AEG Global Partnerships has strengthened its partnership with event production company LS Events to offer brands the opportunity to streamline processes and minimise sponsorship activation costs at its outdoor events. AEG Global Partnerships vice president Paul Samuels discusses the benefits of the initiative, and the impact of new tech on brand activations at festivals.

LS Events produces UK festivals on behalf of AEG including American Express presents BST Hyde Park and Uber One presents All Points East. AEG’s Paul Samuels says linking partners with the existing supply chain at its events reduces the investment required to get a partnership off the ground.

“A lot of brands have agencies that they want to use that may not be experienced in festivals,” he says. “The challenge of building activations at festivals is that it is not cheap and you’re building in a very tight window. There are significant benefits to having one agency that can coordinate everything. Building on a festival site is complicated and so having an expert and experienced partner that knows the intricacies of the site enables the creation of more turnkey solutions.

“At AEG, we are very focused on sustainability. If you’ve got five trucks coming to the site to deliver materials that is far from ideal. It makes much more sense, from both a sustainability and costs perspective, to only have one truck coming to the site to deliver everything.”

When it comes to brand-related technological developments at festivals, Samuels says the integration of AI-driven chatbot tech into AEG’s apps has proven hugely beneficial: “We’ve seen thousands of questions answered much quicker and more successfully. We can integrate partners into that and answer questions on their behalf to help drive traffic to their activations.

“It is all about adding value to the experience.”

“For example, a common question we get from attendees at festivals is ‘will there be drinking water on site?’ One of the activations that Amex does at BST Hyde Park involves providing customers with a free re-usable water bottle. Using AI, we can encourage Amex customers to collect a bottle or persuade non-customers to sign up to Amex and get one.”

While the buzz around non-fungible tokens (NFTs), has waned considerably, Samuels believes digital collectibles still have a part to play in brand activations at festivals.

He says, “People miss having a physical ticket, a tangible remembrance, we’ve seen a bit of it in the crypto world, but I think digital tokens and collectibles that the partners can offer as part of their activations will be something you’re going to see in the future. People want a token that proves they were there, something lasting and that is shareable on social media.”

Aside from encouraging customer interaction with brands on the ground, up on stage new tech is being used to bring brands closer to artists. Elton John’s BST Hyde Park show saw augmented reality (AR) used by Vodafone to provide a layer of additional content while he performed. Customers who had downloaded an Elton John X Vodafone app could point their smartphone cameras at the stage and view integrated AR material.

Says Samuels, “It is all about adding value to the experience, it might not completely change your day, sometimes it’s just something fun and different.”