BRAND, Event

NH7 – The Musical Highway

Where were you weekend past (18th -20th Nov) ? If you, as a music lover or a youth marketer were not weekending at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune (where else), then you just missed a fabulous Music Festival and a chance to literally catch a glimpse of a very representative section of the Indian urban youth. There have been others, perhaps with pedigree, such as Great Indian Rock , Independence Rock delighting audiences with their ensemble of music over the years, but NH7 attempts to fill the big void of ONE MASSIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL over the weekend with its sheer range of musical acts.

Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2011

Bacardi NH7 is a three day musical extravaganza that just concluded its second edition. The festival saw the best of Indian Indie music come together on 5 different stages and played just loud enough for 3 consecutive days.

The venue had been changed to Laxmi Lawns Pune this year to make it bigger , grander and knock your freaking socks off .Bringing together various genres of music together for the last 2 years NH7 is positioning itself as a platform where you get everything under one roof.
GIR , Sunburn , these events cater to a specific genre of music and hence attract a particular audience. NH7 on the other serves a mixed platter with pop , rock , metal , electronic , dubstep , trance , Indie Rock , Folk , fusion , hiphop as assortment garnished with soundclash mash-ups. To have some sense of exclusivity Bollywood dhik chak has been consciously excluded.

So overall 60 odd bands over the span of 3 days. One would assume you would have to dig deep in the wallet to attend such a musical exhibition. But NH7 kept the tickets affordable and threw in special offers which really attracted the student community and those who couldnt attend all the 3 days. Moreover, NH7 as a brand is only in its formative years and what it needs most is young folks pouring in.

Pricing specifics:
An All event pass i.e 3 days was of 2000.
A 2 day pass was of Rs 1500.
1 day Pass = Rs 750.
Students Passes for All three days were Priced at Rs 999.
Considering Pune is the Oxford of the East, student passes were a sell out by the 2nd day.This from the point where they gave away free passes on the last day last year. #Welldone

Considering the festival attracted people with varied musical pallets it was to be quite a platform for major brands , especially youth marketing brands to come and target their audiences. We’ve pretty much believed that you can guess a persons personality type by the music he listens to and the one that she enjoys. Yes sometimes they’re different.

Coming back to the festival and how the Organisers and the participating brands leveraged,here’s a our analysis of the marketing judo for the event –

From the Organizers Point of View :
Only Much Louder (OML) were the organisers. They made some good choices, Pune surprisingly did not have its own big fest till date. Buzzing with energy amplified by great weather in November the appeal was big given the demographics. Result – an incredible turnout.

Obviously these folks wouldn queue up in front of any park that’s blaring music. The soul, one has to say lies in displaying the range of artists which Indian audiences haven’t ever seen at one happy park. Only then would it feel like a festival, great amalgamation of the Indian Music scene at one place. Core Promise of big acts from all genres was kept well. The fact that OML is also an artist management agency helped them to pull this off with elan.

Sponsors: They already had huge brands associated with the event from last year – Bacardi , Pepsi and Redbull. They added a bit of an entrepreneurial twist to this by showcasing up and coming start up ventures. Jholca CO. , Ink Me Silly , KRunk , Quirk Box , Sabotaz made for an interesting presence.

Pre Event Hype:
Social media, yea what else, was abuzz with conversations about the event. Promotions started from the month of August itself and Facebook traffic subsequently started moving towards the NH7 page with the announcement of acts that would perform at the festival.

The quality of posts made you curious but lacked a bit of interactivity. The challenge of where advertising stops and conversation begins can still be seen if you get onto their FB page. But having a solid product meant that there were enough conversations beyond their own page.

They did of course put a Youtube video of last years show. A 50 minute documentary was released two weeks prior to the weekender just giving the audiences what they could expect at this years event.

Traditional Advertising Articles and ad’s in leading music magazines like Rolling Stone India and Rock Street Journal. Although a good medium , but looking at the number of subscribers to both these magazines not too many people would have got to know about NH7 through them. Next year they can target other independent magazines as well as the event itself isnt defined by it’s genre.

In Pune city, there was a bigger hype and appropriately so with advertisements in dailies, radio , banners and posters all over. Major haunts of Pune city were promoting the weekender like crazy : High Spirits , Hidden Place.
Most of the Pune youth is found at these joints during the weekends, thus the impact of such promotion was high.

During the Event:

For all those people who really couldnt travel all the way to Pune for the festival had the opportunity to catch the event live. UTV Interactive streamed the event on YouTube, Facebook and Indiatimes to the metaphorical millions . Though there werent many takers of this feed as a Live show cant really be experienced any other way but it underscores the thoughtfulness of the promoters.

NH7 has over 81,000 Facebook fans & and around 2500 Twitter followers. These twitter feeds turned out to be helpful for people at the event. Those trying to to figure out what stage what artist was playing. It’s easy to get lost in the whole commotion of such an event, so use of twitter was appropriate as real time customer service.

Twitter Feed During the Event

Post the Event

Not too much was said about the event in the newspapers. For instance The only time NH7 made it to the front page of Pune Times was when Imogen Heap was performing. A print media partner would have helped, but given most of their audience spends more time online, if they had to not pursuit a media, print was perhaps it.

