There's a fantastic book called Spectacle by the architect David Rockwell. It's about those sweaty, immediate, mass-of-humanity, you-had-to-be-there experiences that you simply can't digitise, replicate or repeat. Events like the Indy 500 or Glastonbury or the Burning Man Festival in the US or the Tomatina tomato chucking fiesta in Spain. Rockwell points out how valuable these events are in an age where every bit of media you can think of is available to everyone, pretty much for free, pretty much whenever they want it. The specialness of the live, the personal and the unrepeatable is an increasingly desirable quality. You can see people hunting for something of that specialness when they turn up to Henman Hill to watch tennis or crowd round screens in parks for the rugby or the proms. They could be comfortable at home with their own telly, but we love the communality of these things.
So you can understand why brands have such envy of events like Innocent Smoothie's Summer Fete. There's not quite as much naked chainsaw juggling as at Burning Man but it's still a rather unique and delightful couple of days; days which must build a huge amount of good will and affection for the brand. Plus countless opportunities for trialling product, meeting their customers and creating relationships with partners. Just as Nike are building community and commitment through events like Run London or Super Sonic, or as O2 are creating awareness and demonstrating the possibilities of their services via their takeover of The Dome. And part of the specialness of these real-world brand properties and events is that the physical world of time and stadiums is much more limited than the seemingly infinite media universe. There are only so many weekends available in the Royal Parks and only so many large, empty domes in Greenwich - and Innocent and O2 have got one of them booked. These brands, and others, with a commitment to creating events and real-world occasions around which they can market are also getting an edge with a whole new set of skills. They're finding partners who can help them negotiate the murky world of music promoters, they're learning how many toilets you need per thousand people per field and they're discovering who you have to be nice to at which local authority.
As the digital media landscape becomes more accessible and universal, bigger budgets aren't going to guarantee you better access to your customers than your rivals have. They'll certainly help. But much more of your ability to communicate will depend upon your creativity and in the skills and experience you develop in creating real-world spectacle around your brand. Failing that maybe you could take up naked chainsaw juggling.