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Some brands just love being in Dire Straits

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | March 02, 2005
International live acts provide a coveted platform for big brands such as Nokia, Hutch, McDowell's and others


Consider this. Every time international musicians such as Enrique Iglesias, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, or Mark Knopfler perform in India, some 15,000 to 30,000 people swoon to that music. & #BANNER1 & # Many thousands more cannot actually make it to the concerts but are interested enough to follow every detail of the events. Little wonder that MNCs such as Nokia, Hutch, McDowell's, Hero Honda, Pepsi, MTV and others jostle for sponsoring the shows.

Clearly, live international acts are sweet music for the sponsoring corporates. DNA, the event management company, has thus made a killing out of organising live gigs (the company's estimated turnover is Rs 30 crore), including the forthcoming Knopfler show, where five big sponsors have been roped in.

DNA has signed up Nokia, Hutch, McDowell's, Hero Honda and Pepsi for annual sponsorship deals. DNA claims that "outside of ICC Cricket," it is the "only facilitating company that has been able to demonstrate the value of integrating big brands with mega international events." Signing up with DNA provides the MNCs a "seamless annual exposure of their brands and products at the events", the event management company claims.

The business of live events is a fairly attractive one, estimated to be around Rs 400 crore. About 60 per cent of the revenue comes from sponsorship, while 40 per cent comes through ticket sales. The Ravi Coltrane-Al Jarreau concert tickets at the Mumbai Festival, for instance, went for Rs 1,000, while fans have to shell out Rs 2,500 for the Knopfler show. The bulk of the audience, it's clear, belongs to the upper socio-economic groups, which are the principal TGs for the sponsoring corporates.

According to a DNA spokesperson, "The annual commitment of sponsors could vary between Rs 3 crore and Rs 5 crore, depending on the type of promotions and platforms of media that they wish to choose." This, he clarifies, is done on an annual basis and is not event-specific.

Each event, however, has one of the companies as the principal sponsor with others featuring as co-sponsors. Depending on the artiste and the venue, there is room for other players as well, including MTV, Universal, Indiatimes and others, who have their roles chalked out.

So while MTV airs promos for the event and telecasts the highlights on VH1, Indiatimes.com sells online tickets, and a Musicworld or Planet M lets you shake hands with your icon at selected outlets. Universal releases special edition CDs and everyone goes home happy.

Operating on a clutter-free platform which keeps out competition and ensures a dedicated audience works well for the brands. There is no conflict of interest in the well-orchestrated piece as everyone gets their share of eyeballs and moolah.

As an executive from one of the sponsors for the Mark Knopfler concert says, "Visibility for the brand is just a by-product. We stand to gain from the event-specific content that is generated and the buzz created around the event."

The buzz generated includes everything from contests and promotional offers to customized online and mobile content and road shows. The prizes include collectibles, CDs, free tickets and a meeting with the icons among other things.

Nokia, which has been associated with a number of these international acts, sees a perfect fit between "mobility and music". For the forthcoming Knopfler concert, it has created special 'Listening Posts' at select Nokia Priority Dealers (NPD) in Mumbai and Bangalore, and is giving away free tickets for its contest winners, besides freebies such as CDs and cassettes. Hutch is offering ringtones and wallpaper downloads besides trivia on the artiste.

Others such as McDowell see these events as a launch pad for brand building exercises. When Shaggy performed in the country last year, he also provided a platform for the Romanov vodka philosophy "I Vonamor everything."

According to a McDowell spokesperson, it marked the second phase of Vonamor Romanov campaign wherein the brand would be building 'larger than life experiential associations'. Romanov now is looking to develop various properties of interest to the younger generation - Vonamor Music, Vonamor Movies, Vonamor Success.

The aspirational value that the artistes carry blends perfectly with the brand proposition of a Nokia, or a Pepsi. In fact, Pepsi would like to take credit for ushering in the pop culture. A company spokesperson says, "Music has been an integral part of Pepsi's channel of communication with youth. In keeping with its commitment to bring music icons closer to fans in India, Pepsi has been instrumental in organizing live concerts with national and international artistes across various cities in the country."

With an overdose of advertising in cricket and television, live events and especially the 'imported' kinds are clearly the next destination for the aspirational brands. Besides the multinationals, the stage is set for regional brands to play their respective parts as well, inform DNA executives.

The company is also exploring other sponsor categories. "We will look at the automobile and FMCG sectors, which can be integrated into what we do," says the company. With the Finance Minister deciding to lower the entertainment tax, the music could well climb by a few more decibels.

Our take: Rock on!

2005 agencyfaqs!

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