By James Manning
After a successful 2014 Global Tour that started in Sydney and then visited Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas, Nova’s Red Room has just wound up its 2015 tour in Sydney after hitting Dublin, London, Dubai and wrapping in Sydney.
Mediaweek was a guest of Nova again this year, sampling first-hand what the competition winners got to see – getting an intimate look at some of the world’s biggest musical artists in some of the world’s great cities, seeing the Nova team in action and learning from them how to ignore some fierce jet lag.
Nova’s main partners this year were again Optus and Qantas, with help from Dubai Tourism for the stop-over in the United Arab Emirates. While all of the artists on the bill last year were from the Sony Music stable, Nova was working with Warner Music this year. Billy MacLeod – vice president promotions and publicity at Warner Music and Brayden Crossley – head of artist relations – Warner Music were both on the tour to look after their artists. (Does that mean it is Universal’s turn in 2016?)
Nova’s Tony Thomas
Nova’s chief marketing and digital officer, and the key executive behind the Red Room, was only able to see the Sydney and Los Angeles legs of the 2014 Nova’s Red Room Global Tour. This year Thomas took in the whole trip starting in Dublin. With all Nova employees taking on additional duties for the trip, Thomas also looked after transportation of the Nova media wall!
Mediaweek spoke with Thomas in a busy cobbled laneway outside one of his favourite Covent Garden pubs on the day before the London Red Room.
“This year the destinations are so varied, unique and interesting I couldn’t help but come on the tour. Because there are so many important content requirements this year, and more artists on the bill, to be there hands-on ensuring we are delivering for our partners made it important to be there.”
As to the key Nova Entertainment executives making Nova’s Red Room Global Tour work, Thomas started with music marketing director Claire Marshall: “She is the liaison with Warners Music, the artists and their management and she is hugely important. Group marketing manager Leanne Glamuzina looks after the logistics of the tour and making sure the listeners have the best experience they can. Megan Hales and Ash Minchin work with clients to make sure those clients get what they need and the sponsorship deliverables are happening. We also have the digital production team who capture the content and then go and edit much of the night to make sure it is delivered to where it has to go.
“Everyone on the tour is doing a very specific job and while it feels like a large party, there is no one on the tour who doesn’t have a clearly defined role to play.”
The key win for Optus, the major Global Tour partner, is linking with artists, a relationship that money usually can’t buy. “We have a brand we take to artists around the world and those artists are endorsing us, like Ed Sheeran, who was meant to do a 30-minute set and ended up doing close to 90 minutes. He was genuinely impressed with the effort we had gone to travelling so far and he gave back. It is the best marketing exercise we could ever have. To have competition winners literally crying because of what they were experiencing was something marketers could only dream of.
“Marketing is becoming more about tighter relationships and building really strong emotional connections with people who will effectively become your lifelong advocates. There is no more powerful marketing than word-of-mouth and if you deliver an incredible experience to people they will pay you back.”
The Red Room achieves several Nova goals. “While we are a big broadcasting business, we also have to deliver experiences that are completely intimate. The Nova brand has been very successful – it is a strong media brand, it is really well defined and every touchpoint around the brand has to be consistent.”
Nova’s Megan Hales
As head of the commercial partnership team, Hales not only works on the Nova brand, but smoothfm as well. “Nova’s Red Room was one of the key properties we looked at when we built the team,” Hales told Mediaweek in Dubai during Nova’s Red Room Global Tour. “It has become a strong brand in its own right giving lots of opportunity to work with partners. This year that brand has grown as we work with new partners in new ways. Depending on what the client objectives are, the brand can change and evolve.
“The event is just one part of the association. There is the lead-up which can include content and engaging with the partners’ social audience or customer database and giving them the opportunity to win tickets. Optus is a great example of this on the Global Tour where we gave two of their pre-paid customers the opportunity to travel on the tour.”
Because of the multiple opportunities for partners, reporting on an event’s success takes time. “We start with the reach-through to the publicity and earned media. We will spend a lot of time going through every component and look at what the deliverables were.”
Other Nova Entertainment events include the smooth Festival of Chocolate which for its second year is involving more commercial partners – expect an announcement on that any day.
Hales said it was a fine line launching new partner opportunities without saturating the market. “We don’t want to clutter the market, but there are plenty of new opportunities we are exploring and there is space to grow them. We start with the client first and build it in a unique manner so it is not a carbon copy of anything else we do.”
When it comes to Red Room, Hales emphasised it is just not a radio play any more. “It takes us into a true entertainment space which creates more opportunity, but it is becoming more competitive because music is such a powerful passion point for businesses.”
Without revealing too much detail, Hales noted there were some exciting events ahead for 2016.
Hales’ highlight of this tour: “Ed Sheeran – getting an artist of that calibre in an intimate environment really showcased what Red Room is about.
Mediaweek spoke to Smallzy’s Surgery host and Red Room Global Tour MC Kent “Smallzy” Small in Dubai and he chose Ed Sheeran as his music highlight halfway through the tour. Of the places the tour has stopped at, Smallzy has become a fan of Dubai. “It’s like Las Vegas – it’s a bit like Disneyland too. It’s larger than life and no expense has been spared. For me it’s usually been a stopover and in the past I have never left the airport.”
Smallzy said his Nova evening audience loves all the artists that have been appearing on the Global Tour. Perhaps with the exception of Craig David, who he admits was the surprise package of the tour.
Smallzy noted that Aston Merrygold has the potential to be a massive pop artist and he has recently gone top 10 on iTunes in Australia. Merrygold was part of boy band JLS who were runners-up on the UK X Factor. Merrygold is working the PR circuit hard. He flew into Dubai from London for Nova, flew out less than 24 hours later to Manchester and then was back on a flight to Australia for The X Factor soon after.
THE INTERVIEW ED SHEERAN did with Smallzy has been picked up around the world. It ran in the New York Post on Page 6, plus was picked up by TMZ (which used the Nova footage) plus a raft of other international outlets. “It’s possibly the biggest piece of publicity we have ever had.”