Sundance promotes indie talent, allows for brand activation

PARK CITY, UT: As the entertainment industry prepares to converge on the Sundance Film Festival January 21-31, the Sundance Institute is focused on the artists and programming.

PARK CITY, UT: As the entertainment industry prepares to converge on the Sundance Film Festival January 21-31, the Sundance Institute is focused on the artists and programming.

"For us, internally, our strategy is to make sure that people are highlighting our artists, and it isn't just the celebrities," said Brooks Addicott, associate director of media relations for the Sundance Institute. Her small internal team handles press and publicity year-round, adding on seasonal staff and volunteers for the festival.

It is also promoting its leadership: John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival, and Trevor Groth, who succeeded Cooper as director of programming for the festival. The duo, along with president Robert Redford, do interviews with various types of entertainment, arts and culture, travel, and business press.

The team also works with PR firms like mPRm, 42West, and PMK-BNC on publicizing individual films and promotional activities at Sundance. New elements this year, which are a focus for media outreach, include the Next program for low-to-no-budget films, and the Sundance Film Festival USA, which has special screenings and events nationwide on January 28.

"A large message we have and we want to remind people [is] that in addition to a good time, Sundance is actually an event that serves the purpose to keep artists at the table, keep creativity and art in the dialogue and national consciousness," Addicott said. "In terms of positioning and our support of independent artists on a year-round basis, we really like to tell that part of the story."

During the festival, the Sundance Institute will also use Twitter, with celebrity Twitterers, including Joan Rivers and Morgan Spurlock, as well as a press Twitter feed with news, changes, and updates from the event.

Meanwhile, brands and companies leverage the event to get the attention of influencers and press. PMK-BNC hosts the Village at the Yard, a hospitality site officially sanctioned by the Sundance Festival for the first time this year. Brands including Stella Artois, Honda, Sephora, Aveeno, and T-Mobile are using the it to host events and promotions.

"We recognized the need for a space to host different events and services to help support the festival," said Chris Robichaud, CEO at the newly merged PMK-BNC. The Village at the Yard is more than a swag suite, he added, noting that all brands have an element of giving back, whether it's Sephora and Aveeno offering makeup and hairstyle touch-ups for artists, or Honda showcasing their short film and the robot featured in it.

The "T-Mobile Diner" offers breakfast and lunch to visitors and allows them to test and use phones, including the latest myTouch products, which launched on January 20.

"It's a great platform to showcase our products and services," said Cassie Jenkins, senior manager of product promotion for T-Mobile. "There are a lot of people there who are very influential and it's consumer-facing as well, so it's a good fit with our brand."

T-Mobile is also giving cast members and artists the use of the new myTouch phone, customizing it with clips from featured films so they can use the phone to promote their work, Jenkins added.

"With so much clutter today, entertainment is a great passion point to reach consumers," Robichaud said. "[Village at the Yard] really allows brands to give back and be part of that community so they can build relationships with the talent and filmmakers."

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