Moving on

Susan Finnegan is Liverpool City Council’s senior events manager. She’s been working on Liverpool HUB for seven years now, developing the youth festival into the spectacle we see today that attracts hoards of urbanites to the city. Every year, she commissions an economic impact research study, and the findings are priceless.

Marketing an event to an impressionable audience that ranges from 14to25isnoeasyfeat–withitcomes the issues of managing the expectations of young adults and teens. But a love of action sports and music gels the two demographics, and so research from the 2010 event has resulted in greater collaboration. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the event’s main stage offer needed to be bolstered. As a result, HUB is to partner with Liverpool Sound City, a music festival that runs from May 19-21 – this joining of minds now means a branded Liverpool Sound City stage at HUB, which takes place in Otterspool Park from May 21-22. And according to Finnegan, the partnership raises the stakes.

“HUB festival has always been an excellent model of how the public and private sector can work together to maximise brand exposure and cross marketing opportunities. Bringing HUB together with a world-class music industry conference seemed a great way to help raise the profile of both events and enhance the main stage offer to appeal to a much wider audience. In addition, the festival is set to attract visitors from across the UK and Europe helping to boost the economic impact.”

The 2011 event sees some new additions: three new extreme gravity defying rides, an extended urban village, donated product for competition prizes, more entries into the international break dance competition and for the first time in the event’s history, it will be ticketed. Tickets start at £5, and Finnegan admits that working commercially for the first time has been quite nerve-wracking.

The events team is hoping 16,000 people will visit over the course of two- days, a figure that is hoped to be achieved with the use of city dressing, radio and poster campaigns, social networking platforms and fortnightly e-blasts.

Event Design Logistics, Adlib Audio, Event Solutions, King Ramps, Pyramid Electrical Services, Grant Event
Safety Management, Wangos Staging, Roustabout and L’s Kitchen have all been contracted to work on the event, and in order to maximise the main stage capacity, ground maintenance work is currently being carried out to fill uneven ground.

But has the recession affected the event in any way? Finnegan continued: “With the increase in numbers, our operational and infrastructure costs are increasing every year. Had we not introduced a ticket pricing structure, the event is not sustainable long-term. However, being a city council run event and given our audience demographic, we’re keen to ensure ticket price is kept to a minimal cost to ensure the event remains accessible.”

Audience participation

Like Finnegan, Ruth Terry, marketing director of Y Not Festival, also is mindful of discovering the new in a bid to attract an ever-evolving audience. Y Not graces the Peak District over the course of three days – August 5-7. Its’ roots are immersed in new music, and its increased popularity mirrors the rising interest in eclectic sounds and upcoming artistes.

Terry explains: “Starting off at just 500 people in 2006, the event doubled in size every year up to 4,000 people in 2009 where it stayed at the same capacity for 2010.

“For 2011, we’re growing 25 per cent and we’ve just booked the most incredible headliner. We’re adding a whole new area trying to improve even further on the success of the interactive workshops of 2010. The beach bar where you can make your own cocktails with professional cocktail waiters is also set to return.”

Y Not centres round three main stages, with 16-30-year-olds representing the bulk of the attendees. It’s this audience that Y Not’s Ralph Broadbent, founder, and Alex Dixon, operations, are relying on to make “informed” suggestions as to how to make the event better. This year, the festival welcomes a new area – the content of which is being decided entirely by the fans.

“2011 is looking to build on the success of 2010,” explains Terry. “Y Not has a unique formula that everyone keeps coming back year on year for. It’s all about tweaking things.”

Citing word of mouth as the best marketing medium, she also admits that it’s a long-term strategy and no quick fix to guarantee footfall. Social networking sites are also proving effective, and as the event gets bigger, Terry and the team will have no choice but to look at national marketing channels and not just localised channels.

License to thrill

Little London Fields is a small project in its second year – well, when we say small we really mean a potential audience of 30,000 over two days – June 4-5.

Laurence Daw, the event’s co-founder and managing director, describes the East London location as a “melting pot for emerging talent” with the perfect, local audience of cool, “creatives” ranging from 18 to 30. The 2011 event remains subject to license, and as Stand Out types planning meetings are currently ongoing with Hackney Borough Council. Compared to 2011, the event is growing, utilising the entire park and is hoping to attract an additional 7,500 attendees. Working with E1 Security and the Pitch Tent Company, Daw’s, along with co-founder and brother Alex Daw, has a £40,000 budget. So far, Little London Fields has gained sponsorship in the form of product from Red Bull and Brothers Cider, says Laurence Daw.

In contrast, a series of events that combine a love of locally-sourced food and classic films have been created. But its organisers are mindful not to turn off potential attendees with advertisements and garish plugs for product.

Picnic Film, the brainchild of Will Nash and James Bowles, will first take place at Blenheim Palace before continuing its journey across the UK, pitching up at other prestigious English Heritage sites. From May 6-8, the grounds of the Oxfordshire residence will host the inaugural spectacle. A 16m x 10m inflatable screen will show a classic film, modern classic and black and white classic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively, and it’s this model that is hoped to be rolled out. Bowles would not confirm exact locations yet both Scarborough Castle and Pendennis Castle have been offered up by English Heritage, as it realises the potential of the format – film fans can buy a ticket from Ticketmaster up to 48 hours before the event, drive to site, pick up their picnic hamper with locally-sourced food and settle on their allocated blanket to watch their chosen film. Film fans have the option to book either a two-person or four- person blanket and picnic experience or a VIP ticket, with prices starting from £59, and waitress service is also available.

“English Heritage has shown great interest,” explains Bowles. “They know that people who come to the event may think about making a day of it and visit the property too, or that the event will showcase the stately home, encouraging people to return. We are simply looking to create an event that we would enjoy.

“We’ve been sensible in the films that we’ve chosen to show, targeting an audience between 25-55 with the option to create family-friendly versions once the event’s been established. Picnic Film is designed to be a sophisticated evening, showing classic film in extraordinary  locations. And we’re conscious of our environmental path – our cutlery’s made from potato starch and our plates and cups are decompostable. The screen we use is inflatable so other than four marquee pegs it doesn’t damage the venue’s grounds and we have a commitment to the local community. We support local food producers so that people can buy the food in their hampers after the event, we are supporting the local economy and the stately home, and the local workforce.”

Nash and Bowles are currently touring the country, talking to local farmers and food producers, and it’ their ultimate aim to host a Picnic Film event in every county.