CAMPAIGNS: Festival sells out tickets in record time - Events Pr

Client: V Festival PR team: Cake Campaign: V Festival Timescale: February-August 2003 Budget: £40,000

Since the first V96 Festival, the 'V' concerts have become a regular feature of the summer festival calendar, attracting large crowds and top bands.

The weekend concerts are held at Weston Park, Staffordshire and Hylands Park, Chelmsford in Essex, and this year's artists included Coldplay, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Feeder and David Gray.

However, the festival's naming convention - the letter V and the last two digits of the respective years - meant the title of the event had to change every year. The organisers believed this was too clumsy and decided to change the name.

Objectives

To achieve a sell-out audience within 90 days of the 3 March launch.

To publicise the festival and to push the change of name in the media.

To indirectly promote the Virgin brand name for the main sponsors of the event, Virgin Mobile.

Strategy and Plan

Cake wanted to achieve fast recognition of the festival and the change of the name. Bearing in mind not everyone who saw or listened to publicity would attend, the strategy was summed up by the slogan 'not everyone will go but everyone will know'.

The initial strategy was to plant rumours of bands that would be playing at the festival in key weekly titles and across music websites.

Once the first artists were confirmed, Cake began the sell-in, targeting national, consumer and regional press - in particular those local papers and broadcasters close to the two venues. Ticket and website information was heavily pushed.

Style magazines, glossies and fashion monthlies were also targeted to supplement the music details of the event. As new bands were confirmed, the PR team drip-fed the information to the media through regular press releases.

In addition, Cake organised interviews with artists through more than 40 record companies and competitions for merchandise, key facts and figures about the festival and online information were also offered.

As the festival was adopting a permanent name change - as opposed to an annual change - Cake developed a new logo that was promoted to trade and marketing outlets. The campaign also heavily used Virgin Radio in the run-up to the festival.

In April, Cake spoke to the promoters, sponsors and ITV about TV coverage of the festival. This resulted in a live broadcast on ITV2 and a network repeat on ITV1, with Virgin Mobile and producer Fired Up becoming involved.

Measurement and Evaluation

Widespread coverage was secured before and after the event on 16 and 17 August. Key previews and listings included The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Times, NME, Time Out, Heat, Q, Loaded and Arena.

Extensive regional coverage included The Express & Star, Birmingham Evening Mail, East Anglian Daily Times, Essex Chronicle and The Shropshire Star.

BBC Online, Virtual Festivals and NME.com also gave online coverage.

Full-page post-event coverage was obtained in the Daily Mirror, The Sun, the Daily Star and the Sport, as well as extensive broadcast coverage on Virgin Radio, Radio 1, Radio Essex, Radio Shropshire, BBC Radio Staffordshire, ITV Central News, London Tonight, BBC Midlands Today, MTV, Liquid News and Xfm.

The TV broadcast resulted in coverage in the high-circulation TV listings guides including the Guardian Guide, TV & Satellite Week, The Times Play, OK, Time Out and the Radio Times. The broadcast on ITV2 gave the festival a 25 per cent audience share for the live broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday.

The ITV 1 highlights shows added to a total UK viewership of around three million - four times up on last year.

Results

The two-venue festival sold out in 77 days - well within the target 90 days, and despite minimal paid-for advertising.

A V Festival e-clip was sent to over 15,000 people, and the micro-site received 81,625 hits on the day of the send out.

Darryl Webber, editor of the Essex Chronicle's Go leisure section, said the pre-festival PR campaign was good.

'Cake was helpful, sending regular e-mail press releases, although sometimes they came too late. We go to press on a Monday, and the agency was sending some releases on a Tuesday morning, but generally they were good.

'People also kept calling it V2003. Maybe it will take a couple of years for that to change,' Webber added.

Time Out deputy music editor Chris Salmon agreed, saying he believes it will be a few years before people stop calling it V2003, V2004. He attended the Staffordshire festival and commended the organisation both before and during the concert. 'It's a very slick event, they know what they're doing,' he said.

Cake is still evaluating the change of name policy and won't know for a few months how much of the media coverage referred to the event by its new brand title.

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