Events sponsorship in Bangkok usually goes either of these two ways. The first scenario is where the event is not owned by any one brand and usually receives co-sponsorship by several brands. In this event, brands happily place their logos on ads, tickets, and websites, on placards around event premises, and receive some sort of mention by the emcees as the event unravels. In such a scenario, the brand and event are typically detached from each other. The presence of the brand is usually not well integrated to the the event (ie. does nothing to enhance the experience), and either not noticed or becomes no more than a disruptive eyesore to the audience.
The second case is where one brand creates and owns the entire event. In this case, the event's theme is directed by the brand image written down by the marketing team, strictly following a specific colour template that fits with the brand's logo (think girls wearing uniforms that match the brand's logo), inviting a batch of celebrities most relevant to the brand values along with a slew of cameramen to cover the event for maximum PR. At the event, the brand's presence is all over the place, most of the time overwhelming and getting in the way of allowing people to simply hang out, have fun, and naturally connect with others and even the brand itself (the more you feel the brand is being forced down your throat, the more you resist it).
It was, therefore, an extremely refreshing experience to be at the HP Inter Action 'Art in Motion' Asia-Pacific tour that arrived in Bangkok on the night of Dec.4th. The two major draws of the event was Coldcut, a UK dance music + audiovisual artist duo also known for weaving political satire and social issues into their beats, and DJ Numark, member of the gold selling 'alternative' hip-hop group Jurassic 5. Now, mention these names to the average young Bangkok person and you'll get a blank face, even if he/she falls into the hip category and attends all the city's 'indie' events. However, talk to those who are the creators of the Bangkok party scene – the DJs, club owners/managers, musicians, artists, party organizers – and they'll tell you this is a not-to-be-missed event. By associating with Coldcut and DJ Numark, even as it might have alienated the more localized, larger mainstream follower group, the HP Inter Action event was speaking the same language as these passionate youth culture leaders who are part of the growing global youth tribe that Business Week calls 'Children of the Web'.
And passionate this crowd was. The event, also doubling as the launch party for the newly opened club '808' on RCA (formerly Club Astra, the once popular hangour of local hipsters before they moved to Club Culture) exploded with a raving crowd that consisted of around 50% farangs (who dominate the Bangkok clubbing scene anyway), 25% international school kids, and 25% truly local Thais who follow the international music scene. All attention was at its peak and fully focused on the DJ stage and the huge screens in front and lining both sides of the second floor balcony that drew the audience in with superb visuals (not music videos), when the screens smoothly displayed the message in funky fonts "HP Inter Action: The Computer Is Personal Again". The message had all eyes on it at a time when the audience's mindset was open and receptive. Those were the only brief but strong branding moments of the events, except for the INTERACTION t-shirts walking around and HP laptops used by the DJs (although we did notice one MacBook that looked like someone had tried cover up the Apple logo with stickers), and the fact that you had to register at the HP Inter Action site to get in for free.
It was one of those rare events was able to balance between branding and maintaining the integrity of the artists and the party itself, making indeed a personal connection with the consumer. “