Peter Decuypere is the organiser of the Belgian dance festival I Love Techno. Today he shares his renewing view on event marketing.
Hi Peter, welcome in our studio.
You did write a book: We Love Events. We start with a small story in the book and I thought it was funny. It's a guy saying: "I want to go to boom". What's that story about?
Well, I was in Paris for a League of Legends-event. So the game, League of Legends, is doing events. And there was a guy from Brazil coming to me, and we were talking and I said: "I'm from Belgium". "You're from Belgium?" He knows Belgium. "I want to go to boom." "You want to go to boom?" "Yes, I want to go to Boom, where Tomorrowland is!" "Ah Boom!" "Yes, Boom! Boom!" Boomboom, it's already the music. But so it was amazing. The guy's association with Belgium and Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland is a bigger land than... It's more known than Belgium. That's the power of event marketing. And right now we have the social media and Facebook and Instagram and so on. And Youtube, eh? That makes that people all over the world can participate in the conversation event.
But even then, how does it come that a small... Well, it started small. A small Belgian festival becomes world-famous.
Well, I think that... If you know Manu and Michiel Beers, the two promoters or organizers of the festival, they just had a vision, a vision that we; the old school promoters that did I Love Techno, we didn't see that one coming. They already knew that experience and story-telling were very important elements in organizing events in the 21st century. So they knew that it was not only about the music. That is was about values, transferring values and connecting people into communities.
Because booking an act: everybody can do that.
Everybody can do it. You cannot make a difference in making a line-up. The line-up...
If you have the money of course. It's rather expensive these days.
Yes, but now with the DJ culture, the only thing they need is a USB-stick. So it's... If you want to book Rammstein, that's difficult, because you have to have the venue, you have to have the production capacity, and so on. That's difficult. With DJs, the only thing they need is a USB-stick, or a WiFi-connection, to get the tracks. So it's a lot easier now to book David Guetta, if you have the money and of course the right event. But it means that making the difference with the Steve Aoki's, with the Ritchie Hawtin's; it's very difficult. You see a lot of line-ups with big names, events, and they don't work.
So the difference is then the story-telling. And that's why also, you call it the online conversation...?
The conversation management. It's a conversation event. You have the real-time event and that's the event that takes place in a particular place, a particular time, and so on. It starts and it finishes. But the conversation event goes on and on on the internet, on the World Wide Web. It never stops. It means that you have to keep on transferring those values, that story-telling, into the World Wide Web. So it never stops.
And what about the classic marketing means? The posters, the flyers... We all started with that when we did marketing.
Yes, yes, and they are still important. But now for Tomorrowland Brazil, I'm sure they didn't put any posters in Brazil. Maybe they did, but still. It's not the main thing. But if you start an event like here with Tomorrowland just in 2011, you still could find the flyers and posters all over Belgium. So to start an event, you still need the classic media.
And take for example a poster. What makes a poster a good poster?
Well, a good poster... What I do with a poster: there are two things. I do a car-test. It means that you have to think about the poster sitting in a car. And seeing a poster. So if this is the poster and you're in your car, you just have like... How much? A couple of seconds to get attention-interest-desire. The classic one. The action; you will not buy a ticket because... But then it has to transfer the message, the value of your event, in the shortest possible time. That's a good poster. It means that you have to put not 13 May, but Wednesday, Friday or Saturday 13 May. So is the entertainment really going in the fastest possible way? That's a good poster. And you have the second test, and that is the toilet-test.
What's the toilet test about?
It means that you are in a toilet. We men, women I don't know... But if you're in a toilet and you look at a poster... You don't look next to you, eh? You should not do it. And then you have the poster just in front of you. Then you have like 30 seconds, one minute, then you have to get attention-interest-desire and action. It has to be a conversation starter. There has to be something on that poster that takes you to the World Wide Web. "Oh yes, I get a discount." "Oh yes, there is a QR-code. I will take my mobile phone." Check! That is a good poster. So you do the car-test and the toilet-test and then you have a good poster.
We were talking about booking acts and so on. I read that in 1995 you booked Daft Punk for a very small amount.
Yes, we paid for Daft Punk 500 French francs. So that's about 3,000 Belgian francs; that's 75 euros. And even that amount of money was too much for Daft Punk at that time. 75 euros... If Daft Punk was alone on the line-up, maybe there would have been like 10 people. Nobody knew Daft Punk. But I saw Daft Punk in Paris, a couple of months before the first I love Techno. And they were so amazing. I didn't know them. I was there I think with Laurent Garnier and some friends. And I saw that act coming up and said: "they will be huge!" I never thought that they would become SO huge. But they will become huge. "They will attract at least 500 people!" One day. One day there will be 500 people interested in Daft Punk, so I have booked them. And they were just like... I went to them and said: "I want you to come to Belgium".
Not 'the boom', because 'Boom' was not known then. "I want you to come to Belgium, to Brussels". And they were just happy; their international career was taking off. So I think it was one of the first gigs they did abroad, if not the first gig they did. Not Brussels, in Ghent, for the first time. I booked them for Fuse and then for I Love Techno, yeah. But how important is it for an event organizer to also look for that kind of new acts. I think that's very important. If you don't feel that something can become huge, that something has so much value... And it's easy nowadays; you have Spotify, you have Youtube, you have Soundcloud, so you can check for yourself. Or otherwise you take someone next to you who is really into it, cutting edge. But that's the nice thing: looking for new talents and bringing them to a festival or bringing them to your stage...
But it’s the festivals and events that make those bands big.
Yes, the festivals make the artists, and the artists make the festivals. It's a synergetic way, huh? Like David Guetta is getting big thanks to Tomorrowland and Tomorrowland is getting bigger thanks to David Guetta. He tells everybody he comes on every other festival, he says: "I was at Boom", like that guy from Brazil. "I was at Boom and it's really amazing what those guys are doing." And a guy like Steve Aoki, he's like: "ahh, I also want to go to Boom". So if those guys call me, I want to do that festival. So the festival is getting bigger, and the names are getting bigger through the festival. So it's a synergetic way of getting bigger.
We were now talking about big events, festivals... But do the same principles apply to small events?
Definitely, Tomorrowland was a small event. I Love Techno was a small event. We started with Daft Punk with 600 people in Ghent in the Vooruit. And it's because we had some very clear views on values. A set of values and a good story-telling that makes those events getting bigger and bigger. Even if you do a small event in your village, just start with thinking of some values that you want to give through your festival. And if you will give it to the people coming, it will make a community. And a community, that's an event.
And can you give an example of such a value?
Well, if you take the local Boy Scouts... If they do an event, they also can choose some values. The value can be: local, social, doing something for Nepal, where we now have an earthquake, or whatever. Do something social, do something local, do something with your history of an event. History is story-telling. So if you have local Scouts doing events for 20 years; do something with it. And then you can transfer those values through the social media and you get a conversation event with a lot of value and a real-time event with a lot of value. Story-telling works. The internet is begging for stories. The social media are begging for good stories.
Peter, thank you very much for coming over.
And you at home; thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week!