Shreyas Kulkarni

Zomato, Coca-Cola, BMW, McDonald’s… brands are hosting concerts more than ever

Will on-ground events do for brand marketers what viral ad campaigns did for them in the last decade?

Everybody loves a good concert. So do brands — their love, however, for these musical acts has grown deeper over the years. Brands today not only want to sponsor these concerts; they want to host and own them.

Zomato’s Feeding India concert in 2022 saw rapper Post Malone headline the event which included a bunch of national and international artistes.

Launched in 2019, the brand on its website describes the event as “an awareness concert and a step towards eradicating malnutrition in India.”

Beverage giant Coca-Cola kicked off its Coke is Cooking initiative in Kolkata last September. Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Fossils, Anupam Roy, Arko Mukherjee, and Coke Studio Bangla artistes, participated in the food and music celebratory event.

QSR biggie McDonald’s, after the UK and Ireland, brought the I’m Lovin It act in collaboration with MTV to India and had singer Harrdy Sandhu perform while automobile behemoth BMW, as part of its JoyTown event, had music artistes perform for the crowds along with other events from motoring to food treats.

Owning such intellectual property (IP) is the rage today because marketers, as per Sai Ganesh, have “real numbers to show and it becomes easier to justify the spends.” He is an independent marketing consultant and Dunzo’s former brand head.

Think tickets sold, registrations, and sale of bottles and packaged food, these are the kind of data points a brand can access at such events. Which kind of brands tend to hold such an IP depends on their nature.

Alcobev’s stage

Alcohol brands allocate a big chunk of their marketing spends to on-ground music events because of the complementary nature the two share. Bacardi NH7 Weekender anyone?

“For alcohol brands, this is strengthening the middle and the bottom of the marketing funnel because it is directly related to product consumption,” says Ganesh and if it is not directly related to product consumption “it is more of top of the funnel where you're able to get awareness.”

Also, because of laws prohibiting alcohol advertising on TV and the less-than-pristine nature of alcohol advertising on digital and OTTs, music events and concerts are alcohol brands’ best bet.

The reason alcobev brands do it is because “it is ownable and you can do exactly what you want the consumer to experience, build a first-hand connection you have with the consumer, and they eventually become your brand ambassadors,” reveals an experienced marketer from the alcobev industry.

Another reason why brands would prefer owning such an IP is because of its cost-effective nature. “You can spend 50 lakhs on an event like this or spend 10-15 crores on an IPL campaign,” states Ganesh.

And he also says this format is the best way to target the younger audience cohorts who do not watch TV and actively use ad blockers or subscribe to offerings which offer an ad-free digital experience.

One can expect more of such IPs to come forth in the coming years because it, in the long run, reduces the cost of consumer acquisition.

A legacy act?

Such an IP is, however, not a new out-of-the-box marketing strategy. “Brands have been associated with concerts, musical events, even theatre for decades,” says Lloyd Mathias, an angel investor, business strategist, and former vice-president, marketing, PepsiCo India

He recalls Pepsi which “had a three-pronged strategy for India – cricket, movies, and music.”  The beverage giant hosted a series of concerts featuring the likes of Ricky Martin, The Rolling Stones, and every big artiste from the 90s.

A major reason, as per Mathias, why brands love on-ground events is because they are seen as youthful and have a positive rub-off.

Being in an environment where people are having fun is crucial for a brand’s recall because consumers, who indulge in products at these events, remember the brand, remarks Mathias, and says that is why people still remember the ice cream or cola brand they had enjoyed at a circus during their childhood.

“Pepsi had Michael Jackson which means people would remember Pepsi when they’re listening to his song months after attending a Pepsi concert, he states.

Being remembered is also a factor why brands are more interested in hosting such events than just the metrics. Ganesh references Johnnie Walker in Africa where the whiskey brand used its 'Keep Walking' tagline to celebrate artists. Word of mouth plays a big influencer here for the brands.

It is similar to what Saurabh Uboweja, managing partner, BOD Consulting says about popular brands that are smart enough to leverage this opportunity, develop lasting IPs, and build a deep neural connection of their brand with joy, happiness, and excitement, the kind of positive emotions every popular brand desires to establish.

“Isn't that what the brands want? Your complete, undivided attention to their presence,” muses Uboweja.

Yes indeed.

We leave you with what Arnab Roy, VP, marketing, India and Southwest Asia told us less than 10 days ago during the launch of Coke Studio Bharat: "I think branded IPs... will go a long way in becoming ecosystems."

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