Big Day Out about marketing, not music

By Simon Hendery

If you thought the Big Day Out was about music, you were wrong.

The BDO is really a youth marketing orgy and the kids are lapping it up.

Research by consultancy 18 Ltd has found brand advertising at the annual event is growing year-by-year.

And rather than being irritated by the intense commercialisation of the event, concert goers have welcomed it.

Youth-focused brands spend up large to promote themselves at the day-long January festival at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium.

Their gimmicks and tricks are becoming more "interactive", a tactic 18 says has gone down well with the crowds.

Examples at this year's BDO included Fruju's "Vibe Slide": a water ride that proved a popular and cooling distraction for many of the 35,000 overheated revellers.

Durex also made its mark, handing out numbered necklaces that offered a prize incentive to guys and girls who found someone of the opposite sex sporting the same number.

"[The promotions are] cool, it gives you something to do when there's nothing playing. Also you get heaps of free stuff!" one BDO concert goer said on 18's survey website, 18Tracker.com.

"Yeah it's cool, but there should be some guide letting you know the stuff that's there ... like I sooooo missed some of the good ones!" said another.

But is this effective branding or just an opportunity for greedy, fickle youths to grab as many freebies as they can?

A post-BDO online survey by 18Tracker.com shows the Fruju slide certainly resulted in brand recall. Fruju topped the survey's "cool scale" with 49 per cent of respondents saying the brand was the "pinnacle of cool" at the event.

At the other end of the scale, Duracell, which brought dancing bunnies and a giant inflatable battery to the event, won 18's wooden spoon award.

Duracell "did not demonstrate why they were at the BDO", 18 said. Only 2 per cent of its survey respondents rated the battery company the pinnacle of cool.

"All the brands that were there had the potential, but some just stood out on the day, maybe the more colourful ones, the more interactive ones," said Richard Griffiths, 18's research and insights manager.

He said as the brand marketing push at the event became stronger year-after-year, the crowd's reaction remained favourable provided the company marketing was around youth-orientated brands and new products.

Music TV channel C4 topped a survey of brands that made the biggest impact at the event, even though its presence at the BDO didn't involve some of the more "radical" strategies used by other advertisers, Griffiths said.

"When C4 first came out some people said New Zealand's tried to have music television before and it hasn't gone too well," he said.

"But it's got that fun youthful zeal with the young presenters and it feels really now, it feels really contemporary and they just keep building onthat without doing anything too radical."

 

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