A Bundle Of Advertising

AEG Live recently launched a marketing platform that is innovative, surprisingly simple and, according to the company, very successful. It’s a sponsor “package” that aligns brand names with the many AEG festivals.

“There were a number of sponsors that did one-off sponsorship deals with us.” AEG’s VP of global partnerships, Andrew Klein, told Pollstar. “They didn’t know AEG owned all these festivals … and they’d literally make five different phone calls. They’d call Coachella, then they’d call Mile High, then All Points West.”

So the answer was simple: take all these sponsors, like Toyota, AT&T, Pepsi, PlayStation and Major League Baseball, and package them to the festivals.
“It’s worked well this year. We’re up from ’08 to ’09 in sponsorship sales,” Klein said. “We’re packaging the festivals like a television network or a shopping network. In this case, we’re a festival network.”

AEG launched YourBrandsOurFans.com, where sponsors can check out details on all of the company’s festivals, from New Orleans Jazz Festival to Rothbury, and decide which ones fit them the best. No sponsor is involved with 100 percent of the festivals, Klein said, but there are cost efficiencies as the number climbs.
“The more festivals they sponsor, the better rates they get.”

Sony PlayStation, for instance, is involved with Coachella, Stagecoach, Mile High and All Points West.

“They have real estate at the event that helps to introduce games to our fans,” Klein said. “They also invite video-game press to these events as their guests to help create buzz for their games. There’s a number of new digital activities that we’re exploring with them that will live within the PlayStation network.”

Likewise, AT&T has an onsite computer café at fests like Coachella and Jazz Fest, and record retailer FYE hosts autograph sessions at Bumbershoot and Rock on the Range. The sponsorship deals usually are offsite as well, Klein noted, with branding at the festival Web sites, Facebook and MySpace, for instance.

One of the more unique sponsorships has to do with soap operas. ABC Daytime recently learned that 25 percent of soap opera fans are country music fans so, at this year’s Stagecoach Festival, several daytime stars will be on hand to introduce acts on the main stage and hold autograph sessions. As a quid pro quo, Stagecoach will get advertising time on ABC.

“[These sponsors] have the rights to opt out [of some festivals] but it’s much more the exception than the rule,” Klein said. “We’re not only renewing existing sponsors but we’re growing the relationships.”

AEG does have a distinct advantage over other major promoters in that the company is so strongly tied to so many festivals. Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin noted that LN, although it is not associated with festivals on the same degree, has several overarching sponsors like Citi and Starwood that get incorporated into the mix in other ways.

“Our platform is venues, access to the 10,000 shows we do,” Vlautin said. “Citi promotes our shows in their monthly bill. They’ll put Nickelback or Mary J. Blige in an ad. And we’ll incorporate a sponsor like Citi into venues, tickets, access to tickets – that’s the way we’re structured.”