I went along to the Kentish Town Forum for the UK Festival Conference - its been a long week and it's cold, so cold inside - it's a long way from the sunshine of last summer. I've been invited to be on a panel entitled Pedal to the Medal where we're going to be talking about the feared David and Goliath showdown between festivals and the Olympics for sponsorship dollar next year. Will sports sponsorship grab an even larger share of sponsorship or can music ride the cultural and feel good wave of Olympic fever and find a role among all that exercise and sporting achievement?
I was in the pleasurable company of Karen Earl of Synergy, Andy Westlake of Fasttrack and an unusually humble Gareth Cooper founder of Snowbombing. Essentially the debate concluded that sport and music could be perfect bed-fellows as illustrated by the success of events such as Snowbombing and F1 Rocks and that the focus on a sporting event provided as many opportunities as it does threats.
2012 is going to offer an unique feel good summer creating a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage a switched on, motivated and up for it audience. The Olympics is about so much more than the 100m and the shot putt, it's about pride, passion, hope, success and a chance to showcase the cultural tastes of a nation - all characteristics that many many brands seek to harness when describing themselves and defining their objectives so this is an opportunity that is not to be ignored.
Karen eloquently made the point that engagement is key to any sponsorship success no matter which sector is selected and that an appropriate of marriage of music and sport could amplify and extend return on investment using the trend for race course concerts as a illustrative example - very clever.
I argued that the best way for a festival to ensure that it wasn't lost in the scrum of olympic fever is to closely define exactly what it's stance on the Olympics is - does it embrace the sporting fever by incorporating a relevant theme to its marketing and presentation or does it become the no-sport zone for those seeking to get away from the scrum. Either is fine and well executed would be attractive to potential sponsors.
Andy said that although the key Olympic sponsors are locked and loaded into the Olympics the well enforced category exclusivity will ensure that not everyone can pile in with similar propositions so alternative sponsorships will still be sought, effectively the festival gates are still wide open.
The key take out is to embrace the opportunity, know who/ what you are and make the most of a sports / music hybrid opportunity to reach audiences that are both receptive and inspired.
One last request to the organisers - please can you turn the heating on next year.