We’re all still applauding live events despite the cost-of-living crisis


Global live events giant AEG’s tagline is ‘Giving the world reason to cheer’, and goodness knows we could all do with that right now.

Indeed, despite all our financial, security and pandemic-linked woes, it seems that live events are more essential than ever because they give us a moment to escape, cheer up, smile and forget about all the gloom and doom.

And for the brands that support live events, there’s a benefit, too, as Georgina Iceton, Vice President – Partnership Activation at AEG, explains… 

Georgina Iceton, AEG

With rising prices for housing, energy and food, many people in the UK are finding it harder to make ends meet each month – and with many tightening their purse strings, companies are worried about decreasing levels of consumer spending in the year ahead. 

What does that mean for the live events sector? While some organisers and promoters and sounding the death knell, it feels clear to us at AEG that the sector will continue to flourish – as long as the events and experiences provided are high quality, and delivery additional value for consumers. 

Summer in the park: Pink,& Stefani among the global names set for AMEX BST 2023.

Pre-sale volumes for American Express presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park – our flagship festival – have increased by 82% year-on-year. 

Why? Because consumers are still willing to invest in core life moments, luxuries and memories. 

Although people may not be able to make it to every festival, gig, event or experience on their list next year or the years that follow, they will invest in seeing their favourite artist or to have that one special day that can build memories they keep forever. 

We need look no further than ticket sales for Peter Kay’s recently announced residency to see the proof of this – tickets for every show through to 2025 were sold out within hours. 

Grand nights out: Audiences are packing out shows like Peter Kay’s hit tour despite recession.

If investing in an unforgettable experience is what is driving appetite for events, it is critical we deliver on that promise. 

Events need to provide quality and value for money, with the right artists and the right sponsorship activations in perfect balance. 

Focusing on being the best, rather than the biggest is where that value-add really comes in for consumers. 

What does this mean for marketeers?

Consumers aren’t the only ones facing tighter budgets in the year ahead. Marketing teams, whose budgets often go hand-in-hand with revenues, are also feeling the crunch. 

However, the latest report from IPA Bellwether revealed that marketers are continuing to prioritise investments and live events, despite making cuts to their big-ticket advertising spends and PR.

While commercial partnerships and sponsorships do not necessarily align directly to revenue, the benefits extend far beyond this. 

The impact on a brand can be astounding. For example, after the first year of a naming rights partnership, brand awareness has typically increased by 30%, with consideration increasing by 20%. 

And if the brand can engage with consumers in a meaningful way, favourability can increase by as much as 60%. 

However, slapping a brand name across a selection of events is not enough to make a partnership successful. 

Partnerships need to be authentic. They need to make sense, which means choosing a venue or experience that fits with your brand values or product, and more importantly, they need to enhance the customer experience.  

Brands and fans: Clever involvement in live events can be rewarding for brands.

How to get it right

At American Express presents British Summer Time in Hyde Park earlier this year, the best activation responses came from those that added value to the fan. 

For example, AMEX users received discounts on site, and provided reusable water bottles, which gave consumers better value for money and aligned with the increasingly environmentally-conscious attitudes of event-goers. 

Every partnership is built differently, but the main thing that underpins success is their understanding of their target audience. 

Consumers increasingly want to buy from brands whose values align with their own – and the activations need to reflect that. 

Brands that have researched their audience and have clear values of their own tend to get better results from their activations.

Ahead of Luno presents All Points East this year, Ray-Ban put on a series of intimate events with trending artists and Vodafone created an augmented reality filter for Elton John’s performance at BST. 

Both activations aligned perfectly with brand messaging, whilst elevating fans’ experiences of the festivals. 

It is all about creating moments that people love at the time and remember forever; get it right and they will connect the positive emotions they felt with the brand responsible. 

When consumers are being more selective about the events that they spend their money on, it pays dividends to not only take them on a journey, but enhance that journey. 

People remember the brands that were there with them, and are far more likely to consider and recommend them to others.