Sundance Festival: Film, music and brands

The iconic Sundance Film Festival is to debut in London in April, fusing a heady cultural mix of music and celluloid. A clutch of 14 fiercely independent films (such as 'Filly Brown', pictured) will all be netting their UK premiers, accompanied by an eclectic mix of music from the likes of Placebo, Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird.

The big question now is just which brands will step up to strike some form of alignment with the world's premiere showcase for independent cinema? So far news is scant, save for the obvious inclusion of the venue, the O2, and a sponsor partnership with the Langham Hotel.

Brand association with Sundance proper - the big all-singing indie event in Park City, Utah - is well established; with one reporter from the New York Times reportedly on the receiving end of around 260 unsolicited press releases from companies looking to align with the niche festival.

Corporate activity at the core Sundance festival, held in January, ranged from official sponsors, to party hosts and a number of fringe campaigns. Brands gracing the independent red carpet in some form or other included Hewlett Packard, Acura, Canon, L'Oréal Paris, Timberland, Puma, Adobe, Chase, General Electric, Sprint, Yahoo, Bertolli, Brita, Superdry, Grey Goose, Time Warner, Hilton Hotels, Bing, Sorrell, Tic Tacs, Stella Artois, Skullcandy and Voli Light Vodka... to name but a handful…

Here’s some of our favourites…


The Microsoft owned search engine hosted the Bing Bar, an invite only event space featuring the ‘speaker series’, providing intimate access to independent film makers, award-winning actors and musicians. A partnership with Spin saw the venue playing host to a variety of live music sessions from the likes of The Cool Kids, Jason Mraz, Theophilus London, Grouplove and Cobra Starship. This broad range of content was livestreamed via the Bing Facebook page taking the Sundance experience well beyond the limits of its Utah base.


Timberland, the Official Footwear and Outerwear Sponsor for a 4th year, positioned its Facebook promotion directly at female customers with the ‘Girlfriend Getaway Sweepstakes’; a chance to win an all-expense paid trip for four to the opening weekend of Sundance by uploading photos of their “mountain chic style”. The brand also staged Film Festival Style Night Out events across various US cities in the run up to the festival, promoting the competition. On the ground activity included the Timberland Green Scene space in Park City, where the brand focused on its Earthkeepers collection with a variety of competitions and Twitter activity that helped to promote its eco messaging, including free taxi rides for festival attendees in exchange for their 'Earthkeepers confessions'.


Grey Goose Vodka debuted an exclusive preview of its new Cherry Noir vodka during Sundance at its invite-only ‘Blue Door’ party hub for the festival elite. A multitude of international celebrities passed through the Blue Door (from Richard Gere to Kirsten Dunst) sampling cocktails, having themselves snapped at the InStyle magazine portrait studio and listening to music from Sundance festival favourite DJ Spider. The venue played host to a raft of press interviews, intimate dinners and after parties celebrating the most buzzed about screenings.


Sorel was once again looking to oust Timberland at the indie film showcase. Last year the Oregon footwear company debuted a clever augmented reality campaign, and this year a collaboration with VEVO offered up a onsite Laser Bar where visitors could customise plates for their new boots as well as relax with a drink. This naturally delivered plenty of celeb photo ops, such as Natasha Beddingfield (pictured), Liv Tyler and Isla fisher. The brand also sought to target non-attendees via social media with a number of Facebook initiatives, including the 'Decked Out and Laced Up' promotion, whereby people could win boots engraved with custom messages, and a tie up with fashion website Polyvore on a ‘Sundance look’ creation competition.

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