PR Team: Cake
Campaign: V99 music festival
Timescale: March to mid-September 1999
The V99 festival was spread across two sites - in Chelmsford and in
Weston, near Stafford - over one weekend. A conglomerate of four
promoters, named Maztec, runs the event, pooling its resources to secure
one of the strongest line-ups in the festival calendar. Acts this year
included James Brown, Supergrass, Suede and Spice Girl Mel C. Following
two wet Glastonburys in a row and the demise of the Phoenix Festival,
Maztec employed Cake to counteract a general lack of enthusiasm in
festivals from public and press alike.
To secure pre-event coverage, look after all media on site, handle
crisis PR situations and ensure post-event coverage to maintain the
The brief also included countering accusations that V99 was too
commercial and allowed sponsors’ brands too much freedom.
Strategy and Plan
Cake initially exploited V99’s line-up, steering stories to various
genres of titles, including women’s and teen press, glossy style mags
and the travel and broadsheet press in addition to obvious music media
The support of local media was imperative to communicate the move of the
northern leg of the festival from Yorkshire in 1998 to
A site visit and question and answer session for local TV, radio and
press was arranged early on in the campaign.
Cake also promoted sponsors’ more low-key and constructive presence at
the event, such as Wella’s hair Rescue tent and Nintendo’s chill-out
The agency also arranged individual artist interviews on TV, radio and
in print and secured stories in the form of ’fascinating festival facts’
on numbers of burgers consumed, pints of beer drunk, number of toilet
rolls used and miles of fencing on site at V98.
Cake employed 32 staff over the weekend for the two sites, running the
guest and press check-in procedure as well as the press office and the
photography pits. The agency’s strengths were put to the test when the
group Placebo pulled out at the last minute. A replacement was found in
Kula Shaker. Unfortunately, their keyboard player went missing, but Cake
turned this to its advantage by arranging for an appeal to go out on
Radio One concerning the artist’s whereabouts.
With a similar announcement to PA News, Cake produced a last-minute
flurry of publicity on radio bulletins and in the weekend papers.
Measurement and Evaluation
Both V99 sites were sold out, with 120,000 festival-goers turning up.
The festival was also attended by 900 media representatives, 46 film
crews, 47 radio stations, 125 photographers and 400 journalists.
Cake secured three front covers for the event in the music press - two
on NME and one on Melody Maker. Coverage was also gained in nationals
including the Sun and the Daily Telegraph. Further reviews are also
expected to appear in the music press, with added exposure in the diary
pages of style titles including FHM, Harpers and Queen and OK!
Television coverage included spots on The Big Breakfast and Channel 5
News, among others.
Cake managed to counter claims of commercialism by promoting the fact
that although brand presence enabled strong line-ups, firms had to
contribute in a more tangible way, by providing support for better
facilities. The V99 festival sold out and Cake is confident that even
though ’V’ is only in its fourth year, the strength of media coverage
secured both before and after the event will ensure the brand’s
continued status as one of the UK’s leading music festivals, with an
attendance higher than Glastonbury.