In just its third year, Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Music Festival has quickly carved out its own niche in the ever-crowding festival market by booking a lineup made up entirely of marquee, A-plus plus talent that grace its 850 stations’ airwaves everyday.
Today’s just-announced bill is proof: Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Elton John are just four of this year’s names.
But the question often raised by many of the festival’s equally A-list return and potential sponsors was often: “So if you’re a festival, where can we set up our activation booth?” The first two years of the festival were held exclusively in the MGM Grand Arena, a venue that was very limited in terms of space for big brands like State Farm, Macy’s and AT&T to extend their sponsorships beyond video ads that aired on the Jumbotron above the mainstage.
But for this year’s festival, to be held Sept. 20 and 21, iHeartRadio will add its first Fan Village, an outdoor experience adjacent to the MGM Grand that will feature exclusive daytime performances from acts like Miley Cyrus, Avril Lavigne and Jason DeRulo as well as interactive sponsorship experiences from Macy’s, AT&T, Pepsi, Unilever’s Axe and Fruttare Ice Cream Bars, Diageo’s Smirnoff vodka, State Farm Insurance, MGM Grand, 20th Century Fox and Matador Snacks among others. The 15-acre event space is expected to attract 15,000 fans, and will be free to festival ticket winners and an affordable standalone price for fans who can’t make the mainstage.
Greg Glenday, president of Clear Channel Connections, the company’s marketing and sponsorship arm, cited a conversation he had with the marketing team at Pepsi regarding the Village as a prime example of sponsors’ accelerated interest in coming onboard this year.
“They’re one of those sponsors that understand festival culture, so they said, ‘This thing is great but it’s not really a festival. It’s indoors. It’s an amazing concert but it’s more like the Grammys.’ The Fan Village really helped because of the fan moments they want to create as part of their Iconic Summer program.” Pepsi quickly signed on as IHeartRadio’s first non-alcoholic beverage partner, and also sponsored last month’s IHeartRadio Pool Party in Miami.
Returning sponsor Macy’s will highlight the winner of this year’s iHeartRadio Rising Star contest, The Summer Set, via a mainstage performance and a Fan Village booth. Unilever’s Fruttare, which debuted at Coachella earlier this year, will host a performance of its original song “It’s All Good” with Ne-Yo and Cher Lloyd, and will also provide refreshing samples to attendees to cool off during the hot Vegas weather. AT&T will support its pro-social campaign It Can Wait with driving simulators to raise awareness of the dangers of texting behind the wheel. Smirnoff will promote its ongoing “Master of the Mix” contest and TV series by hosting a performance of this year’s winner, in addition to pouring rights in the venue at MGM.
Perhaps most notable is the presence of 20th Century Fox, which will host special preview experiences and the official press junket of its fall movie “Runner Runner,” starring Justin Timberlake, whose appearance the studio was happy to accommodate. Glenday says the singer may have a halo effect on one if not two more potential sponsors as the festival finalizes its partners. Glenday declined to confirm which brands he’s in talks with, but Timberlake’s current partners include MasterCard, Bud Light Platinum and Target. Of those three, only Target would have a conflict of interest, since Macy’s is already the exclusive retail partner. “Justin is not lacking in brand associations and our relationship with his team has helped make these connections really collaborative,” Glenday says.