Next year’s Techfest, the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay’s (IIT-B) annual technology festival will be awash with a supply of Big Cola. Little known Big Cola, a Latin American soft drink giant, came into India a year ago, but is yet to make a splash. A big promotional foot forward includes being one of the sponsors at the institute’s technology festival, to get the buzz going about the relatively unknown cola. The company will distribute free samples on campus.
“We are focussing on Mumbai and our main intention is to give the youth a taste of our product,” said Kranti Khanderkar, media manager for the company in India. “We didn’t want to just come with a boom and then disappear. We are coming slowly and steadily.”
College festivals, with increased footfalls every year and bigger and better extravaganzas, are ideal spots for companies to home in on their target audiences. From bigger prizes to bigger platforms, sponsors and colleges are tweaking their festivals to accommodate more innovative promotional activities.
Technovanza, the annual technology festival of Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Matunga is this year scouting for a prominent technology company to tie up with and hopes to find one seeking to launch a technological product at the fest. “Launching a product raises the bar of an event,” said Akshat Sandh, the chief executive officer of the festival.
Last year VJTI had Harley Davidson come in, offer students bike rides and generally raise interest levels on campus. This year, a new series of Hero bikes will be showcased at Mood-Indigo, with bikes also being offered as prizes.
If Malhar had Nokia organising a game through setting up a large glass dome and then offering phones as prizes, Mood-I will go one step ahead. This year, they have one sponsor showcase interactive technology that will allow visitors to carry an armband that will directly link updates and photographs from the festival to their Facebook accounts. It will also flash them on big screens around campus, giving the sponsor Colgate Plax an opportunity for subtle branding.
At some festivals, specific events or competitions are aligned with the companies’ interests or strategies. For instance, at the NM College festival Umang a few years ago, one of the sponsors, Parle, had a Twenty- Twenty cricket match in line with its Twenty Twenty biscuit brand. “That way their brand gets incorporated in our event,” said Neha Madhani, head of public relations at Umang 2011.
For companies, there are the hidden benefits as well. For instance, after one company participated as a sponsor at Techfest 2011, it became a top choice company for student recruitment this year, after having very few takers last year. “People didn’t know the brand last year, this year the same company got a phase one slot during placements,” said Ronnie Philip, media manager at Techfest 2012.
However, it isn’t just about how much space a sponsor gets on campus, said students. “We don’t want to sell out completely,” said Akash Goel, head of marketing for Mood-Indigo 2011. “We want to encourage innovative, unusual activities which increase the festival spirit on campus.”