After last year's "Best Summer Ever" sponsorship of OneRepublic's national summer tour, coconut spirits brand Malibu Rum is back at the beach, but this time with a deeper partnership with Live Nation, a festival focus, and some Dobros, harmonicas, slide guitars, mandolins and the occasional banjo.
The Pernod Ricard brand is on the road with Live Nation's Country Music Festival, a cross-country, multi-stage music tour that includes harmonic hullabaloos like Watershed at the Gorge, Faster Horses in Michigan, Route 91 Harvest in Las Vegas, and three new festivals for 2015 – Lake Shake in Chicago, Farmborough in New York, and Delaware Junction in Harrington, Del. The partnership makes Malibu Rum a sponsor of seven festivals and eight amphitheaters.
On top of the typical sponsorship activations, on the ground at each sponsored event there is a “Malibu Beach House,” incorporating a bar, balcony viewing area for a nearby Malibu Rum-sponsored stage, lounge, games, and generally what you'd expect of a beach house, minus the beach. There are also cocktail tastings, featuring things like Malibu Bay Breeze, the Malibu Tropical Margarita, and the Malibu Beach House.
Jeffrey Moran, VP of PR, events, and sponsorship from Pernod Richard tells Marketing Daily that this year's program is more about integration through a partnership with Live Nation and a bigger presence and more control of what it is doing at each show. "So instead of just sponsoring tours, we decided to go to Live Nation, whom we have had a relationship with, and we worked with them to add shows, and we looked at the geography of each concert.”
The program includes rights of a traditional music sponsorship, but with a revolving cadre of talent at festivals where Malibu Rum has its own program within a program, rather than being just one of many overall sponsors. “So the scope of our association with the talent is 15-fold what it was in the past, as well as on site on the ground throughout the course of the festival,” says Moran.
He adds that with something like the sponsorship of OneRepublic’s tour, Malibu Rum did use the band in ads, but within the concert environment, the relationship was pretty limited with signage, visibility, and content. “And you are limited by the venue and the fact that it's a tour passing through that facility.”
Malibu Rum is also running promotional contests with Live Nation that will, among other things, reward winners with entry to the VIP area of the beach house. There is also ongoing promotional video content to a web site, preceding concerts to drive ticket sales, content footage from the event itself through Live Nation and Malibu Rum's site, per Moran.
Says Moran, “Live Nation is really the key conduit for production and hospitality for each festival, and they are also serving as our activation agency. They really are the soup to nuts, and of course talent is Live Nation's secret sauce.”
The focus on country music is new, he adds. “We have always been in the pop genre; crossover country was a bit of a question, but our consumer has multi-dimensional taste; they are in their twenties, they continue to explore and experience new things, and music is the key.” He says that crossover country is also all-day music, and more laid back, which fits the brand better than rock. “There is both a country feel to it but also a hybrid pop piece. During the day it's easy going, then evening brings higher energy with the headliners. And it makes sense. It follows the progression of what the day is like.”
A Live Nation Festival Report shows that 53% of festival fans feel more favorable towards brands that sponsor music festivals and that 52% of festival fans felt that engaging with brands was a fun part of the festival experience. The company said over half of attendees say they have large social networks. And 68% of country fans Live Nation polled said “country music is a lifestyle.”