Nearly two years after acquiring a 50% stake in promoter Insomniac Events, Live Nation continues to expand its electronic dance-music business on both the touring and festival circuits worldwide. Adding to the boom this year will be the company's largest EDM branding deal to date, a partnership with Diageo's Smirnoff vodka to become the official vodka sponsor of 26 festivals, including the Electric Daisy, HARD and Wonderland franchises.
"Smirnoff as a brand is all about inclusivity, enjoying life and having a great time, so we saw a natural fit in the electronic music genre and lifestyle," says Matt Bruhn, global brand director for Smirnoff. "What we're trying to do is not just advertise our way to success but act our way to success."
Smirnoff will provide intimate experiences at each festival that will vary by territory, each anchored in interactions between artists and fans inspired by the Smirnoff Sound Collective, a platform the brand started in 2014. EDM acts like Steve Aoki, Zeds Dead, Hayden James and Tommy Trash have already been involved, through Smirnoff's relationship with THUMP and previous sponsorship of three SFX festivals, with another 10 more expected to be featured throughout the 26 Live Nation festivals. "We've been trying to build some cred and really be part of the scene," Bruhn says. "I believe as a musical movement because of what it does, in terms of breaking artist and giving access to people who don't have instruments, EDM is just so genre-neutral. Look at Jack U's latest album, it's such an eclectic mix of people, and shows how dance music is a positive, fun world. We want to be a part of that."
And just as the Live Nation deal will help Smirnoff unify its brand message worldwide amid growing competition (Diageo has said Smirnoff is the number-one selling vodka), Live Nation continues to elevate its positioning as a global sponsorship player. In January, the company announced a global deal with Hilton as its new hotel partner, reaching 42 million HHonors guest-program members, and key Live Nation client Citi has been staffing up its international entertainment teams to better position itself for global pre-sales. In EDM, Live Nation inked two multi-festival sponsorship deals with 7 Up and Bud Light Platinum in the U.S. last year that will return in 2015, with Bud Light expected to fill Platinum's role on the festival circuit. In total, Live Nation reported $300.3 million in sponsorship and advertising revenue in 2014, a 5% increase from 2013.
Russell Wallach, Live Nation's president of media and sponsorship, says the Smirnoff deal "is a great model where we can develop consistencies around the world. They said to us from day one, 'We want to create a great experience and bring the artist and fans closer together. And we're now working closely with them to bring that to life."
The full list of Smirnoff-sponsored festivals is below:
EDC – New York (U.S.)
EDC – Las Vegas (U.S.)
EDC – Orlando (U.S.)
Nocturnal Wonderland – Los Angeles (U.S.)
Beyond Wonderland – Los Angeles (U.S.)
Beyond Wonderland – San Francisco (U.S.)
Escape from Wonderland – Los Angeles (U.S.)
White Wonderland – Los Angeles (U.S.)
HARD Red Rocks – Denver (U.S.)
HARD Summer – Los Angeles (U.S.)
HARD Day Of The Dead – Los Angeles (U.S.)
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience – New Orleans (U.S.)
Wireless – London (UK)
EDC – London (UK)
Latitude – Suffolk (UK)
V Festival North – Shropshire (UK)
V Festival South – Chelmsford (UK)
Creamfields – Liverpool (UK)
Glasgow Sessions (UK)
We Are Electric (Netherlands)