From the Brands Perspective :
On an average 5000 people/ day attended last years festival, so its only getting bigger with an estimated avg of 9000 ppl / day this year. The festival was for everyone but music usually acts as the filter and major turn out ranged from 18-30 yrs of age. What brand would not want to exploit such space.

Bacardi as the title sponsor rightly dominated the festival pasting itself all over the space. Out of the 5 stages 3 were named after a Bacardi Products. Bacardi Black Rock Arena , The Dewarist Stage & Eristoff’s Wolf Den.These names were made synonymous among all the people who came to witness the festival.

Bacardi Black Areana - MenWhoPause - Photo @ Indiecision

The Dewarist Stage - Imogen Heap - Photo @ Indiecision

Bacardi All Star Stage Photo @ Indiecision

Medivial Punditz @ Eristoff's Wolves Den Photo @ Indiecision

Pepsi made it presence felt at the one of the stages – The Pepsi Dubstep Station. With wall graffiti and big backdrops Pepsi was endorsing the whole new sound of music at the Dub Station.

Pepsi playing to the feel of Dub

When one thinks of Redbull , adventure/extreme sports is what comes to mind. Adrenaline is the keyword. But in India , there are not too many such events taking place. So the best available opportunity for Red Bull to associate are events where the footfall is heavy and the energy levels are constantly up. NH7 with 5 different stages and music running from afternoon to night, RED BUll was essential to keep you going.

Redbull was the official energy drink sponsor and complimented the venue with it’s own stall and a compliment to all the Bacardi Products as a mixer.
It was surprising to see both Pepsi and Redbull being present at the same event. Neither of the brands globally have any illusions that the other belongs to a different category.Its beverage.

Classic on the other hand was the tobacco brand of the festival. Through first two days people were carrying their own smokes , last day there were no outside smokes allowed , which made life difficult for people who prefer a different brand of smoke.
Note to the organizers: Be clear about what the rules are and don’t get bullied by partners.

Gibson Guitars made their Presence felt with their own stall. A real treat for budding amateur artists to really feel the tone of a givson in their ears. People must be buying a lot of guitars as they had a stall even at the Harley Davidson Rockriders event.

Gibson Stall

A Special mention to PETA for being part of the Festival. PETA as a brand could have termed as a misfit but with music comes a voice and PETA’s message were worded out by numerous artists who endorsed their Tshirt to make the audience aware of the cause PETA is fighting for. An artist has so many eyes on him during a performance that wearing a PETA t-shirt would have gone a-miss. #Welldone #bigimpact

Get Inked In Pune:
A standout highlight was the Tattoo Convention.In the independent spirit of the event Tattoo Republic brought together artists from all over the globe to come down to India and showcase their unique designs for people to get Inked.

Tattoo Republic

Other Highlights
The Festival unlike last year was a major success due to the involvement of lot of upcoming start ups from all over India. A Flea Market for goodies and food stalls for keep the appetite running. A real thumbs up for letting new business showcase their products and giving them the extra exposure they really needed.

The Flea Market

The Alley - Waterline , Jhola Co. & PETA .. with army of fans

These startups worked for reason that they were all new and unconventional. Not many people had heard about and with curiosity comes the great responsibility to inquire. Moreover, there is sometimes during the music fest where you just want the music in the background. The Flea market and the Food stalls were the answers during these times.

The Misfit :
How can you miss the Dinosaur ? Tera Nova, the new Spielberg TV production had their own unique marketing stunt , with giant life life Dinosaurs placed between stages. The Dinosaurs which are a central theme to the new hit show was nothing but a little stop for those who wanted to take pictures and gawk at the not so wooly beasts. Apart from that there wasn’t a brand which was out of place.

As I Said - A Very Happy Dinosaur

Brands That could have been there

Kingfisher Beer: A Glass of Chilled Beer was what was missing from the event. Yes, we do understand that it’s a Bacardi Sponsored event so why would they get some Beer brand involved? Does Bacardi have a beer brand, about time. But with an average footfall of around 9000, look at the market the Carlsberg’s and KF’s of the world missed out.

Fashion Brands The festival was all about colours and people representing themselves by what they wore. Clothing Brands like Levi’s perhaps even the rejuvenated Flying Machine should have looked at this as an opportunity the opportunity to make a connect.

Entertainment/Music Channels: VH1 was VHnone when they should have been all over this festival at least covering the music. how did UTV beat them at this and what now are they going to do about it. Waiting…

So at the end of the weekend as the last riff was played and the beat got mellow, the 1 year old production did what ever they could do to encompass every aspect of music, fun and branding.The big challenge is to stick to the true essence of the festival with only diligent placement of brands and products all over the venue.
NH7 did well and organizers couldn’t have expect a better response. With minor glitches in sound system and some delays , the show seemed flawless on the surface.

For Artists this was a great platform to showcase their talent and by the end of each their sets would have garnered a lot of new fans. Moreover, artists were witness to an wide diverse set of music lovers. Also, they had the opportunity to interact amongst themselves. The mashups and soundclashes were new to the Indian audiences as well.

Over the last one year , India has witnesses numerous international acts falling apart at the last minute such as Bryan Adams and Metallica. So NH7 had the huge responsibility of being an event which holds its own merit against the big players in the future.

In the words of Rihanna ;P “Cheers to the freaken’ weekend”

NH7 Weekender The Line Up - Photographs Courtsey Indiecision



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