Ten golden rules for a successful festival-themed promotion…

Summer means festival season. From niche local affairs to international events, summer festivals have a broad appeal. In the UK alone, the festival audience is 14 million, or 23% of the population, while in the US it is 33 million, or 10% of the population (source: MAMA Festivals). Either way it is quite an audience!

The opportunities for brands to tap into the festival spirit are vast and varied. From Summersby Cider and Original Source, to Corona and Trident, a number of brands are currently running promotions offering UK consumers the chance to win tickets to various events… and they are on to something.

But what are the 10 golden rules for getting it spot on? Amy Nield, Head of travel promotion specialists, Protravel shares her top ten tips…

1. DON’T set your sights on Glastonbury

The iconic music festival, which was first held in 1970, is a definite ‘no go’ area for brands. “Unless you’re a headline sponsor there is no way of getting tickets for promotional purposes,” says Nield.

“Winners have been barred entry before when tickets are discovered to have come from   promotions.” Forget it and move on. There are plenty more fish in the sea…

2. DO your research to find the best fit

Whether it’s tickets to Bestival on the Isle of Wight, Corona SunSets in Weston Super-Mare, Coachella in California or even a surprise festival, check each one out carefully before aligning your brand to it.

For brands which have strong family values for example, events such as the Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons in August is an ideal fit, with its dedicated areas for kids and teenagers. Or check out July’s Curious Arts Festival in the New Forest, which includes bat walks and puppet making alongside headline artists, including Billy Bragg…

3. DON’T leave it until the last minute

Planning in advance is essential as festival tickets are often released months in advance. For example, tickets for the Reading Festival, taking place between August 26th and 28th, 2016, were released in September 2015.

“For the bigger festivals tickets can sell in days or even hours,” says Nield. “It makes sense to work with a specialist to buy them in advance. While we can get tickets for the bigger festivals closer to the event, we have to pay a premium to get them via resellers.”

Planning ahead also means more choice. “The more organised a brand is, the more choice of tickets they have – for example, day tickets, weekend tickets, tickets with camping, tickets for the day with the most popular acts etc.” Brands who think ahead can pick and choose.

4. DO create a package that goes beyond tickets

Think about what else you can include in the prize – travel to the venue for example, or accommodation and spending money.

“My advice is to put together a comprehensive package to ensure winners have an optimal experience,” says Nield. “It is false economy to just offer tickets – winners can end up without accommodation or struggling with transport, which ultimately detracts from the experience and reflects on the brand.”

5. DON’T limit yourself to the summer

“Festivals run all year,” says Nield. “There are lots of high profile events around the world, particularly in the US.” For example, South by South West in Austin, Texas, which is held in March; Coachella, in California, which takes place in April; and Bumbershoot, held in Washington every September.

Brands can capitalise on festival fever in the UK by launching the promotion in the summer months, but winners’ tickets can give them entry to a festival later in the year, or even the following year.

6. DON’T despair if you lack the budget for a festival package or are unable to get tickets

There are still opportunities to jump on the festival bandwagon. For example, winners can win essential festival kit. “This can range from small prizes such as aspirin, torches and hand sanitiser, to top of the range kits which include luxurious camping gear and pairs of Hunter wellies,” says Nield.  

Brands can even work with specialists to throw their own branded festival. “From a low budget local affair with a band and an ice cream van in a winner’s garden, to a larger event with several bands and a range of food and drink stands; there are options to suit each budget,” says Nield. Think outside the box.

7. DO ensure that winners are eligible

Festivals are date specific, so ensure that any winners are available on the relevant dates. If the festival is abroad, brands also need to ensure that winners fulfil a host of criteria – including valid passports and the necessary travel insurance. For many events, consumers have to be aged 18 or over too. Be vigilant to make sure that the lucky winners don’t miss out….

8. DO consider offering a choice

Festivals are often skewed towards slightly different audiences, a hardcore music lover might love the Reading Festival for example, whilst a hip family would be more at home at Latitude. Offering winners a choice of events can ensure they win an experience that really turns them on…

“We recently worked on a promotion with a beauty brand offering winners a choice of prizes, from a pair of festival tickets to a Ticketmaster voucher,” says Nield. “Sometimes consumers like to choose.”

9. DO think beyond the big events

Festivals take place in the UK from spring to autumn, and there are many boutique events that have a more niche or unusual appeal,” says Nield. “These might well resonate more strongly with some brands than a more mainstream event.”

Take the Spring Rides Cycling Festival in Abingdon, Oxfordshire each April. As well as encouraging people to get on their bikes and ride, the event hosts live music, barbecues and bike shop displays. Perfect for a bike brand on a budget… #justsaying

10. DON’T try to be something you’re not

“Some brands make the mistake of trying to pass their brand off as an official partner or sponsor to a major festival when they’re not,” says Nield. This can land a company in hot water.

“Play on the music or festival theme in your promotion, by all means, and tap into the overall vibe, but be sure to keep it generic.

Festivals in numbers

  • The UK saw an 11% growth in festival-related searches year-on-year in 2015 (Source: Google).
  • Growth was driven specifically by mobile – Google identified a 36% increase in festival-related searches via mobile devices (Source: Google).
  • Coachella is the top searched festival when compared to Burning Man, SXSW and Glastonbury (Source: Google).
  • Searches for Coachella 2016 tickets were being made one-hour after the event had finished in 2015 (Source: Google).
  • Three quarters of UK millennials attend one festival per year, meanwhile one quarter attend more than four festivals each year (Source: JWT Intelligence)




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