We caught up with one of the driving forces behind the revolutionary Virgin Trains Move festival, which rocked Manchester from July 10th-14th, to find out what makes a successful new event, commercially and musically...
As Marketing Manager for Virgin Trains, Steve seemed delighted with the festival from both a marketing and artistic point of view. Happy to see a wide range of bands (and their corresponding fanbases) in attendance, he picked out headliners David Bowie, New Order and Green Day as personal highlights of the festival.
Virtual Festivals: Were you always confident that the event was going to be the success that it has turned out to be?
Steve Perry: We were fairly confident that this was going to be a hit. We’ve been planning this now for a number of years, and we never really expected this to be anything other than a success. This is a long terms commitment for us – a 3 year deal, and hopefully we’ve started something really big
The event is obviously tied in with branding from Virgin Trains, has that in your opinion been a success?
Research on-site shows that the link up has been well received, and vox-pop interviews have been showing positive awareness of the sponsorship
What changes, if any, do you have in store for next year?
Well obviously we’ll be looking to make the event bigger. The aim this year was to establish Move as an event and an identity, which we’ve successfully achieved. The next two years will be about expanding and building on that.
Do you think that the choice of location has been a good one?
Yes, spot on actually, I think it’s a great venue and it is really beginning to establish itself as such – plus the people that we are talking outside are telling us that they like it.
In terms of the line-up, have you deliberately tried to group the bands in order to reach a different target audience each day?
[laughs] I’d love to say that was the case, but im afraid it was more about which bands we could get to play on which days. But certainly the way that it has worked out for us has been excellent in terms of reaching different audiences each day with the bands that have been on.
The general theme this year seems to have been male-fronted rock bands. Do you think next year you will be branching out into other genres, and include some dancier music, perhaps?
Well we haven’t started talking to the promoters in terms of bands for next year yet, but we are going to be looking at all of the available options, music-wise.
[r-zone1]Has the emphasis been on encouraging people to attend this festival by way of Virgin trains, or has it been more about promoting brand awareness?
It has been more about creating a positive brand association with Virgin trains, and at the same time trying to give something back to the northwest, which is the heartland of Virgin Trains.
We’ve found that the ‘V’ festivals have been much more broadly Virgin branded than Move, in the sense that, unlike here, you certanly won’t find Coca Cola on site! Has there been a deliberate attempt to make this a Virgin Trains, rather than a Virgin event?
It is yes. I think that it’s important for Virgin Trains to stand out, and that’s difficult to do that in an environment where there are lots of brands involved, and as a result this event has been a big success in that respect – it is quite clear who brought the event to the people of Manchester..
…And who brought the people to the event. Do you think that you may have had the effect of taking punters away from the V festival or has it been a purely complementary process?
I would say that it has been purely complementary – I would be surprised if people don’t go to V as a result of coming here, in fact I think you will find a lot of the same crowd going to both events.
Do you think that it has been a success starting the event mid-week?
I think it has in terms of number. As you say it’s a new concept and it’s been about bringing a totally new music event which is an outdoor gig in a city – especially as we felt that there wasn’t enough space in the market to bring a festival in its truest sense, but there was room for a totally new event.
Do you think feel that this event is almost 4 separate days of music, rather than a continuous music event. Was it a deliberate attempt to segregate the days?
No, it was more the attempt to do something completely different and provide the public with an opportunity to come on a daily basis rather that having worry about camping and all the other things that usually go with festivals – the mud, poor toilets etc.
Do you think that the avoidance of the “cheap and cheerful” elements of the festival – camping etc. ties in with your desire to reach a more youthful audience, particularly the 16/17 year olds that were here for Green Day?
I think it does, and looking at the crowds of that age that came through yesterday [for Green Day], we very much hope that they will come back next year, bring a few mates, and hopefully travel on Virgin Trains!