Cape Town’s 2018 festival season: Events, Sponsorship and Experiential

As Cape Town’s busy festival season winds down, we’d like to reflect on how experiential plays a role in ensuring festival and sponsor success.

Established festivals like Rocking the Daisies, We Love Summer, Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts, SpiritFest amongst others continue to deliver great event experiences. 2018 has also seen some interesting crossover experiential-focused festivals like Retreat Yourself (yoga, wellness, music) and Bazique (art, fashion, music) come onto the scene with some success.

The industry is competitive, and an event has to continuously innovate and deliver on their experience in order to engage and excite consumers, retain its audience and grow festival goer numbers.

So what experience design differentiates events?

Millennials that attend festivals are there for a number of reasons – a day out with friends, a favorite DJ, social status, or for the next best experience.

Bazique 2018 Credit: Jan Verboom

But music, friends, drinks, slick production… these are all par for the course. Festival goers are looking for new, what’s cool, fun, novelty, design, for surprise, delight and moments that can be shared with friends in real life and across social media.

This forms an integral part of the consumer journey and the social currency this audience craves in their everyday lives. It’s what we think sets the good festivals apart from the rest.

The Good

Events that do well consider the consumer experience and focus on elements like design, attractions, activations and sponsor related experiences and value adds which elevates the event experience.

Some 2017/18 festivals we thought did well at the above, and how:

  • We Love Summer (WLS): Quintessential fun summer, disco music, water-based attractions,

    We Love Summer 2017 (at RTD)
    Credit: We Love Summer

    summer style activities (volleyball, salsa, groovy pink cars), beautiful crowd and venue.

  • RTD: Multiple experience touch points, variety of music genres, collaborations with niche music festival organisers (like WLS), sponsor activations and sheer scale.
  • Bazique: Full focus on experiential throughout. Art, fashion, music, activations, actors, installations, stage design and experience, and venue… It all culminated in an incredible Afrika Burn-esque experiential feast for the consumer.
  • Other noteworthy events attended but not mentioned: Little Gig 24 Hour Festival (immersive, art, fashion, music, all inclusive, highly curated festival), Eden, Future Frequency.

The Bad & The Ugly

However, where we did see room for improvement throughout the festivals we attended this season was the need the greater sponsor (brand) integration into the overall event experience.

We noticed few immersive experiential marketing efforts this year. Many of the sponsor activations we saw at the festivals we attended had put little effort into curating meaningful experiences.

The days of setting up a few feather banners and a bar, or a lounge pocket are over. It’s easily forgettable and adds no value. Our audience has limited attention and even more limited time – the only way to break through is to offer something fun, unique and exciting to attract their attention.

Event, Sponsorship & Experiential – A Collaboration

Lipton Ice Tea "Secret T-Room" Experiential Activation

Lipton x WLS Secret Garden

Event, sponsorship and experiential should work together to deliver maximum value to the festival, brand and consumer alike. It should result in an elevated experience for all. Brands have the opportunity to tell their story within the context of the event but it should ideally be weaved into the event’s story through pre-event marketing, at the event and beyond.

It’s a two way street, however. Festival organisers need to encourage brands to deliver more curated storytelling through digital and experiential, but seldom do. Brands need to step outside of the ‘safe/easy’ deployment of branding assets and deliver curated spaces and consumer experiences, which is rarely done.

Steps to deliver curated experiences:

  1. Consider the event, it’s brand and image
  2. Consider the audience and their journey, needs and wants
  3. Bring your brand to life and tell your story in the context of the event (and/or brand campaign)
  4. Creating multi-sensory, fun experiences that add value to the consumer
  5. Ensure you have the right brand ambassadors
  6. Engage effectively with the right mechanics
  7. Learn from experience – no activation will be perfect but a constant process of learning and evolution

How to get it right?

If you’re a brand, find yourself a sponsorship and experiential agency that work in tandem to deliver the best results. This includes everything from preferential rates, to integrated communications, quality experiential execution on the ground to engage and build affinity with the audience; and finally, to nurture and evolve the brand’s involvement in the event partnership. (Call us 😉 )

If you’re an event, focus on delivering an experience across all touch points to add value. Event experience design and the theme/s carrying through all elements like stage design, installations, activation areas, bars, etc is key. As is being attentive to consumer journey and their needs. Lastly, working correctly with sponsors to get maximum value from the partnership means more value at reduced cost to the event. (You can also call us 😉 )

Feel free to get in touch with us, or our partner agency Jigsaw. (Experiential Marketing) // (Sponsorship) //