The ABC of engaging Millennials through sponsorship

There’s a lot of rhetoric about how brands should be targeting Millennials, but I’m interested in what we are genuinely learning about engaging this audience. As Millennials (those born after 1980 – the first generation to come of age in the new millennium) evolve, so are our methods of marketing to them. In the sponsorship sector, this presents huge opportunities to be more creative and execute across platforms.

The market that has successfully created a format for brands wanting to reach the elusive Millennial audience is the Music Festivals market. Last year IEG estimated $1.34 billion would be spent sponsoring music venues and tours; and specialist music agency, Frukt, states that 447 brands played a role in 300 music festivals worldwide.

So what can other rights holders learn from music festivals as to how to engage Millenials through sponsorship? Here’s my ABC of engaging Millennials:


The brand needs to fit the event, platform or opportunity. Millennials are savvy and understand brands at a level that many other audiences don’t. The brand purpose needs to be evident and genuine. The Hunter Welly Exchange at Glastonbury, two years ago, is an obvious fit. However, even less obvious brands can engage Millennials if they have an authentic reason to connect.

Beyond the platform

The brand’s message or theme needs to extend beyond the sponsorship itself. Quite often this will be across digital platforms, particularly social media, in keeping with our digitally native audience. When Red Bull sponsored the main stage at Lollapalooza, providing festival goers with energy drinks, it also hosted a dedicated music festival site, blogging about concerts and festivals. This reinforces the brand’s authenticity.

Connecting through experience

Even the most amateur of psychologists knows that we are more likely to remember something if we experience it. Creating an experience enhances the personal touch that translates into loyalty in brand terms. Garnier Fructis handed out shampoo and conditioner at Bonnaroo, and festival goers could even have their hair washed in the Garnier tent.

Any rights holders targeting Millennials can learn from what is already happening in this part of our industry. Yes, the platform might not be as exciting as a music festival, but the principles of engagement are the same.

Get creative, but be authentic – help them, inspire them and make them happy!