Events will be different, but how different?

It’s safe to say that live events will be different for some time. 

Fans know it. Organisers know it. Advertisers know it.

With lockdown officially easing and a potential return to near-normality by the 21st June, it’s time to explore:

     - What events might look like this Spring and beyond

     - Who the winners are going to be

     - How advertising could change

Just don’t forget your umbrella or wellington boots - they’re going nowhere!

1. Whoever wins, safety is the top priority

Outdoors is clearly the name of the game for the foreseeable future whether you’re arranging an event past the 17th May and 21st June ‘lockdown lift’ milestones, or advertising at them. 

This means space, and lots of it. No organiser will want to be known as a super spreader in this cautious time period simply because they didn’t put enough social distancing in place.

As a result, events are going to be controlled affairs with audiences facing one-way-systems, attendee limits, heavy stewardship, inflatable walls, and staggered exit and entry times when they do return later this year. 

The result of all of this is that people will be distracted as they are funnelled along set routes. They are less likely to notice on-site advertising as they’ll be conscious of bumping into people and sticking to the rules.

Smaller audiences also mean brands will need their advertising to perform even more effectively because there will be fewer heads to turn. 

2. Hybrid events will dominate

Hybrid events are the future too. By hybrid, we mean events that let a small in-person audience into a venue while streaming online globally to the remainder of fans. 

Developments like Fortnite’s mega in-game concerts or superstar DJs performing on YouTube have proven that there is an appetite for digital experiences, so event organisers will need to get creative to coax people back.

They will need to offer fresh, exciting and responsible experiences for those hankering for in-person events while at the same time cater to people who want to be more cautious for the time being.   

3. Travelling to events will be different 

Expect people to dodge public transport and drive instead, at least for the short-term. 

Once parked, audiences will congregate from wherever they can find a parking space, winding along residential roads to arrive at multiple venue entrance points. 

This has a direct effect on outdoor advertising as lots of people will travel along non-traditional routes with little to no OOH real estate.  

The key question for all sponsor brands (as well as those not sponsoring) is how to target these people effectively.

4. The winners will be digital

Contactless payments, digital ticketing, virtual merch, moveable advertising, QR-codes, drive-thru events - all of these formats will see success. 

Queuing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers at the festival bar could well be replaced with a mobile queue. Bring-your-own-drinks may be allowed. Just because people will be able to go to events doesn’t mean crowd control innovations that have happened will be abandoned.

Marvelling at the lead sponsor’s OOH display draped over the event’s entrance could be a thing of the past too. Perhaps it will be replaced by an agile constantly moving fleet of branded cars that extends into the digital realm. 

What do you think events will look like? 

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