Best Long-term Marketing Excellence

The evolution of Rhythm & Vines between the years of 2015 – 2020 is a story of passion for the brand, determination and good old-fashioned promoter hustle.

The Challenge 

By 2015 the Rhythm & Vines (R&V) festival brand had lost favour with and the trust of New Zealand’s youth, and needed a strategic marketing and communications plan to help turn things around. The business was also facing very public financial problems and unfavourable media coverage from crowd behavioural issues. 

New Zealanders are also renowned for being last minute ticket buyers, and when running a large scale music festival in one of the most remote regions in the country, this was problematic. 

How then could the festival build trust with ticket buyers so that it would create urgency amongst its largely school-leaving audience who had to largely rely on the decision-making of parents. At the same time change the perception that R&V is more than just a school leavers party in a paddock.

The Response

Experience and understanding the festival market and what makes Rhythm and Vines unique was key to establishing the groundwork behind the festival’s marketing strategy. Strategically, Rhythm and Vines moved away from the larger scale music festival. More people equals more queues, more issues and ultimately a poorer experience. The experience needed to be paramount to everything.

The festival’s focus was on a premium, boutique festival experience and creating a brand story around this. While other events were proudly promoting the biggest festival line-up, and being the biggest festival in New Zealand, Rhythm and Vines continued to focus and invest on delivering a far superior festival experience.

The marketing team created sub-brands around festival experiences, including: the introduction of comedy, better food offering and a wellness element. Once the festival had confidence in its product, the marketing team went to work on building a community of fans to help sell the dream, utilising promoter-based sales tactics such as ambassadors and stage partnerships.

The Result 

Ticketing and presale strategy effectively drove urgency but also played a key role in capturing new fans and most importantly data of future ticket purchasers. This resulted in 171 percent growth in overall festival revenue from 2015-2019, 171 percent growth in sponsorship revenues from 2016-2019, and a 48 percent increase in
the average ticket price from 2015-2019.

Another key metric for success is Facebook event attendees. The official R&V Facebook event page garnered organic reach of over 450,000 each year, growing from 14,500 Facebook attendees in 2015, to over 40,000 in 2019.

Entry details

Category: Best long-term marketing excellence
Company: R&V Live Nation
Marketing Initiative: The Evolution of Rhythm & Vines
Marketing Partners: OMSE, Radlab
Judge’s Comments: “Judges were impressed with the transparency and straight-up nature of the challenges R & V faced over the years. This entry backs up the challenges with a clearly articulated marketing strategy and a set of results that prove the value of smart marketing thinking, which lead R&V to change its propositions, offers and positioning over five years. They also took some risks with pricing, and creative. A winning entry from a small team, with a scant marketing budget.”
Finalists: Foodstuffs – PAK’nSAVE, Lotto New Zealand, Marley New Zealand, New Zealand Police,
The Movember Foundation

This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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