Monday, July 31, 2006

The Rise and Rise of Branded Festivals

Being a relative newbie to the festival circuit, having been to about 6 in my entire life, I'm hardly an expert to comment on the change in festivals over the last few years. Everyone talks abouts the commercialisation of festivals, with frequent articles about whether Glastonbury (the original and the best) has sold out. However, the more interesting question is whether the commercial festivals (aren't they all commercial? Artists need to make money after all!) are any good.

My first true camping experience was at V, and whilst it was a far better camping experience than Glastonbury (running water, nice toilets, hot showers) the total package experience was nowhere nearly as good. Of course the music is important, but so is everything else from, the beer to the food, and most of the commercial festivals forget about that. You tend to feel you are in a closed "buy what we tell you to buy" environment. Now whilst the V-Festival and O2 Wireless Festiva's might have started it, there are some new pretenders on the block from Fruitstock to Ben and Jerry's 'Sundae' and the interesting thing is they're all about the total experience.

Maybe it's because they're food brands, or maybe it's becuase they have very rounded emotional territories, but they really understand the experience. The Ben and Jerry's Sundae festival yesterday in Clapham was excellent. It was a family treat, with good bands, but importantly lots of other good things like free ice-cream, a little farm, face painting, toe wrestling, pimms, etc. etc. And although it was heavily branded and we all knew why, it still wasn't HEAVY SELLING, but NICE SELLING, and I suspect a lot of people will have left thinking Ben and Jerrys' are a pretty good bunch.

So I say bring on commercial festivals like this, because they've not forgotten the most important people there are the people and if they keep doing that then people will remember you and like you for it.

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