The Evolution of Squamish Valley Music Festival: Sponsors Hitting High Notes in 2015


Working with a music festival is just as cool as it sounds (ok, maybe even cooler than it sounds). Over a year ago TORQUE Strategies teamed up with the organizers of Squamish Valley Music Festival, Live Nation and Brand.LIVE to help set the Festival up for sponsorship success.

With a bold vision and set of aspirations from the SVMF team, and a revamped brand identity thanks to our friends at Will Creative, we co-authored a strategy that focused on brand alignment, values-based partnerships and consumer experience. With strategy in hand, the SVMF team set out to do the hard work building a family of corporate partners – and oh did they succeed. Seeing the festival come to life with vibrant, experience enhancing contributions from partners truly exceeded expectations.

Still buzzing from their experience, TORQUE team members Bart, Auburn & Monica share their favourite new activations for SVMF 2015 below. Check them out, and be sure to share your favourites in the comments section. [Honourable mentions include Budweiser (lazers and lights in the forest like woah!), Spotify (still listening to the SVMF playlist on repeat), and even Just Eat (who doesn’t want to try riding a bucking salmon nigiri?)]






Bart_Given_Web101 Bart Given, Managing Director

My favourite activations were Mumford & Sons, K-OS and Elle King.

But I wasn’t asked about my music critique, so Perrier is my top performance of the non-musical variety. Perrier set up a musical “Greenhouse” stocked with a bar serving Perrier products, a DJ, and air conditioning for festival goers to enjoy. It was visually impactful and therefore captured the attention of every festival attendee, though its raw appeal is not the singular reason I rank it highly.

Live music is continuing to grow globally, with sales of tickets and sponsorship forecasted to generate revenues of US$30.9 BN in 2017, up from US$26.5BN in 2012, a CAGR of 3%.(Price Waterhouse Cooper)

Successful partnerships deliver against multiple objectives, and in my estimation Perrier was able to accomplish the following (in no particular order):

  • Sell more product:
    •  This is why we do this isn’t it? Perrier was available to attendees not only in the “Greenhouse” but across the festival site and therefore underwrote a portion of the Rights Fee.
    • The Event Marketing Institute found 94% of Gen Y consumers are more likely to buy a product as a result of a good experience at an event.
  • Introduce the brand/product to potential new customers.
    • They distributed the product in a new size, variety and environment.
    • Re: environment – I’m Generation X and have never contemplated mixing my hard alcohol with Perrier. When I indulge, it’s either soda or tonic water – generic. The “Greenhouse” introduced me to Vodka & Perrier. Smart. It worked for Red Bull.
  • Engage Authentically
    • It’s important to be authentic to your brand and the desired audience.
    • As a brand, it was refreshing, clean, bright, friendly and effectively balanced a feeling of being a special/exclusive place while remaining available to all.
    • It’s an outdoor music festival – weather is unpredictable. The Greenhouse was climate controlled and comfortable.
  • Be a Destination
    • Perrier was visually impressive, comfortable and programmed. The “Greenhouse” was also a dedicated stage for artists to perform, integrated into SVMF’s promoted schedule.
  • Brand Awareness
    • If you’re using sponsorship solely to raise the awareness of your product – it’s likely a mistake. Nonetheless, no one ever turns down the proverbial rink board. Perrier was present in a significant way at a millennial-filled weekend of celebration. Not a bad halo.

Perrier’s strategy encompassed all of this, and perhaps more importantly – leveraged it as part of a broader festival strategy. Perrier was present at multiple festivals this season and obviously identified the opportunity as an avenue to reach a desirable audience and therefore activated it properly.

Of course, this is my opinion as a consumer – but I’m betting Perrier will rank highly on post-event research from the brand and property perspective.






Auburn_Sigurdson_web101   Auburn Sigurdson, Director, Brand & Strategy

There were so many impressive partner activations at SVMF this year, sponsors really came out to play making it hard to choose a true favourite. It wasn’t hard to see, however, which activation was the fan favourite. With line ups 150 people deep from the moment gates opened until dusk each day, Topshop/Topman Canada held court on the Tantalus Stage field all weekend long.

