Rock in Rio taps Cohn & Wolfe for first US festival

The Rock in Rio music festival has selected Cohn & Wolfe to support its first US event next year.

Rock in Rio, Brazil
Rock in Rio, Brazil

LAS VEGAS: The Rock in Rio music festival has selected Cohn & Wolfe to support marketing and communications for its first US event in Las Vegas next year.

Cohn & Wolfe, which began working on the account in March, is tasked with raising awareness of the festival, which will take place May 8-9 and May 15-16, 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip. Event organizers expect more than 300,000 people to attend.

The firm won the business through a referral from a relationship between parent company WPP Group and SFX Entertainment, which acquired a 50% stake in the festival last year, said Rock in Rio EVP Roberta Medina.

The event’s US marketing budget, including PR, advertising, social media, digital, and promotions, is about $30 million, she said. The contract on the account runs through June 2015.

With a team of staffers working across the New York and Los Angeles offices, Cohn & Wolfe is handling PR, social media, event marketing, and brand strategy for Rock in Rio. The agency is collaborating with Brazil-based Approach Communications, which has partnered with Rock in Rio for many years and is working on its event in Brazil next year, said Jim Joseph, North American president of Cohn & Wolfe.

Cohn & Wolfe is negotiating with some media partners to create paid advertising prior to the concert, Joseph said. The firm will also help launch a special event in Times Square in July and develop promotional activities with sponsors and partners such as iHeart Radio and MGM.

"It’s truly an integrated campaign, but it is being completely led by PR," Joseph said.

The 29-year-old festival has previously held events in Brazil, Portugal, and Spain. It faces a communications challenge because although its name is Rock in Rio, the concert includes many music genres beyond rock, Medina explained.

While Rock in Rio does not release the lineup for shows until closer to the event, past performances have included Bon Jovi, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, David Guetta, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Shakira, and Justin Timberlake.

Cohn & Wolfe must also explain to consumers that the festival is a "full experience" with a village that offers culture, food, drinks, and shopping, said Medina. Rock in Rio’s target demographic is different from other large music festivals, which tend to attract groups of friends, because it is more of a "family affair," Joseph added.

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