Event Sponsorship Is Dead, Branded Entertainment Is The Future!

I have been in the business of events and brands for the better part of my life. I link brands to parties. Big parties, exclusive parties, festivals, you name it. I think I have worked with pretty much every liquor brand in South Africa and most of the lifestyle brands that play in the eventing space. Which these days is most of them, and if there’s one thing that has become apparent to me recently, it is that:

Sponsorship is dead. Long live branded entertainment.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, the way I see it is this. The world changes so quickly these days. Kids, consumers, communication, trends, music, artists and culture. How do brands keep up to date with everything? They need to be on top of their game, at all times. They can’t miss a beat or else they run the risk of becoming outdated and irrelevant. Quite simply they need to think like promoters.

My experience in promoting clubs, shows and festivals has taught me in the ins and outs of marketing and the biggest lesson I can tell you is that consumers can smell a rat. No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. What do I mean by this? I’m saying you need to be on the cutting edge of culture at all time to really make an impact and your brand needs to live in this same space.

There are the obvious sponsorship models that include logo inclusion, activations, brand placements etc but what box is that really ticking for the brand or is the brand just trying to fit in and be cool? Because if so then basic sponsorship is for you… if however you want your brand to live authentically you need to make it breathe authentically and most of the time it is linking into the intrinsic values of artists and events that epitomize a similar ethos.

A prime example: Ciroc and Diddy. A global deal that saw Ciroc become the #1 vodka in Hip Hop circles across the globe. Hip hop now is all about the lifestyle, the money, the flash, the designer glam all done in your own way. It speaks flash and so does the brand. Ciroc rolled out globally linking itself to local hip hop stars in different markets and using campaigns that spoke to the lifestyle. The result today: massive!

In todays world the way we consume content is immediate; we stream, we download, we purchase online, and generally get what we want, when we want it. It has been taken to this degree from previously having other stations program and broadcast content for us in the format that works best for them, that now that we are in charge and we have the power we want absolute control over it.

There is nothing worse when that control is taken away from us for a new cleaning detergent ad, or some pop-up that interrupts us consuming something we made the choice to watch. Solution? Brands need to create content and focus on their market and speak to them in such a way that it excites and resonates. It must interest and engage them from start to finish.

I feel another great example of excellent branded entertainment is the Corona SunSets Festival. It ticks every single box. It talks to the brands’ ethos, the sunset is a major feature, the music is soothing, the programming of the talent is done with absolute alignment to the brands’ intrinsics, the main stage is even a mandala built to salute the sun! The entire tone and campaign talks sunset and good vibes and all the artists and talent that support it back it with all their might.

The property is fascinating, authentic and makes every brand envious because of the incredible results of the sell out shows. There are no free tickets given away. This is not a brand that is just papering an event to make it look ‘owned’ and cool. People love, engage and buy into the brand, therefore making it an experience that money cant buy. Consumers are not only purchasing the product or getting an earful of aggressive marketing messages, they are literally buying into the brand. And more so… You don’t hear people talk about the SunSets Festival, they talk about the CORONA Sunsets Festival! It is gold in every way!

In order to get the best results in my world and overview of branded entertainment the communications budgets also need to be combined and cohesive. Too many times I have sat with brands that have budget for events and then their media agencies slot it into some or other campaign they are already running, trying to make the two work together, but when it comes to delivering the messages it misses the mark.

There must be a consolidated approach when creating branded entertainment properties within the eventing world and almost 100% of the time it needs to come from the essence of the most creative place possible and then have everything built around it and not the other way around. That to me is the exact difference between Sponsorship and Branded Entertainment. It is flipping the thinking and ultimately putting the consumer and the consumer experience first.

This is the first time I have written such a piece, but I can guarantee a lot more to come on the subject.

I hope you enjoyed it, send me some comments and let me know.

*This post is written by entertainment entrepreneur Shaun Duvet, it first appeared on his LinkedIn profile here.

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