What marketers can learn from Splendour in the Grass

Visa head of marketing Jac Phillips
By Visa head of marketing Jac Phillips | 31 July 2018
Jac Phillips

Recently I found myself standing in a parkland surrounded by 35,000 very happy individuals (the majority being under 25 years of age) who had all come together for three days of multi-sensory, centennial-millennial magic.

Welcome to my very first music festival. Welcome to Splendour in the Grass.

One cannot simply describe Splendour in one word, nor really in one sentence. To say it was awesome just makes it another cliche because nobody could have prepared me for what I would see, hear or experience. And to that person who once said “today we are overwhelmed with data and underwhelmed with experience” you clearly haven’t been to Splendour. This is experiential on a whole new kick-ass level. It was mind-blowing.

As a marketer whose been around awhile and therefore seen a number of trends arrive and leave, attending Splendour was personally necessary for a few reasons:

  • I am no longer the target audience my organisation is marketing to and I am very conscious of that fact every single day #howrelevant?
  • I am not cool, nor do I have my finger on all pulses of popular culture - even though I might like to think I am “so onto it” #notindenial
  • The best education comes from experience, and immersing yourself in an event is the only way to be informed, especially if you think you’ll feel out of place #awkwardisok
  • If I am not curious and learning every single day then I can’t possibly call myself an effective Marketer #sensecheck
  • So what did I learn from my anthropological study of young Aussies at Splendour? Apart from glitter being the order of the day (and festivalisation in Australia is a $1.7 billion industry) so there’s plenty of sparkle to sprinkle!

Here's what I learnt:

1. Brands should be free to experiment with new formats, new mediums and new experiences. This means having some courage to try something different. As Andrew Gilham of Diageo said: “If you’re not passionate about it, the kids will sort you out before you even set your activation up!”

2. When it comes to showing up in the lives of younger Australians, we need to be adding value and ultimately enhancing their festival experience vs selling them stuff. Some key feedback I received from 22 year old Lilli when we asked her what she wants from brands today - “Compliment me, reward me, teach me”.

3. You don’t need to go it alone, in fact you really shouldn’t unless you have Centennials in your team or at least informing your strategy. Instead, work with the festival or experience organisers to brainstorm the value your brand can offer and forget trying to shove a product sale KPI in your measure of success. As the fabulous Nicole Lembke, Splendour’s head of partnerships said to me “what’s changed is not the appetite for great music, but this generation’s expectation of innovation”.

4. “It’s no longer surprise and delight it’s come at me," said James McManus of Pedestrian TV. We’re all here for the culture - cultivate and nurture. Splendour has cultivated the experience over 17 years so the brands need to nurture their audiences.

Ultimately it’s all about empower and inspire. While your customers may know about your brand today through general awareness, their practical experience of your brand is probably shaped by the channel you deliver it to them – shake it up a lot and allow your brand to show up in an unconventional way, via a unique channel or property they’re not expecting.

Just remember the three C’s and you’ll be off to a good start if you want to appeal to those under the age of 30 - creativity, colour and curation.

Oh, and adding in a fourth one probably wouldn’t hurt either… Cocktail!

By Visa head of marketing Jac Phillips

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