this authenticity after all, that will really get them the following that content marketing often fails to deliver.

Shafqat Islam

Published 23 June, 2014 by Shafqat Islam

Shafqat Islam is CEO & co-founder at NewsCred and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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