Arati Rao
Jun 06, 2012

Double Standards: What do brands get from live music events?

Arati Rao quizzes a marketer and an event specialist on what brands get from associating with live music events, and whether such platforms are being used well

Double Standards: What do brands get from live music events?
Samar Singh Sheikhawat, SVP marketing, United Breweries and Navneeth Mohan, SVP and business head – India, E18

What value can involvement with live music events give a brand that association with other entertainment events or sports cannot?

SS: Interactivity, relaxation and fun.

NM: The shelf life of music is far longer than that of other forms of entertainment. How many times do you see an old cricket match and how many times in your life would you listen to a Michael Jackson song?

Specific to live music events, which delivers better for a brand - ownership of a property or association with it as sponsor?

SS: Depends on leveraging of the property. Ideally, ownership is preferred to sponsorship.

NM: Association always works if a brand is trying to drive its image or equity using the property as a platform. If a brand tries to create a property, all they are doing is a consumer engagement activity which can otherwise be done through ground promotions of any form. In India, a property makes commercial sense only when multiple brands come on board to share the cost. When it comes to brand-owned properties it might be difficult to get associate sponsors. By association, I mean a mid to long-term one to unlock the complete value. The mistake brands usually make is associating with a property for just a year.

Are brands in India realising the potential of large-format live music events? Or are they still considered properties that come with obstacles?

SS: There is potential, but it is certainly fraught with obstacles of a legal and commercial nature.

NM: Over the last few years, we are seeing a resurgence. Things like entertainment tax structure and lack of audience-friendly venues are still issues that increase the cost making it difficult for brands to justify spends (and RoI). But we are seeing moves by bold brands to invest in such properties and they will benefit in the long run.

Is telecast reach (live or recorded) the biggest driver for sponsorship? If yes, what is the value of the on-ground engagement?

SS: Telecast is certainly the biggest driver, depending on what you do with TV. However, on ground engagement, if executed well, can be a much more personalised and interactive medium.

NM: Yes, in India it is. Currently that is the only measurement matrix people are willing to consider. The impact of a live music (or any other) event is far higher than that of watching it on TV. There are various live sponsorship measurement models available internationally, but India still runs back to the tried and tested way of measuring the event using TRPs.

How has social media added to the connect brands have with fans who attend concerts?

SS: Social media is part of a larger digital intervention, which is an imperative today, as a part of the overall marketing mix or as a standalone initiative.

NM: I feel the resurgence of live music events has to be attributed to social media. More artistes and brands are investing time, money on social media to develop a strong fan base. This becomes the image driver for any live event. Word of Mouth has always been the most powerful form of advertising.  Today fans are part owners of the property themselves and owners should constantly know the status or developments of their property, and social media is the best way to stay connected.

Are we seeing on-ground marketing innovations by brands associating with large-format live music events? Or is it more of the same?

SS: Yes, whether it is in terms of information broadcast amplification or gratification. Information broadcast amplification means the advertising and marketing surround around the event, and gratification means winning tickets, prizes, etc. to these events.

NM: I guess spends are being diverted to social media rather than on-ground. It is critical to create the right mix. Earlier, brands felt that on-air or print would drive the association, now the focus has shifted to social media, at least for youth-focussed large format live music events. There is nothing as powerful has one-on-one human interaction, hence the right mix of fan connect is essential to create the right impact.

Are brands also aligning with Indian bands for the long-term?

SS:  Not really. The same bands associate with different brands. There are very few exceptions.

NM: I don’t think India is still there yet, also I doubt there will be a trend where brands associate with Indian bands on a long term basis. It would be a far better strategy to align with music properties than individual bands. If brands are clear about strategies and objectives of associating with a band, I’m sure it will be an interesting model for the future.


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