One of the standout sessions from this year’s NOEA Convention was ‘The Brand Perspective’ delivered by Fuel’s David Akosim. David’s career in events includes looking after the Pepsi activation at the Champions League Final. David also has experience working with the NFL in a social media capacity. In a thought-provoking session, he shared his thoughts on how brands see the industry, their value, and what they need back from events.

An important area highlighted by David was how brands have moved beyond sampling at events. They’re looking to connect with the audience and their consumers, that can be via social media or including a QR code that takes you to their website and allows event goers to claim a free burger in exchange for data capture.

For brands it’s all about the demographic, try and understand the brand first and foremost. Once you have that then you can find the right events for them. For example, PepsiCo are targeting younger consumers so Fuel looks at festivals that attract a younger audience.

Another key consideration is that the event/ venue a brand chooses needs to have the infrastructure to cope with the demands of the activations. David shared his experience of the Wi-Fi going down for an hour at Wembley during the NFL. A disaster if the point of the activation is to create a buzz on social media. So, always try and understand the WiFi capabilities and find out what happens if it fails… Another major attraction for social media based activation, is that what happens on live TV is there and then, whereas what happens on social media lives much longer which for a brand is great.

There’s a shift in the type of events brands are engaging with, the pandemic allowed them to take a step back and question what they want to get out of them. A lot of brands do things because they think it’s the right thing to do. To get clear objectives and achieve them then you need real diversity. Whilst ESG and values are a priority for brands, unfortunately many are still at the tick box stage. As an industry we need to make sure there is also a legacy behind the activation. If brands aren’t pushing sustainability, then it’s not a brand that you want to be working with.

Looking ahead to the next five years, David feels that as the bigger festivals grow the more brands will want to be involved. The concern is that we will lose the smaller festival as few brands have a core specific demographic KPIs which weakens their appeal.

In reality brands care about what they can get back and that can be summed up in two key points - more eyeballs socially or growing investment!