The Sound of Success: Reinventing Rhythm & Vines

Kyle Bell

Head of marketing and partnerships at Rhythm & Vines Kyle Bell shares his insight into promoting one of New Zealand’s most successful festivals and what he thinks it takes to excel in the field.

Kyle Bell has been in his current role at Rhythm and Vines since 2015, and was last year selected as a finalist in the Marketer of the Year category at the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards. Following the 2020 festival and a successful five-year campaign that has repositioned and grown the brand, NZ Marketing sits down with Bell for a conversation on the challenges he has faced, how he has overcome these and where he sees his career headed.

What has been your most significant achievement in your career?

Having Rhythm & Vines (R&V) sold out in 2020 before a line-up was announced, and that was pretty satisfying. The ultimate sign of trust. Looking back on where we had come from in 2015, R&V was essentially done and dusted, last throw of the dice kind of stuff. Our office was an upstairs pub, well-publicised cashflow issues, real promoter hustle that forced us to be innovative and strategic. I look back on 2015 with great fondness, but certainly happy to be where we are right now.

Having two children in the past five years was also hugely character building. It’s amazing what can be achieved while running on empty.

What is it about the Rhythm & Vines brand that drew you in?

Well, I was in a band that got to play at it every year, and this was the initial attraction (after all, no one else would book us). But outside of that, it was always a place that we would get to catch up with our friends. And the friend element remains central to our marketing play today. A place where you can get the crew together to celebrate the year that was (or maybe in the case of 2020, commiserate).

What does it take to be an award-winning marketer?

Ability to prioritise and focus on what really matters. There are hundreds and millions of things you can do to contribute to a brand’s success, but it’s being able to narrow down the fundamentals and doing them well, as well as being strong enough and prepared to say no to the non-essentials. 

What are some of the biggest challenges marketers are currently faced with?

Remaining relevant. I’m trying to lead meaningful conversations with people half my age. Keeping up with the trends, memes, tik tok, the lingo, what’s next? It’s a huge challenge but it keeps me youthful and I love it. Surprisingly, my Dad jokes continue to be received quite well.

How has your marketing style evolved to sell Rhythm & Vines from 2015 to now?

We have certainly become more focussed on the brand building elements versus quite a sales focussed strategy early on. Now the business is in a strong position, I’m enjoying the challenge of focussing on sustainability initiatives, working on growing our charity involvement and creating opportunities for aspiring event management and marketing students.

Where do you see your career headed in the next 5-10 years?

Leading and developing new festival and concert products in New Zealand and building a team of ninjas that can continue to grow the business.

What advice would you give other marketers who are involved in event marketing?

Get the basics right, that includes the boring stuff (looking at you ticketing). The creativity can come once you have a platform to build on. 

To read the profiles of all the winners from the TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2020, get a copy of our Awards Issue, here.

Mollie Edwards

About Mollie Edwards

Mollie Edwards writes across ICG business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress and The Register.

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