Not only was their footprint, bold, beautiful and frankly huge (apparently their mantra is go tall or go home with the highest structure on the field second only to the stage itself), but they nailed the value-add experience millennials are after, offering free custom-designed festival tees printed on a beautiful hand operated screen printing press. Guys and girls lined up for hours patiently waiting to choose their own design from a menu of six artistic renditions commemorating the festival.

They hit a sweet spot when it comes to consumer trends – offering fans choice – tailoring their own experience, a craft-like handmade product, and all for free. Not to mention owning a significant theme within festival culture: the fashion. Beyond the brilliant custom tee gift, Topshop brought their brand story to life showcasing festival fashion by capturing street-style-esque #OOTD shots of on-trend revelers and integrated the content on the main stage big screens between acts.

The brand’s engagement wasn’t limited to the confines of the festival grounds however. A quick list of highlights:

  • They brought the festival to life in-store for weeks in the lead up with music-fest inspired looks and contests for shoppers.
  • Taking the story online, the brand engaged local influential fashion blogger Kiara Schwartz from TorbruckAve to act as their festival brand ambassador, bringing the pre-festival and on-site experience to life in full colour.
  • Aligning with media partner The Georgia Straight, Topshop also enjoyed some feature coverage of their festival fashion options in the weekly newsmagazine.
  • And perhaps the most #FOMO inducing moment, they kicked off the weekend with a surprise visit from the Arkells at their store in downtown Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay.

In the end, as a loyal festival-goer in my teens through the early 90’s frequenting events like Edgefest, I’m so happy to see the revival of music festivals (and somewhat amused to see the revival of the same Doc Martens, crop tops, short shorts, plaid-shirts-tied-at-the-waist fashion I wore in ’96 and ’97 while crowd surfing to Big Wreck and the The Tea Party). There are no better memories than those made while celebrating with thousands of your peers surrounded by music and the great outdoors. It’s clear marketers are seeing the benefit of tapping into their target market while they’re in a state of joy and euphoria – whether it be stomping their feet along with Mumford & Sons, or shaking a tail feather with ASAP Rocky.





Monica_Whiteley_web101 Monica Whiteley, Coordinator, Client Service

I cast my vote for the LUSH fresh handmade Cosmetics activation hands down. LUSH Cosmetics teamed up with a local hair salon called is. Salon to give festival goers fantastically radical braids. Is. Salon supplied their hair dressers and LUSH brought their deliciously scented products to the hair of festival goers. The brand also sold their products onsite to the not-so-sweet smelling campers.

To be perfectly honest, not only was I enjoying the likes of Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes & my boy George (Ezra that is), I was simultaneously enthralled by the entire festival experience. And I know I’m not the only one who likes to watch for new trends at festivals. Eventbrite found that 17% of festival goers are excited about the experience and 10% are there for the fashion. And while sporting events continue to have a male dominated audience, 56% of festival goers are females. LUSH Cosmetics catered to this demo (and some particularly awesome gentlemen!) enhancing their festival experience and personalizing it with each braid.

LUSH didn’t just braid the hair of greasy campers. Here are a few more highlights from their SVMF activation both onsite and online.

  • Not only were the braids tailored, so were the products the brand sold onsite, with names like “dirty hair cream”, “dirty body spray”, and “no drought”. LUSH’s “festival essentials”, provided the consumer with a solution, to dirty, unwashed hair, and frankly, people. As a sponsor, giving your consumer a solution to a problem they are likely experiencing in the moment can help create a bond founded in positive sentiment.
  • @LUSHCOSMETICS shared snapshots of the experience with their 1.5 million Instagram followers resulting in 45,000-65,000 likes per photo. The brand’s social channels amplified the festival’s online awareness far beyond the confines of the festival grounds.

LUSH mirrored Squamish’s theme of a festival beyond with a gorgeous oasis-inspired “salon” fitted with flowers, lush greenery and even fruit. What girl wouldn’t want to get her hair done at a place like this?!