Monster power

Listen to this article

Monster Energy targeted bike fans at the Isle of Man TT races – just one in a long line of events pinpointed by the brand. Gorilla Marketing orchestrated Monster’s strategy. Stand Out visited the island to witness first-hand the energy drinks attitude to events and witness how it gets its’ message…

The dictionary defines a roadshow as a company making a presentation to potential customers, enticing them to buy, or an occasion that attracts publicity and attention when touring or visiting an area. Enter Monster Energy, and it’s hard to see how the drinks giant could fail to attract publicity. Isle of Man TT races is just one of the international sporting and music events identified by the brand. And bike fans love it.

Gorilla Marketing and Events work with Monster Energy to deliver its events at various locations, and as you approach the Harris Promenade in Douglas there’s an element of “the circus has come to town” when you see the spectacle about to be created for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Around 3,000 bike fans, many in Monster-branded clothing, have taken root against a line of barriers, jostling for the best spot in front of the Monster Energy Watchtower and stage. Kerrang DJ, Christian Stevenson is MC for the night – he’s not spoken all day to preserve his voice just so that he can whip up the crowd and ramp up escalating levels of enthusiasm.

Four Monster promo girls are egging on the crowds, distributing Monster merchandise, stickers and goody bags, to the loudest members. But that’s not really what they’ve come for.

The promenade is the scene of TT Mayhem fuelled by Monster Energy – a week-long series of stunt shows and activities that demonstrate Monster’s commitment to brand activation on the island during TT week. Every night, an audience gathers to watch a range of  “don’t try this at home” stunts performed by some of the leading extreme riders in their field.

Years ago when the Isle of Man Government opted to drop all evening activity at the prom location there was uproar – since then, evening entertainment, stunt shows and brand presence has been imperative, adding to the atmosphere as punters seek out more two-wheeled action in amongst the beer tents and fun fair.

Stretch the imagination

Andy Butts, managing director, Gorilla Marketing and Events, is overseeing tonight’s event. A road closure is in place, allowing Gorilla to commandeer a 100-metre stretch of prime seafront, at all times keeping a watchful eye on the weather, as wind and rain only add to the risk. A mini freestyle motocross (FMX) ramp, a large FMX ramp and the Globe of Steel are put into position, opposite a branded watchtower and stage. Two Fonix LED screens are showing TT footage to the waiting crowd, and Analogue Live Productions is handling all sound requirements. Right, show time.

Stunts and stunned

Stand Out is stood on a nearby veranda with Sian Christian, development manager, Motorsports Team, Department for Economic Development. Relentless sponsored the race last year yet Butts has been liaising with Christian and her team since late 2010, working up a series of ideas that have culminated in tonight’s TT Mayhem fuelled by Monster Energy performance.

Infernal Varanne, a freestyle motocross stunt team, is entertaining crowds – performing tricks on the mini ramp and stunts within the Globe of Steel. Two Monster FMX riders are also jumping 40-feet into the air yet the wind is so strong it’s deemed too dangerous to perform the really big tricks.

Extremely detailed weather information is essential to Butts and his team – a crew of eight including safety officer Rick Bate. Daily debriefs with the Government at 11am and team debriefs at 12pm allow for discussion and last minute tweaks. The weather reports are vital if the riders are to jump with the wind impacting on the stunts performed, and even putting an end to the show.

“This is the beginning of a two-year contract, and so for 2011 we’ve drastically improved the show with an MC, additional camera points and permanent PA and screens,” explains Butts.

“Every night we need to position the ramps and make the site safe. When the racing is on, the promenade is the main route for traffic and so we cannot close the road and set up until the racetrack reopens. Instead of pushing PA and screens onto the road each night, they are permanently positioned, improving the view for the audience.”

Butts has pulled together the show – for seven nights, bike fans will get two opportunities a night to witness bike tricks from FMX riders, RAF White Helmets, Infernal Varanne and The Purple Helmets.

Butts continues: “I know what Monster want as I’ve worked with them for the last three years but I still receive a brief from the Government and Monster too. The White Helmets, The Purple Helmets and the Red Arrows are appearing at the request of the Government and so I have to facilitate them and incorporate them into the stunt show, co-ordinating the camera crew so we capture the action on the big screens.”

Strike a chord

Gorilla’s creative director, Nic Tuft is show caller. The road is closed at 7pm and Gorilla has one hour and 30 minutes to set up. The first performance is at 8.30pm but the show is designed to be flexible should the day’s racing alter road closures. In total, the evening runs for one hour and 56 minutes. A two and a half day build has been necessary to create the overall spectacle and Gorilla’s involvement has given Butts an opportunity to develop future plans. He is currently creating a stunt show that will support sporting events and festivals and hopes to take it on the road next year for a 13-16-week tour. But for now there’s Monster Energy and 3,000 fans who have turned out for two-wheeled madness.

Explains Jimmy Goodrich, European communications manager, Monster Energy: “The activation around the Isle of Man TT is an important one for Monster Energy as we feel so integrated into the event as a whole. From our side we believe that we have a role to play to make sure the fans get as broad a TT experience as possible, hence why we have stepped up our involvement in the entertainment on the prom. TT Mayhem as we’ve called it gets the international treatment this year with FMX greats Edgar Torronteras and Andre Villa for example. It’s also important that the TT is one of the most inclusive events we see in Europe: the fans are in many ways as big a part of this festival as the riders themselves. That really strikes a chord for us.”

Goodrich argues that the “one-size fits all approach” does not fit with the brand when it comes to event involvement. The Globe of Steel, for example, last toured over a year ago, giving way for wild imaginations to create new possibilities for the brand as it tours events across Europe this year.

“The bottom line is we ask ourselves firstly: ‘will the fans have a great time?’ and ‘how can we make sure we add value to the event’,” Goodrich concludes.