With your event activation “Big Idea” decided, it’s time to give it some pizazz! This means developing a theme that ties your brand to the event to make the entire experience seamless and cohesive. It’s about amping up the theme with killer creative and messaging that speaks to young consumers in a language they can relate to and understand.

Your theme shouldn’t just reflect your big picture idea for the sponsorship; it should be relatable, delightful, and, tangibly useful. The most successful event sponsorship themes stay on-brand and connect to fans genuinely, almost intuitively. Fans “get” the theme right away, and have a positive reaction to the brand as a result.

For its Grammy Party sponsorship, Pepsi went with a “We Heart Pop” theme. The Pepsi logo and cans of soda were incorporated into party signage for full effect. There were even Pepsi-themed signature cocktails to sip – right on-brand and perfect for getting the party “poppin’”.

Speaking of pop, PopChips used the hashtag #popchipstotherescue at their Pitchfork music festival sponsorship in Chicago. PopChips activated an on-site “rescue hut,” complete with supplies and amenities festival goers need to revive and refresh, like phone charging stations, a relaxation area, and even a fun, oversized frame for snapping pics and sharing on social.

Your theme’s overall look and feel should work hard to represent both the brand and the event. It’s all about striking the right balance. You don’t want to force it – that’s a turn-off, and fans see through it immediately.

A great example of a brand killing it on the custom creative front is Kia Motors. For years, the manufacturer’s sponsorship of Vans Warped Tour has included an on-site activation complete with attention-grabbing graphics, displays, and fun elements like spray-on tattoos for festival goers to rock during the show. In addition, Kia maintained a strong digital presence as part of the sponsorship.

For the auto maker’s 2012 tour sponsorship, the Kia Soul Lounge activation drew inspiration from the tour’s Mayan tribal theme. Colorful graphics were incorporated across digital and social platforms, like Facebook, as well as across a dedicated, Kia-branded digital hub. This extended the Vans Warped Tour experience online and created a cohesive, fully immersive experience, no matter the entry point.

When customizing signage and graphics, remember: put yourself in the fans’ shoes. Tailor your messaging to them. Don’t force it. Make it seamless and fun. Consider where fans are in their event experience when they see your creative. Are they just entering the venue? Returning from getting some food? In the crowd watching the stage? Online watching the live stream?

Take the time to walk yourself through every piece of creative in context before you finalize anything.

You’ll thank yourself for it.


There’s nothing more deflating – or embarrassing – than throwing an awesome party…and then nobody shows up. Music festivals or tours simply can’t take this chance. It’s not surprising, then, that one of the biggest costs associated with these events is spreading the word that it’s going to be the party of the year.

For brands, latching on to the built-in buzz, fan following, and media exposure of established festivals and tours is a smart strategy. Arguably, it’s the greatest benefit of event sponsorship.


To keep costs down (but still make a sponsorship splash), consider purchasing a piece of the event’s existing media, or even offer to share media costs. Look to be included in promotions via social media, newsletters, custom co-branded promotions, contests, or sweepstakes – these are all effective ways to get the word out that the party is happening, it’s going to be epic, and that your brand is a big part of it.


Take a look at brand media buys already in place to see where there might be crossover in event audience demographics and reach. Find the consistencies, and repurpose a portion of your brand’s media spend towards sponsorship promotion. This doesn’t have to be a large amount of dollars; just enough to supplement what your brand and the tour are already actively doing to promote it.

Make sure there’s a fit between the existing media channels and the tour audience. Also, lean on new, custom creative and co-branded media assets. Repurposing co-branded creative amplifies the brand message without incurring additional costs.