Connect Your Brand with Cultured Millennials: Surf the Waves of Cultural Sponsorship

Ever wonder why music festivals feature logos of financial institutions, or why alcohol brands sponsor sports events? While it might seem incongruous at first glance, sponsorship marketing works on a psychological level. It creates positive brand associations in a subtle and organic manner, as opposed to traditional advertising which is often perceived as invasive.

Forming Symbiotic Brand Associations

Successful brands don’t sell what they do; they sell the values behind what they do. Red Bull does it exceptionally well. Their contact page for cultural sponsorship reads as follows:

No matter if it's music, art, film or breakdance, Red Bull gives wings to creative people and their ideas in many areas. For any questions about our culture projects or any new concept ideas you would like to realize with Red Bull, please fill out the form below and include a description why your proposal is something special and would fit to Red Bull.

The first sentence says it all. “Red Bull gives wings to creative people and their ideas”a direct association with creative types which reinforces the brand’s tagline, “Red Bull Gives You Wings”. The emphasis on the right fit between the event/project and the brand further underscores the company’s selective approach in forming symbiotic brand associations.

Global Sponsorship Spending Continues to Grow

IEG — an industry leader in sponsorship research — has projected that global sponsorship spending will grow 4.7% in 2016, generating $60.2 billion total spending. North America (the world’s largest sponsorship market) is estimated to spend a total of $22.4 billion, with $970 million on arts sponsorship and a further $878 million on festivals, fairs and annual events. 2016’s growth rate tops the last 3 years, indicating increasing popularity of sponsorship as an avenue for brands to tap into international audiences.


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Targeted International Exposure: Cultured Millennials

But it’s not just about international exposure. Sponsors benefit from targeted international exposure to a specific audience, based on the type of event. The Berlin Student Film Festival (BSFF) for example, being an international student event, appeals to both cultured millennials and the global film community. 

Brands partnering with BSFF will be featured prominently in marketing collaterals and media advertising, with exposure to a database of 10,000 art-specific subscribers. Factor in social media sharing and word-of-mouth marketing amongst film students worldwide, and you end up with far-reaching ripple effects. 

Case in point being the Show Us Your Type (SUYT) contest and exhibition event organised and produced by kulturspace over the summer of 2016. The event’s 3-month long online campaign brought in over 2,500 guests, poster design submissions from 30 countries, and generated a total reach of over 283,000 people through social media.

This sentiment is shared by Elena Peters, Social Media Content Manager at sygns GmbH (a company producing handmade Neon light installations). Peters commented that “Since the company’s inception in 2014, we have been a firm supporter of global cultural activities in film, fashion, art and music. BSFF being an initiative to help budding film producers share stories, we are more than happy to be a part of it.” 

The Cool Factor

One of the biggest challenges for most corporate brands is to align themselves with forward trends and activities. By sponsoring cultural events such as art, music and film festivals, brands are immediately perceived as cool and progressive. 

Alex Holz, Area Manager, International Service at AOK Nordost in Berlin, shared some insights into AOK’s partnership with BSFF. “Health insurance isn’t a sexy topic; most people avoid talking about it, especially the younger generation. By aligning the brand with cool events such as BSFF and SUYT (Show Us Your Type), we get an opportunity to interact with young people and creatives. With this medium we also get an organic chance to connect with the expat community and help them navigate the complexities of German bureaucracy.” 

Holz further commented that such partnerships allowed the organisation to be a part of the growing cultural movement in Berlin, a cause strongly supported by AOK Nordost.

Social and Environmental Causes Inspire Trust and Loyalty

The 2013 Cone Communications Social Impact Study found that companies supporting social and environmental issues gained 91% increased trust and 89% increased loyalty of ordinarily skeptical Millennials. Just as common interests draw like-minded individuals together, supporting shared causes paves the way for meaningful interactions between a brand and its target audience. 

Sophisticated Branding

Sponsoring cultural events gives a brand the added benefit of sophistication. Creative projects place great emphasis on the visual and experiential aspects of their event design, due to the artistic nature of the creative industry. The discerning target audience would also expect nothing less.   

Cost-effective Global Marketing

By collaborating with synergistic partners on a common cause, the event organiser and partnering brands get international exposure while sharing the costs of an otherwise exorbitant global marketing campaign. 

Steve Adams, General Manager for California & Nevada at Ferguson, sees his company’s sponsorship of BSFF as “an organic yet cost-effective way for Ferguson and the Trane line of heating and cooling equipment to tap into new international audiences, especially young homeowners”. 

There’s no denying that cultural sponsorship is a highly effective and organic avenue for brands to engage with cultured Millennials in a meaningful way, and will continue to grow in prominence for the foreseeable future. 

The Berlin Student Film Festival is currently looking for like-minded brands to participate in our inaugural 2017 Festival. Talk to us for more details.

Managed and produced by kulturspace, the Berlin Student Film Festival is a nonprofit organisation aimed at inspiring and encouraging emerging filmmakers through a constructive and professional festival, showcasing their work to prestigious industry leaders. Open call for submissions ends on 31 January 2017. 

SponsorLindy Siu