Sponsorship is something that surrounds our society now through social media.

Years ago, I used to take great delight in spotting really obvious product placement from Coca Cola in films. Or, laugh alongside the super cheesy TV adverts that companies used to put out. However, through social media, specifically Instagram, we are constantly bombarded with sponsored or gifted content. Every second celebrity is selling something, or promoting a product.

What is all the fuss about sponsorships?

When I think of brand sponsorships in for musicians I think of Britney Spears and Pepsi. However, brand sponsorship goes far beyond that in musical culture. Think of all the sponsorship’s and collaborations it takes to put on a music festival. The first year TRNSMT was put on, it was sponsored by Carlsberg, Somersby, Utilita and Pepsi Max. Nonetheless, just because a festival is sponsored by a company e.g Carlsberg doesn’t mean that counts as successful advertisement.  One festival that has broken down the barriers and found a successful way to market and advertise to millennials. The Grosvernors Ball Music Festival’s 2019 partners boasted an impressive stretch of brands including: Bacardi rum, Google, Bud Light, Pepsi, Red Bull, Jameson, Beefeater London, Aperol Spritz and many others. This festival is putting an end to a one-way sponsorship / advertising structure and encouraging brands to pursue engagement marketing.

The Breakdown

At the simplest and most basic level, brands engaging with consumers at festivals is them handing out free packets of crisps. However, at the 2017 Grosvenors Ball Music Festival Subway offered a sandwich tasting with a twist. Subway’s tasting area was in a huge shaded, air-conditioned room featuring a DJ, temporary tattoos and a photobooth. Again in 2017, Bacardi at the GBMF had their branded area featuring a staged ‘backyard party’ with speciality cocktails, comfy chairs, ‘palm tree periscopes’ and pop up performances. All these extras add to the experience and makes people associate your brand with their experiences – people will think of Bacardi as a luxurious summer drink perfect for garden parties.

All brands want to target millennials, they’re a huge part of today’s consumer audience so they can’t afford not to. Millennials need to be able to see the authenticity in what the brand is trying to promote, an example of this being 2015’s Hunter Welly Exchange at Glastonbury. This is effective marketing targeting the right consumer audience at the correct platform. A 2015 Momentum and AEG study found that 93% of millennials like brands who sponsor live music events, with even 8/10 stating branded festivals and concerts are the best way to engage with them. 89% of millennials surveyed perceive brands who sponsor live music events as more authentic, compared to 56% among non-attendees.

Millennials listen to 75% more music than baby boomers, so it comes as no surprise the success of brand sponsorships at festivals. This shines true as millennials make up 72% of Spotify’s listeners, but there are more streaming sites than Spotify seeing success in the millennial market. Research conducted by Pandora show’s that millennials are the biggest and most engaged group on their platform, reaching 54%.

Influencer marketing has seen a rise in recent years, cue the signal of Instagram and reality TV stars flocking there to show off their advertisement deals. According to Hubspot, millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts that are strangers than traditional advertisements, and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs and social media sites. The rise in social media influencing to me seems to stem from the fact that people are influenced by friends and family’s product recommendations. The 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Avertising Report showed 83% of respondents in 60 countries trust the recommendations of friends and family If you follow someone online for an extended amount of time, it gives you an insight to their life – after a while of following them, their recommendations can begin to feel like a recommendation from a friend. In an Adweek study, 57% of millennials state they view sponsored content from a brand as long as it includes authentic personalities whilst being entertaining and useful.

Where are we at now?

Overall, although brand sponsorship and marketing is changing and seems to be developing more online in terms of influencer marketing – for brands looking to target their niche millennial audience, music festivals seem to be the way to go. Brands who know their audience and the type of consumer they want to attract, know where to put their money which is why big brands sponsor big festivals – e.g Somersby and Smirnoff sponsoring Parklife, Heineken and Pull & Bear sponsoring Primavera Sound, etc. Although the world of advertisement and sponsorship is ever changing, brands targeting millennials through their music culture won’t be disappearing anytime soon.