Festivals provide an opportunity for brands to let their hair down

Fast-forward to today and festivals’ worth, relevance and future are often brought into question. For brands that want to collaborate with festivals, this poses some issues.

Lucy Montgomery, Amplify

Business Director



Our long love affair with festivals started not in the 60s but in the 5th century with our pagan ancestors so it’s no surprise that Brits have a strong urge to roll around in the mud under the moonlight. But fast-forward to today and festivals’ worth, relevance and future are often brought into question. For brands that want to collaborate with festivals, this poses some issues.

One of the biggest challenges is the downturn of hedonism. Younger audiences have been accused of being a beige and boring bunch. However this lack of appetite to get wasted hasn’t meant that young people are less likely to attend festivals: they’re just not as tanked as their predecessors. But when you look at how abstemious festivalgoers are targeted, it’s clear that too many brands still design experiences for the ‘trollied’.

In addition, the festivals circuit is often criticised for being so over-saturated that it’s no longer desirable. But because the UK has a hugely diverse festival scene, audiences now have more choice than ever. From Ghostfest’s extreme metal, to Foreverland’s garage and bass and the Pop Punk Pile Up, every musical tribe is catered for.

Festivals can provide unrivalled opportunities for niche marketing. And as for their popularity, last year 3.5-million people attended UK festivals and the market is worth an estimated £2bn. Our love affair with festivals isn’t waning, it’s just evolving. And brands need to evolve with the audience. But how?

One common mistake is prioritising stand-out over experience. If you’re not adding anything meaningful to the vibe, you shouldn’t be there. To make sure you’re adding to the culture, rather than leeching from it, ask yourself, how can you add to the festival’s overall ethos? Where do your brand’s values match up to the festival’s? How can you co-create and collaborate both with the festival and its audience? And should you be doing a festival at all? Sometimes there are more effective ways to deliver the same result.

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festival-goers saw the experience
millennials sampled the hero serve

Southern Comfort

Festivals are a place where brands can let their hair down, mimicking the way the audience temporarily breaks free. This thinking helped us conceptualise Southern Comfort’s ‘Tan Your Lemonade’ experience at Boardmasters and Bestival, a crazy golf inspired experience where each hole brought to life a different aspect of Southern Comfort and the best way to serve it.

Millennials loved Southern Comfort’s unconventional ‘Whatever’s Comfortable’ campaign, but the concept was not translating into UK sales. There was general confusion about how to drink the brand and a lack of clarity around occasion.

Amplify was brought on board as the lead BTL agency to drive trial and sale rates amongst social 18 to 24-year-olds. We spent time getting under the audience’s skin, even going pre-gaming with target consumers to understand their purchase decisions and motivators. 

Our research showed the target audience did not know HOW, WHY or WHEN to drink Southern Comfort, but they loved the taste when they actually tried it. We identified a need to create a clear hero bar call, as well as finding interactive ways to bring to life the brand’s unique and irreverent tone, something that resonated so well with the audience.

We developed a summer comms strategy centred around one hero serve, Southern Comfort, lemonade and fresh lime, along with standout branded glassware to create cut-through at the bar and land the brand’s premium feel. That tackled the HOW. Next up, the WHY and WHEN.

Amplify’s research showed the target audience like to socialise in their ‘tribes’ and that their drink choices were often influenced and determined by the group. We also identified the warm-up mind-set as a complimentary occasion to enjoy the hero serve.

Armed with these insights, we created the ‘Tan Your Lemonade’ brand experience, inviting millennials to try and buy Southern Comfort, lemonade & lime while enjoying memorable experiences with friends, courtesy of Southern Comfort, throughout the summer.

In keeping with the brand’s irreverent tone, we created a crazy golf inspired festival experience, ‘The 19th Hole’. Each hole brought to life a different aspect of the serve. Consumers were invited to buy a drink at the bar where they were given a token to play a round of golf in their group and enjoy a warm-up playlist curated by our DJ. ‘Sun’s Out, Fun’s Out’ golf visors were gifted to each player to create festival buzz. Visors also doubled as free gifts with on-trade purchases.  

‘The 19th Hole’ created much awareness and excitement at both Boardmasters and Bestival, where 95,000 festival-goers had the opportunity to see the experience and play a round; 21,000 millennials sampled the hero serve and 14,000 went on to buy a Southern Comfort, lemonade & lime at the bar. And with half-a-million social impressions, the highly shareable quirky experience, and free visors, helped generate significant online buzz.

‘The 19th Hole’ was a fun, smart and authentic way to bring millennials together in their tribes, whilst reinforcing the Southern Comfort drinking occasion. HOW, WHY and WHEN all ticked.  

Amplify, London
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Lavazza’s Dolce Vita experience

This festival-enabled, free-expression and sharp targeting is also evident in Lavazza’s Dolce Vita experience. To reach younger audiences, Amplify created a culturally-rich Lavazza world showing the brand as a lifestyle choice. The tourable brand space showcased products whilst providing coffee and food workshops with Hix, Green & Blacks and Oatly. Gastronomy creds were further boosted through after-dinner coffees with Gizzi Erskine and Raymond Blanc. The experience was supported by a Prontissimo sampling tricycle.

Amplify, London
Guest Author

Lucy Montgomery, Amplify

Business Director


Lucy boasts over 15 years of experience in integrated marketing. With a second-to-none understanding of FMCG and entertainment brands, she’s worked on festival experiences for brands including Southern Comfort, Lavazza, SoundCloud, Wagamama and PlayStation Music. When she’s not orchestrating large-scale productions, you’ll find her with her surfboard under her arm, eyes on the next big wave.

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