Marketing what was once a live music event and has evolved, for the time being, into a hybrid virtual event, presents a new set of challenges. At the Montreux Jazz Festival, one of the most important musical events in the world, this year’s hybrid approach requires a skilful marketing touch.
I recently asked the CEO of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Mathieu Jaton, to explain how the festival’s marketing strategies have been refined for 2021.
Paul Talbot: Give us a history lesson… how has the marketing of the festival evolved since the first festival organized at the Casino de Montreux in 1967?
Mathieu Jaton: The festival was born from a marketing idea in the first place! Claude Nobs, the founder of the festival, worked for the tourist office of the city of Montreux and wanted to organize an event to promote the destination.
This is how the festival was born, and for many years it remained organized and funded by the city tourism authorities. Even today, it is thanks to the festival that Montreux is known the world over.
The Montreux Jazz Festival brand has become an international benchmark by offering artists audio and video cassettes of concerts recorded in Montreux. There are thousands of live performance CDs, vinyls and DVDs recorded at the festival that have marked and continue to mark musicians around the world. This allowed the festival to have a very strong resonance in the USA and Brazil, and to organize relocated versions of the festival there.
But the festival’s best marketing tool remains the relationship. Claude had it in his blood, he knew how to welcome artists and the public, and create relationships that lasted his entire life. This value of hospitality is still at the heart of the MJF today.
Today, we are taking a new turn in the evolution of the festival in order to achieve a hybrid model between physical event and digital content, using tools such as social networks, streaming platforms and new creative partners. of content.
Talbot: Who are your main marketing partners for the festival and how to align your respective goals?
Jaton: All our partners are our best marketing allies. The idea is not simply to take advantage of their platforms to spread the image of the festival, but rather to create joint projects that allow the two brands to shine, as through the Fairmont World Tour, a world concert tour organized at Fairmont hotels on four continents in February 2020.
Talbot: How has the festival’s marketing been redesigned to support the goals of this year’s “redesigned” festival?
Jaton: Each year the festival has its own unique setup and this year is no different. The redesigned festival reflects the fact that Covid has shaped the world in a new way and adapting to that has meant reinventing the audience experience both at the event and online.
To launch MJF2021 marketing, MJF wanted to support the global art community and build on the success of the 2020 “ Silent Shores ” poster competition, offering cash prizes as well as the opportunity to present 30 works of art. during the festival.
The partnership with Vaudois Assurances asked the artists to reinvent MJF2021 under the “RESTART” banner. This prompted 1,935 artists from 54 countries to submit their posters on a world ready to restart.
With travel restrictions and artists not touring in the traditional way, this meant creating a new performance setup that allowed people to continue sharing their music in a different environment.
To ensure Covid compliance but without compromising on the experience, MJF has designed a new lake stage with stadium seating that will present the performers in a unique configuration with the surrounding mountains as a backdrop while the stage is in. Lake.
The marketing of this year’s festival will be focused on the rise of our digital offer and its accessibility to all, in Switzerland and internationally, by being broadcast live for free on the MJF Facebook page, on the Stingray platform. Qello and on the artist pages to allow as many people as possible to view this spectacular installation and listen to world class music with the best audio and visual output.
Talbot: Are there specific challenges this year’s marketing was designed to address?
Jaton: The obvious point is personal safety and Covid compliance, so there will naturally be a lot of communication about how the festival complies with Swiss government guidelines to ensure the festival runs smoothly and the freedom to enjoy the ambiance.
Dealing with the fact that this year will have a very limited capacity for participation will be an area that we know to be a challenge. We have a great marketing and customer service team who will educate people on how to buy tickets or access free streams and provide surround content to generate excitement for the event on our social media and partner channels. We have a dedicated social media team to handle issues in real time and make people feel supported.
But above all, our greatest wish is that the artists, our audience, our partners, our volunteers and our team can come together, in the flesh, after more than a year spent far from each other. Rediscovering part of this intimacy dear to Montreux, this is our biggest challenge.