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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK
Why just a logo is now a no-no
By Simon Atkinson
Business Reporter, BBC News

Mark Ronson
Sponsors help festivals pay big name artists to play

Of all the queues expected at this weekend's Glastonbury festival, the longest will almost certainly not be for drinks, toilets or even wellies.

Instead, after a couple of days of arranging to meet friends outside the tofu burger stall or pear cider bar, most demand is expected to be on the mobile phone-charging zone.

Across three days, at least 100,000 handsets will be powered up at the on-site Chill n' Charge tent.

The facility is free and will not feature any logos of the mobile phone network which is providing it.

However, its choice of colour for the canvas - bright orange - might give even the most sozzled of festival-goers a clue about who is behind it.

You can't just stamp your logo on things any more
Mat Sears
Orange

The marquee will also contain 35 internet terminals to show off the company's broadband service.

Punters will be encouraged to "upload your pics, e-mail your mates and let your mum know you're still in one piece" - while those at home get behind-the-scenes tours and a Glastonbury blog from Peaches Geldof.

'More experiential'

"We want people to walk away from the festival feeling more positive about our brand than when they arrived, to think that we have done something for them," said Mat Sears, spokesman for, yep, Orange.

Orange's Chill n' Charge tent at Glastonbury 2005
I've been here hours. This is the queue for the bar, isn't it?

"Then obviously we hope that when it comes to them deciding which mobile network to sign up with, who to supply their broadband, we might be their number one option."

When Orange started its sponsorship of the festival six years ago, it was largely just about having a branded presence, Mr Sears adds.

"But it has to be more experiential now," he says, especially given the company's heavy involvement in music, selling about 100,000 singles through its phones each month.

"You can't just stamp your logo on things anymore. Customers are savvier, so we try to be creative.

"The mobile phone charging is a way of us being useful, of not just trying to exploit our position as a sponsor and push something in people's faces."

Reliving experiences

It seems that where music is concerned, it is no longer enough for financial backers to simply put their name and cash to an event.

To be credible, you have to be part of the whole experience, according to technology industry writer and editor of Mobile Marketing Magazine, David Murphy.

Faithless play a Tiscali Session
Tiscali Sessions allow fans up close to bands like Faithless

"Any form of sponsorship should be used as a springboard to promote the brand," he says.

"So if you're sponsoring a music festival, it would be negligent not to use the event to showcase what you can deliver."

You certainly couldn't accuse O2 of being subtle in its sponsorship of last weekend's Wireless Festival in London and Leeds - which some have labelled, and indeed derided, as the most corporate festival of the summer.

Giant logos above the stage and the branded beach balls being passed around the crowd left little doubt about the identity of the main backer.

But it, too, used the event to show off its technology and involve its current customers, as well as to try to win new ones.

I guess it's all about people associating your brand with having a good time
Rob Andrews
Head of Entertainment
Tiscali UK

Existing users could receive a barcode by text message, allowing them access to a VIP area with a bar and music.

Other offers included text messages containing news and gossip from backstage, while onstage performances were recorded and have been made available via mobile on the network's Wap site, advertised under the banner, "Relive it".

"It has gone beyond mere badging an event with our logo. We want to drive an emotional connection with our customers," said the network's head of sponsorship, Amanda Jennings.

"I hope that everyone had a good time at Wireless, but that if you were an O2 customer, that you had an extra good time."

Eye-catching

Digital consultant Ben Carter says that a brand can only bring its sponsorship to life by encouraging the customer to engage with it.

"Having exclusive content is a must-have," he says.

"Signing up to sponsor a festival, concert or act is a very good way of securing the content that your customers want."

Creating such "exciting, original" content is a priority for broadband provider Tiscali UK, says its head of entertainment Rob Andrews.

It broadcast sets from the main stage at the Wireless Festival live on its website, which was viewed by "thousands".

And it also held 15 backstage gigs, each for less than 100 people, with acts including Badly Drawn Boy, newcomers Scouting for Girls and a rare acoustic set by Faithless.

The performances will be made available on the web and, eventually, television.

The sponsors now want their pound of flesh
Barry Houlihan
Mobile Interactive Group

However, Mr Andrews admits that such things also catch the eye of would-be customers who are lucky enough to snare a ticket to an intimate show, or watch live performances at home that otherwise would have cost them 40 a ticket.

"We're not using the content as a marketing tool per se, but the marketing benefits that come with it are nice," he said.

"Kids nowadays can get blind to brands and want to get something a bit more tangible. I guess it's all about people associating your brand with having a good time."

Scouting for Girls
Gigs by acts such as Scouting for Girls will also make it to TV

Barry Houlihan, the managing director of Mobile Interactive Group, which designed interactive technology for the Wireless Festival, as well as for Live 8, Prince's Trust concerts and the Brit Awards, is more frank.

He says efforts by communication firms are about "acquiring new customers, getting revenue from existing ones".

"It is not long ago that a sponsor would stump up a lot of money to sponsor a festival or tour. They'd maybe have their banners and run a competition to meet a band, but things have changed dramatically.

"The sponsors now want their pound of flesh."

But Mr Houlihan warned that it was not enough for companies to bombard customers with experiences that were not relevant.

"Whatever you are offered has to be part of your experience. If it does not feature you, your own experience, or something going on at the event you're at, then it does not work."


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