Gone are the days when brands would be satisfied with their logos as presenting sponsors on event hoardings or banners. Audience engagement is no longer limited to the ticketing counter or main stage. “It is about what is happening in the various experience zones,” says Sabbas Joseph, director, Wizcraft International, a communication and entertainment agency. “In fact, the entire event has become an experience zone.” Western markets have been a big inspiration in this space with their intrinsic associations with brands; consider how Heineken has a dedicated global sponsorship director. However, unlike India, live events in most other international markets are not too dependent on sponsorships due to high ticket prices and organisers don’t aim to break-even with sponsorships. In contrast, about 50-70% of the event cost is still covered through sponsorships in India.
Vineet Gautam, country head, Bestseller India, which markets and sells Vero Moda and Only, says, “Live events serve as an exciting platform, as they allow brands to connect with their target audience outside of the scope of business.” One of the first music festivals in which the brand engaged with its customers was Sula Fest in 2016.
A Vero Moda experiential zone allowed festival-goers to pre-book their favourite styles from a collection that was launched through a fashion show, while popstar Anushka Manchanda serenaded the audience. More recently, the brand launched the ‘Only for Bieber’ limited edition collection for Justin Bieber’s first Purpose Tour to India, where the brand was the official style partner. But one event does not work wonders. It is through continuous engagements over a period of time that helps in addressing change in volumes and shares of the brand. For brands like Kingfisher, which operate in a regulated advertising environment, innovations in this space are heavy.
Most partnerships are not limited to the multi-day event itself, with content generated during the fest being used at activations throughout the year. For example, Viacom18’s Supersonic conducted a Twitter banter to announce the event line-up with Budweiser along with a post-event film — it created a six-part web series for Gionee talking about the developments in the music space and a fashion film for Ajio. Saugato Bhowmik, head, Integrated Network Solutions and Consumer Products, Viacom18, says, “Fifty percent of what we delivered was content before and after the main festival.” While brands don’t see activations translating into big numbers immediately, engagements help build the buzz and the brand name.