Are you buying into music festivals this summer?
If the answer is "NO" - can you say with all honesty you are not tempted to?
Is your Facebook homepage currently being bombarded with videos of festival goers dancing in sun soaked euphoric bliss via ad campaigns? The example below is one recently uploaded by Citadel Festival - with a staring role played by the Pomba Girls who were caught parading around the various zones as Corona Sunset Goddesses
It is not surprising that pleasure loving city dwellers (like moi) are currently being targeted by music festival advertising. Now the sun is showing it's face again we are desperate to get lost in carefree festive revelry in a world of Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love!!! Or is it Secret Cinema where that is happening?
One this is crystal clear- the music festival business is BOOMING as we the consumer continue to demand MORE from our festival experience. Not satisfied with a lineup of bands we also want spiritual playgrounds filled with reiki healers, enchanted forests with 20ft adult climbing frames and drag queens teaching the art of "vouging" . Music festivals are essentially well orchestrated commercially driven rituals that enable us to escape from everyday life and indulge in a whole array of activities designed to stimulate our sense and release our inhibitions. It is therefore no surprise that once we cross their threshold we feel the immediate desire to consume the world around us and journey around their various zones with our mind, mouth and wallet wide open!
This consumer playground can only function if we have a vast quantity of sellers able to accommodate our every need. Those who sell to us at festivals area varied bunch, that still to a degree includes the “humble artisans” pitching their tents of hand made costumes (only now they arrive with card readers powered up in their custom made bum bags). Positioned next to the independent traders we also now have entire festival zones occupied by BIG Brands. It is alcohol brands that are taking over the largest territory offing not only pop-up bars but stages with a top DJ line up and an array of activities for consumers to experience in an immersive, indulgent and carefree capacity.
It's all very smart as drawing us into these branded worlds they are not simply selling to us but actually connecting us with their brand identity whilst our senses are in a state of festival euphoria. And if they film this activity they end up with a stockpile of digital content for sharing across their media channels wherein our smiling faces play the staring role.
To investigate the matter first hand, last year I took the Pomba Girls along to a London based festival which was loaded with Brand experiences: Citadel. Our sizzling Sunday adventure included venturing into the depths of a magical “Swedish pine forest” to indulge in a pint of Kopparberg Fruity cider, hanging out in a colorful Mexican hacienda where we binged on authentic street food and margaritas courtesy of Jose Curveo. Finally we embraced the summer sunset downing ice cold beers whilst dancing to beats inspired by beach parties of the Balearics on the Corona Sunset stage. Our Citadel “sunset ritual” was also made even better by the fact that it was sponsored by the crew of Corona Sunsets themselves who let us come down as dancers for the set of number 1 DJ Cal Jader.
Even though our own outfits were not technically sponsored by Corona Sunsets (just something we had in our Pomba Costume Box) given their association with the Corona Sunset stage design we were passable as Brand advocates. As we paraded around the festival grounds we were endlessly mobbed by the pubic wanting to take photos, follow us and become apart of our “tribe” by insisting we covered them in glitter. This experience gave me and my fellow Pomba Girls a unique insight into the behavioral patterns of the festival consumer and how we as performers had the power to influence them.
To examine these findings I shall relate to you a hypothetical scenario wherein you - in the role of festival goer become unknowingly converted to consumer and brand advocate a cleverly engineered brand experience. At all times I encourage you to reflect on moments wherein spending may have happened and question the value behind such spending. In true Pomba Girl format I have broken the experience into 3 key stages based upon the ritual processes that form the backbone of how we produce our own event experiences: Come Together, Transform & Unleash!
Stage 1: Come Together:
You and your festival crew are roaming free around the festival site hungry for adventure when suddenly you encounter a trio of performers dressed (for the purpose of this exercise) as three Corona Sunset inspired "Goddesses”. Drawn in by their visual splendor your first instinctive reaction will be to request a photo with them. The Goddesses conform to this request gladly on condition that you tag #CoronaSunsets so you will remain connected, and able to continue to share your moments between each other. Now the Goddesses invite you and your crew to follow them to their Corona Sunset Kingdom. Together you journey across the field, recruiting more and more festival goers who are drawn into the beauty of the Goddesses. By the time you arrive at your destination your small crew has become an impressive tribe! To celebrate you head to the bar and get a first round of drinks in - 10 ice cold bottles of Corona, for you, your new friends each of the Goddess’ (who did mention they were thirsty along the way). When you return to the rest of the tribe a circle has formed around the Goddesses - who are sat on patterned rugs with an array of pots filled with glitter, face-paints and brushes and all necessary equipment to lead onto stage two of the process..
Stage 2: Transform
The shimmering beauty of the Goddesses has inspired you to also upgrade your “festival look” to something that channels the vibe of the SUNSET TRIBE! They invite you into their circle wherein you bask in the sunshine knocking back your beer as they adorn you with face-paint and glitter in the distinct colors and patterns that form part of their identity. This process is often a lengthy one as everyone wants their turn for a transformation, so you sit back and enjoy the summer beats whilst the beer continues to flow - as each member of the tribe dutifully takes their turn to head to the bar and relinquish the thirst of the other members. Whilst chilling out you continue to take pictures, share posts and pose for photographs with the festival photographers who are now as infatuated with you as they are with the Goddesses. Now that everyone has their look complete and bottles are raised into the air and a final moment is captured (shared) before moving on to the final stage of the process.
Stage 3: Unleash!
The sun is starting to set and we are building to the crucial stage the ritual wherein all energy brewing over the course of the previous two stages will Unleash on the dance floor! The DJ hits the decks to drop some sizzling summer beats and the Goddesses begin releasing yet more energy as they dance around in circles casting golden confetti into the air. Whilst you may wish to capture this moment on camera you are too caught up in it to be bother retrieving your i-Phone. Rest assured however there are plenty of other cameras on the action from phones and hired photographers. The beat gets stronger as a crew of live drummers take to the stage, the Goddesses start to spin you around. Feeling high on happiness you decide to take a moment and witness the sun setting over the crowd of dancing golden bodies. As you gaze across the crowd you swig bag your beer and close your eyes - promising yourself that you will will remember this moment forever.
In the above scenario casts an awareness to how a few hours of time within the festival may have cost you the festival-goer but also what you got out of it. The £37.50 Corona Sunset round that appears on your statement between the £24.50 Kopparburg forest splurge and the £49.50 blow out in Tequila town - (plus the sequin knickers £24.99) - might help to rack up just some of the days spending. However surely your experience as a consumer who generously give to others and the pleasurable act of consuming various products in delightful environments - makes it all worth it right? And do not fret over the fact that your festival adventure as a free spirit was actually a well engineered marketing exercise that quite literally left you “branded”- was it not still deeply enjoyable? How about feeling a thrill of excitement that in today's world this fleeting moment may well have been captured and even edited into a sexy video that personifies everything you hoped your festival experience should be.
It might even be worth taking a very moments cruise a few you-tube streams of Brands you recall encountering at festival just in case you stumble across a video that features a flash shot of yourself caught up in essence of the experience.
Found one? Great - then share it!