Like a Hybrid Over Troubled Water

Monkey Tennis
Managing Partner David Atkinson predicts the rise and rise of specifically curated hybrid events, geared at attracting ever more savvy audiences with diverse tastes:

When Steve Coogan was writing the oft-quoted ‘monkey tennis’ scene for his hapless former sports journalist, Alan Partridge, his wit was tuned to the absurd rather than the visionary. Yet whilst his is an extreme and ridiculous expression of it, we have seen the nascence of many exciting hybrid events and experiences that cross genres of interests, passions and entertainments that echo Partridge’s, albeit more random, mashups.

Nick Craggs of Adidas noted in the run up to his brand’s London 2012 campaign that his target audience picks from a pool of many different interests, partly enabled by the fragmentation of everything into smaller easily-digestible chunks. So whereas former generations may have described or considered themselves as ‘sports fans’, ‘music lovers’ or ‘followers of fashion’, their 2013 contemporaries would hate to be so single-dimensional. They watch the match on TV whilst listening to Spotify from their smartphones, whilst tweeting their mates about what they’re seeing and hearing.

Forward thinking brands, such as Adidas, recognise they should reflect this little mix of influences in the content and communications they make. This dates back to the Harlem Globetrotters, not simply content to dazzle the audience with their basketball, but overlaying tricks and music and showbiz. This has evolved through cheerleaders and teams taking the field of play to relevant music tracks, to broad-appeal expressions of mainstream sports like tennis (the ATP World Tour Finals) and cricket (20/20).

In fact, hosts of many of the world’s major sporting and music events recognise that their visitors expect to be entertained not only by what they’ve paid to see, but by added value extras; from the Matalan Fashion Show at the John Smith’s Grand National and X Factor contestants pumping out cover versions during the warm up at Twickenham, to Ministry of Sound clubnights at Thorpe Park or F1 Rocks music shows at F1 races for visitors not yet all-thrilled out.

night tennis
(Sony’s Night Tennis)

But a new breed of events tap more acutely into this evolution of interests, starting with Sony’s Night Tennis, which saw the world’s best players competing with flourescent clothing and equipment, set against a backdrop (or frontdrop ?) of DJs and mesmeric beats. Red Bull has also pioneered the mashing up of locations, sports and trends to create unique and ownable branded events.

Judging by work that we’re planning for 2014, I predict not only a rise in these branded and perfectly curated events, but also a burgeoning need to observe and appreciate such developments in activations at festivals, sporting events, and cultural occasions.

So whilst I think it may be too late for Inner City Sumo or Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave, the hybrid entertainment experience is ready to join the major league.

As previously featured on the FMBE website.

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