In 1999, Nickelodeon and SFX Entertainment teamed up to produce All That Music & More, Nick’s first-ever concert festival for kids and families. Nick partnered with Johnson & Johnson Kids (presenting sponsor), KB Gear Interactive, Reebok and Perrier (pavilion sponsors). While the tour was a great success for Nickelodeon, with attendance topping 436,000, the results for the partners varied, and only Johnson & Johnson decided to return for the tour’s sequel in the summer of 2000. Still, new sponsors such as Banana Boat, Gellyz and Sanford Sharpie were found to replace the originals, and at least one of the founding partners might return next year as well. Along the way, both Nick and the sponsors learned a lot about making sure your brand, message and goals are compatible with your partners.
VP of Nickelodeon Theatricals Stuart Rosenstein says the event was like ‘any big rock music festival-just with a lot of shorter people running around.’ All That, Nick’s popular live-action sketch comedy performed entirely by kids and featuring hot young hip-hop groups, was the obvious pick for the tie-in as the ‘only show on Nickelodeon at that point that mixed music in on a consistent basis,’ says Rosenstein.
From the get go, Nickelodeon knew it would be difficult to stand out in the crowded world of summer pop music tours. So to get that extra exposure, Nick worked extensively with local cable systems in the more than 80 markets the tour reached. Nick provided the systems with material to use in local ad sales packages for potential cable advertising clients, as well as sales packages for directly targeting consumers. Nick also aligned with local radio and press as much it could in every market.
In choosing the acts to headline the festival mainstage, Nick looked to work with groups that had enjoyed at least a couple of hit singles, were interested in touring the country, and were pursuing the tween market. For 1999, Monica (Angel of Mine), 98û (Because of You), EYC (This Thing Called Love), B*Witched (C’est la Vie), No Authority (What I Wanna Do) and Destiny’s Child (Jumpin’ Jumpin’) fit the bill. Nick wanted artists that were both appropriate for the age group and interested in reaching a mass audience, so who better than Tatiana Ali, DJ Nabs and Aaron Carter (brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter)? For the sequel this past summer, B*Witched and No Authority returned, joined by LFO, Sammy, Angela Via, mya, Take 5, Boyz N Girlz United, Blaque, Bosson and A*Teens.
Nick’s desire to bring its ‘weird-funny’ attitude to the hometowns of its viewers found a receptive audience in the net’s existing marketing partners. The promotions team, led by director of promotions marketing Lara Nowatka, was able to sign on Nick’s current on-air partners and both current and previous advertisers. ‘We wanted strategic partnerships,’ says Rosenstein. ‘People who were going after the tween market and wanted to work with us on many levels: In advertising, on-air promotions, on-line and with this festival.’
According to Rosenstein, the benefits of aligning with this event were many. Being where kids are is one, and being where kids are experiencing their first live concert with big name acts is a bigger one. ‘You’ve got the association with Nickelodeon, and you’ve got the on-air benefit of media, which everyone needs.’ He adds that the festival aspect of the event provides a unique opportunity: ‘You’ve got this captive audience of 10,000 people for two hours before the show starts, and it’s a great way to reach parents and kids directly at a really impactive time-when they’re having fun.’
Johnson & Johnson, which was promoting its kids hair care products, sponsored a ‘Kid Wash’ that acted as a full immersion human car wash. Shampoo sachet sampling helped tie the promotion to their product.
Perrier, which was in the process of conducting local promotions for its new pint-sized spring water entry, sampled the product. They also hosted ‘Drencher Adventure,’ a virtual whitewater rafting ride with a large-screen video monitor and sprinklers inside an air-conditioned tent.
For its part, KB Gear Interactive used the event to promote its new JamC@m digital cameras. The company had been searching for a national event to help reach the tween market, and saw the festival as a perfect fit. The KB Gear tent was armed with Gateway computers and JamC@ms. Tent staff took digital photos of kids as they entered. Kids could then look at the photos on-screen and had the option of providing an e-mail address so KB Gear could send them their photo after the event. ‘We found that kids were surprised to see computers set up outside, and that was a great draw for us,’ says Pete Stoddart, director of consumer marketing, KB Gear. ‘It gave them a chance to see that digital technology isn’t just for your basement-it’s actually pretty portable.’ KB Gear also discovered that their relatively small-scale operation allowed them to be placed in high-traffic areas near festival entrances.
Reebok found the reverse to be true for its large-scale operation, a climbing wall. ‘It’s big, it’s visual, it’s very attractive to kids,’ says Reebok Kids category director Michael Phelan. ‘You get a long line and kids gravitate to that.’ Kids got to climb the wall while test-driving a pair of Reebok’s DMX (moving air technology) shoes. Looking to reach the six- to 11-year-old demo, Reebok tied in with Kids Footlocker and handed out US$5 coupons for DMX shoes as an incentive to get kids in the stores.
The tie-in was a lesson for Reebok. Phelan believes kids have a tendency to throw away coupons once they leave events; and indeed, Reebok discovered that only a very small percentage actually worked their way back into stores. ‘I don’t think that you can rely on coupon redemption,’ Phelan reflects. ‘I think you have to have a really strong incentive to get kids back into the store-a concert poster or some fun thing they really want that they’ll have to go into the store to get.’ Another disappointment was that when the main show took place, there wasn’t a lot of exposure for the vendor, versus other tours Reebok has done, where they enjoyed strong stage signage and promotional announcements. Phelan says it’s something you have to take into account when you look at the overall payback.
Still, Phelan says that ‘kids got exposure to Reebok, and it was a very positive experience, associating with the Nick characters and being part of a really fun event. It was a good place for kids to experience Reebok in a different light.’
Phelan says points that promo partners should consider before signing to a tour such as All That include: Does the image of the event tie in well with your brand? Will the host let you integrate your brand and product concept into the event itself? Can they deliver the audience? Do their sponsors change from year to year? Does the age skew really match up with the product you are promoting at the time? And finally, can the event really drive your retail sales?
The answers to the last four of those questions point to the quantitative hits and misses of All That 1999. Nickelodeon proved that it could indeed deliver an audience, with an overall attendance of 436,280 in 1999 and 450,000 for the 2000 tour. This summer’s sequel also saw the addition of a Canadian city, Toronto, to the tour. As well, Nickelodeon discovered that where its presence as a network was stronger, the tour’s reception was stronger, with the strongest area for both viewership and the tour being the Northeast.
Festival website attendance on Nick.com was strong as well, with over 1.8 million kid hits. And the tour really delivered exposure, generating over 750 pages of general interest newspaper and magazine articles, valued at over US$5 million.
The cumulative answers to the last three questions are intermingled. Only Johnson & Johnson returned for the 2000 tour, noting a bump in summer `99 sales. KB Gear discovered post-tour that the demo for its digital cameras was skewing older at retail, and decided not to return. Since Reebok’s Back to School promo was a success in 1999, Phelan says it’s hard to tell how much of a role the tour played, since it was running alongside Reebok’s own TV, print, on-line and in-store programs. In the end, he decided that the tour didn’t really match Reebok’s target demo of kids ages six to 11, and skipped the 2000 tour. Reebok might not be gone for good though, as Phelan says he will take a look at rejoining in 2001, when he expects to have a new product for Nick’s eight to 14 demo.