Doug Herzog, president of Viacom Music, said it best in ’86 when he was vice president of MTV:
“Spring Break is a youth culture event. We wanted to be part of it for that reason.”
Music and Spring Break have gone together like freshmen and meal cards since the ‘80s, when MTV began its iconic Spring Break coverage back in 1986, forever entrenching music into the Spring Break experience.
Thirty years later, brands across the country are preparing their own Spring Break activations. To pre-game the revels a bit, we wanted to share a few cool ways that brands of any size, scale, or service can leverage music to further activate college-aged millennials during their Spring Break carousing.
Fear No FOMO (Day-Of Lead Time)
Go to any show and it’s immediately clear: the lighters held high above yesteryear’s concert crowds have wholly been replaced by the fluorescent screens of millennial smart phones.
Millennials yearn to extend their music experience well beyond the venue and into the news feeds of their friends’ social media. This feverish participation is fueled by FOMO, and it’s this “fear of missing out” on cool shit like music festivals and concerts that drives millennials to show up, share, and engage en masse across social media with fans and brands alike1.
Consider sending your hardworking millennial social media marketer to a music festival this Spring Break, such as Paradise Lost in Jamaica or Inception Music Festival in Cancun, and give her full reign over your brand’s social media channels. That authentic content may become the unofficial music dispatch of Spring Break for thousands of others also skirting FOMO.
Burritos > Banners (2-Week Lead Time)
Millennials won’t buy your shit just because a little sign above a big stage tells them to, but they may change their mind if the person on that stage loves your product.
Celebrities influence the purchasing decisions of at least 23% of millennials, making them twice as likely as Gen-Xers to say they’re influenced by celebrities, four times more likely than boomers, and ten times more likely than silents2. But that influence doesn’t come with the simple cut of a check – no artist with real influence would agree to a dry promotion for just a few bucks and no real value to them or their fans.
For its Feed the Beat program, Taco Bell sponsors its hand-selected community of emerging artists with free meals to Taco Bell whenever they’re on tour, earning crazy high engagement on social media, eliciting free and authentic word-of-mouth promotions from artists while they’re on stage, and building a brand now synonymous with the diet of an indie rocker.
Simple gestures like this outperform big banners by far – it’s just a matter of finding the right artist for you brand.
Think Locally, Connect Globally (2-Week Lead Time)
Millennials want to make a difference in the world, even during the bass drops of Spring Break, and they look to brands to curate worthy causes, such as supporting the music of local artists.
“Justice” was chosen by young people globally as the second highest-rated motivation, and this social awareness is reflected in their brand preferences as well3. The study shows that when companies support social issues, 91% of millennials respond with increased trust, 89% respond with increased loyalty, and 91% say they’re more likely to purchase that brand’s products. Supporting the local music of whatever Spring Break destination your brand is activating is a quick, easy, and engaging venture that will set your brand apart in a big way.
For example, in Fort Lauderdale local artists like Jezreel Sweet and JonFX might be performing down the street from the main stage at Pompano Beach. Or perhaps in Vegas, beyond the big-name acts that might be performing at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s venue, The Joint, local acts like Mokhov or American Cream might be taking up residence off the strip.
With much less effort and budget allocation than a global campaign to save the tigers (not to knock tigers – big fan), you can tap into two millennial passion points, justice and music, via a fun, worthy cause. Sponsor a show, or run a cool activation with those up-and-coming artists. This positions your brand as a curator of cool new music, something that millennials are always seeking, especially during Spring Break.
Beaches Make the Best Stages (4-Week Lead Time)
There’s a reason why dorm rooms are typically deprived of anything more than a broken laundry hamper and some tasteful head shop purchases: millennials are spending more time and money on live events, festivals, and concerts every year, according to EventBrite—and these are exactly the experiences they’ll be looking for this Spring Break as well.
There are a number of ways to activate a Spring Break destination with music, from paying a DJ to host a pool party to booking a stage on the beach for your hand-selected artists to perform on, and beyond. For the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Coca-Cola commissioned the design of The Beatbox Pavilion, a fusion of sport, music, and technology that created a multi-sensory experience for attendees. People could manipulate various Olympic-inspired sound-bytes like they might play an instrument and create their own remix.
The musical preferences of your target collegiate consumer will inform what music activation would be best suited for your brand. Blend that with the sonic identity of your brand and your stage on the beach will be more popping than the headliner’s.
The Spring Break Anthem (4-Week Lead Time)
“A piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head. It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person’s face in your mind’s eye,” said Petr Janata in his study, The Neural Architecture of Music-Evoked Autobiographical Memories4. “Now we can see the association between those two things – the music and the memories.”
Many hallmark occasions are connected to a song, and many savvy brands are taking advantage of that theory by creating custom music to soundtrack the lives of their consumers during these key moments.
Brand-developed custom music creates a unique brand equity, can include any desired lyric or melodic specifications, and can be leveraged across all markets.
The lucky brand who earns the association with Spring Break will have college kids all across the country singing their song throughout their week off, as well as long afterwards, too, as they recall the revels of #SpringBreak2016. Nostalgia never sounded so good.
Whether they’re on a road trip or a cruise ship, your collegiate consumer will want a stellar music experience. Find a way to make your mark with that music curation and hook them at first verse.
Like going to any party, there are always house rules to abide by, and we’re not just talking about no re-racks during beer pong (terrible rule). If your brand is planning on storming the beaches beside millennials this Spring Break, their house rules are quite clear – music is a requisite for entry. Curate those music experiences that your consumers are yearning for this Spring Break and earn your brand the loyalty of a whole generation of trendsetting consumers just as they’re entering the market.