More than 175,000 people are camped out in a field in the middle of Somerset. It is the start of the 40th anniversary of Glastonbury Festival, 'the biggest all-night party in the world', as the festival's spokesman dubs it. But among the revellers watching bands, and all too often battling the mud and rain, are a series of brands, charities, corporates and artists, attempting to engage the influential audience.
Major festivals have always generated their own media stories, such as the controversy over Jay Z's headline slot at Glastonbury in 2009. But with the recent explosion in the number of festivals, brands are becoming increasingly switched on to the benefits of taking part - and the risks of not having a presence.
'If a consumer brand is not at the festivals, it loses its relevance for 18- to 30-year-olds during the summer,' says John Doe Communications founder Rana Reeves. 'Festival are a huge gathering of core influencer consumers and a great exposure to youth culture. The mood shifts from city living to the countryside in May or June and only comes back in September,' he says.
For brands that get it right, there are huge benefits. 'It's very easy for brands to get goodwill from festival-goers if they do it right,' says Sony Computer Entertainment UK's senior PR manager Jonathan Fargher. 'If you have a good experience with a brand, hopefully you will tell your friends about it.'
But it does need to be done in the right way.
Glastonbury's director of sponsorship and marketing Robert Richards believes his festival's strict rules for brands create better engagement. 'Brands find a stronger connection with festival-goers, because they are not hitting people with logos,' he says. 'All sponsors must add to the experience.'
PRWeek talks to the major players at this year's Glastonbury to find out their tips for marketing success: