Events showcase media brands in action

Publishers can offer clients the unique opportunity to connect with ready-made audiences on a physical level by creating events from their own verticals, Fairfax Media director of marketing services Andrew McEvoy said ahead of this week’s opening of Spectrum Now.

The publisher has partnered with ANZ for the inaugural festival of arts and entertainment and Mr McEvoy said media companies were “one step ahead” of other events companies because they had no need to build an audience from scratch.

“A lot of the brands that work with us want to talk directly with consumers,” Mr McEvoy told The Newspaper Works, “which means that [consumers] are turning up at events and seeing these brands in action.

“There are also ways of making money beyond sponsorship and partnership which opens up further commercial opportunities for Fairfax.”

Fairfax and other publishers have had events businesses for a long time, Mr McEvoy said, but until recently, they mostly went down the media partner route.

Now, Mr McEvoy said, “they’re owning and running those events and taking total revenue from them. The great thing about media companies is they have an audience, and you can bring that audience to your event.”

Fairfax Media has created successful events from verticals including food with events such as Good Food Month and the Night Noodle Markets, sport with the popular One To Run and ocean swim events, business including events held by the Financial Review, and more recently Essential Kids with the purchase of the Baby and Toddler Show franchise in Sydney and Melbourne. The creation of Spectrum Now, to showcase the popular weekend arts and entertainment section, was a natural progression, Mr McEvoy said.

Spectrum Now creative director Richard Roxburgh has described it as a “festival of everything”, from music and food to theatre and even gardening. “It’s a way of bringing to life what you see on the pages of Spectrum every weekend,” Mr McEvoy said.

Fairfax has had a long history of events – one of its first, Sydney’s City2Surf, turns 45 this year and now attracts 85,000 participants, with other One To Run races spreading across Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne.

“We’ve put all these events under one umbrella, make them great things for partners to be involved in, sponsors, advertisers as well as great things for consumers to participate in,” Mr McEvoy said.

The power for events to connect participants with clients also strengthens consumer relationships with publishers’ own brands. Fairfax events have attracted a younger audience who might not otherwise connect with its publications, he said.

Fairfax’s events division has almost tripled its staff since Mr McEvoy joined the company in late 2013 from his post leading Tourism Australia, and has a revenue target of $100 million in the next two or three years. It currently raises around $25 million in annual revenue.

Events businesses have been a key growth area for publishers, with NZME. launching its events business earlier this year.

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