Acquiring sponsors for a live event can be huge for an organization’s bottom line. Music Festivals in particular have become prime real estate for brands to want to utilize in person experiences in their yearly advertising campaigns. Total North American sponsorship spending topped over $23 billion in 2017 and was projected to grow by at least 3% according to IEG. With numbers like this, leveraging sponsors can be very lucrative for an event. However, balancing the right amount of brand involvement while maintaining the authentic feel of the festival can be tricky. Many have events have begun to move away from billboards and branded stages to more experience driven activations. One event in particular that is taking extra care to ensure that the sponsors and partners seamlessly integrate with the festival ethos is Envision Festival in Costa Rica.
Envision Festival takes place every February in Costa Rica. The festival focuses on immersing attendees in a unique experience. From the festival itself, its “aim is to inspire one another through the collective participation in art, spirituality, yoga, music, dance, performance, education, regenerative strategies and our fundamental connection with nature.”
The festival has a heavy concentration on eco-building and ensuring its impact on the local environment is minimized. This means that one of the main focuses for their team was ensuring that the sponsors and partners worked with closely the festival operations and build teams. For example, rather than temporary tents, bamboo structures were constructed on site for each activation. This takes careful planning but with the right mindset and team in place, it can be done successfully. Julie Fedenkoff, head of sponsorships and partnerships at Envision Festival answered some questions on how her team managed not only sourcing local and international brands but also created activations that seamlessly integrated advertising did not deter from the overall experience of the festival.
This year Envision Family Members Partners were Costas Verdes (Costa Rica) VIDA Blue Clay (CR), and Costa Rica Makes Me Happy.Sponsors this year were CANNA, Evo Hemp, Selina (CR)), The Kula Collective, SlackTech, Bohio Coffee Roasters (CR). Atma Prem (CR), Dave’s Hippy Oil, Grateful Dude’s Healing Balm, Rainforest Water (CR), ECOTEAS, Eno Costa Rica (CR), Tikombucha (CR), Jahmu Chai, Bambuddha, Guayaki, Kombucha Culture (CR), Brain Garden, and Ricante. In addition the exclusive sponsor content provider was Fifer Garbesi. There are a host of other partners and what they lovingly call “Homies”, these can all be found on their website.
Please tell us a little bit about your background.
"I’ve worked in the Event Marketing world for almost a decade. My main focus has been in Experiential Marketing, although I’ve had a love of festivals for a very long time. Our team has a wide variety and years of successful experience in the industry as a whole. Each person has a unique set of skills they bring to the table, we are not one individual person, we create an impressive team together."
Does the festival have a sponsorship department? How big is your team?
"This year, Envision has put a lot of work into creating a dedicated Sponsor & Partnership Team. Envision’s relationship with Sponsors and Partners has been deeply rooted in the past and continues to grow every year. They are members of the Envision Family, carefully vetted to ensure that they represent our collective values and are aligned with our vision. Between longtime team members, interns and volunteers we grew to around 15 people during showtime."
Have you run a sponsorship program for a festival in the US before? If so, what were some of the main differences compared to working with sponsors at a festival in Costa Rica?
"This is my first time developing a new sponsorship program. Bringing Sponsors and Partners from the US and around the world, to the jungle definitely has its challenges. Communication and planning have to be approached in a far different way due to the resources and conditions in Costa Rica. Education is one of our greatest tools in this process. Envision replaces pop-up tents and banners with crafted bamboo structures and hand painted signs. This helps generate excitement and new collaboration ideas to our Sponsors."
"In addition, every department and team are an integral part of making not only the Sponsor and Partner experience successful, but the festival as a whole. We work closely with our Operations and Build Team months in advance to create gorgeous structures from locally sourced materials. Our Deco Team designs and adorns these structures with beautiful fabrics, lights and handcrafted furniture. Our Sales Team curates spaces to relax and rest during downtime. Our Marketing team brings the festival to life for all of the world to see. Our PR team is an amazing behind the scenes machine connecting us to people so we are able to share these stories. Our F&B team gives keeps our strength up and gives us life through “Jungle Aide” & coffee. I could list out every team and the amazing ways we all work together to create this epic experience, it would go on for ages!
Events never go exactly as planned and the jungle makes no exceptions. That being said, our team are masters of quick thinking and coming up with creative solutions on the fly. The beauty of things not going according to plan is you have an amazing opportunity for organic, genuine experiences. It’s these sort of experiences that contribute to Envision being so unique."
How did you navigate the ethos of the festival with the goals of the sponsors?
"Our 2019 Envision Partners & Sponsors have been hand curated by our Sponsorship Team. Staying true to our Ethos by excellence in their craft, dedication to sustainable processes and materials as well as their over ideals as an organization. Each Sponsor and Partner organization is unique in their own way of having a commitment, drive, and passion to each of our 8 Pillars: Permaculture, Spirituality, Movement, Art, Music, Community, Health, and Radical Acceptance.
These epic Envision family members are brands that stand for a purpose, passionately educate their followers, all while giving back to sustainability and environmental efforts within their communities."
What were some of the projects you are most proud of? What were some of the biggest challenges you/your team had to overcome?
"As a whole, I think Envision was a huge success this year for our Sponsors and Partners. They were able to reach people at the event in ways that did not exist until now. I’m proud of the experiences we were able to create for guests as a new team. Some that had the biggest impact on me personally were the Tree Planting Ceremony with Costas Verdes, the CANNA Tea Lounge, the EVO Hemp treehouse and lounge, VIDA Blue Clay’s body painting, our new Envision App, and our Wave Brigade.
Most of our team was new to the Envision Family this year. When coming into anything for the first time there are always bumps in the road, but they are simply experiences from which we learn. Having a willingness to adapt, grow, and be creative can overcome any challenge, especially with a loving family to guide you along the way."