Orange and Nokia
Orange’s regional PR and sponsorship manager Pip MacLennan.It’s Festival time in Scotland’s capital city – the time of year when the Royal Mile is invaded by thousands of tight-wearing Bard-quoting students, purple-haired jugglers and hippie henna tattoo artists.
But this year, as well as the aforementioned wealth of artistic endeavour that will be on show, something slightly more in kilter with today’s mobile society will also be taking centre stage, thanks to Orange and Nokia, which together are sponsoring all four of the festivals – Fringe, International, Book and Film – for those of you lacking any semblance of culture.
This year Hollywood stars Tim Robbins and wife Susan Sarandon aren’t the only significant debutantes at the Festival, as Orange and Nokia trial two services that, if successful, could prove to be the future of mobile communications.
While text messaging is the “new black”, Orange has developed a new text service which could put an end to waiting in those frustrating box-office queues where the only thing approaching “entertainment” is a Finnish fire eater called Mika or a French mime artist.
Orange’s new TexTicketing service is being trialled at four Festival shows this year, thus enabling Orange users to buy and obtain tickets direct through their mobile handsets.
The trial will include the Fringe’s Best of the Fest show, the Book Festival’s Orange Lectures, the first of the International Festival’s £5 Nights and the Film Festival’s surprise film on 21 August.
Registered Orange users wishing to attend any of these shows can simply text 7467 (which spells out “shop” in text language) with the name of the show they wish to attend and, voila, a text ticket is returned to your handset, which you simply flash at the venue to gain admittance. During August, Orange is also going to be trialling the service at eight nightclubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Pip MacLennan, regional PR and sponsorship manager at Orange, says: “We are really trying to take the hassle out of phoning up and queuing to get tickets, which can be a nightmare when it is busy. It is difficult as there are so many shows across all four festivals, but it is our view that we will be looking to increase the level of TexTicketing at next year’s Festival, if it goes well.”
Another mobile development sees giant plasma screens being erected at various venues across the city in order to ensure that while you are waiting for your train at Waverly Station after a hard day at the office you won’t miss Johnny Vegas passing out in the toilets of the Assembly Rooms.
Nokia’s new 7650 handset contains cutting-edge technology that allows users to take and send digital photographs to each other and to the giant screens. Nokia teams will be around the city touring the Festival venues, taking pictures and beaming them back to the screens around the city centre. So, celebrities beware, you can run, but it seems you certainly won’t be able to hide this year.
These are just two of the many services Orange and Nokia will be offering throughout the course of the month-long Edinburgh Festival. Other services include full WAP listings for every show at each of the four festivals, the 177 information line, which includes show reviews and highlights, and a real-time news update service for each festival.
In fact, a new key word search service introduced for the first time this year allows Orange and Nokia users to find out everything that might be of interest across all four festivals. For instance, say you are interested in anything related to the works of Sylvester Stallone. Enter the keyword “Stallone” and every performance, lecture, film or book pertaining to Rocky and Rambo at the Festival will be at your fingertips. Incidentally, Stallone’s presence at this year’s Festival is minimal, to say the least, so don’t waste your time searching for it.
But with services such as this now being developed and introduced, Orange’s dedication to the Edinburgh Festival is indeed total. In fact Orange’s dedication to the Scottish market was boosted last November when the company moved MacLennan to Scotland as its regional PR and sponsorship manager, after two years spent with the company in London.
MacLennan says: “As Orange has grown, our remit throughout the UK has obviously grown. We felt the need for someone on the ground in Scotland who could really take the brand out into the country and give something back.
“We already sponsor T in the Park, as communications partner, but the Edinburgh Festival is our major sponsorship for the year in Scotland. We have had an involvement with the Festival for the last four years, but this is the first time we have sponsored all four festivals.”
Partnership with the Festival will see Orange and Nokia sponsoring the Fringe’s biggest comedy showcase, The Best of the Fest, the introduction of the Best of the Fest Award – a new award where the public can vote for their favourite act from the Festival, and the Festival Fringe Opening Gala on 4 August at the Assembly Rooms, at which Orange and Nokia employees will be performing after winning an internal competition.
Orange and Nokia are also sponsoring the closing party of the Film Festival on 25 August, the Assembly Rooms VIP club bar, and at the Book Festival the Orange Prize for Fiction, an initiative introduced to encourage more female fiction writers, will be hosting a number of author debates.
If after all that you need a drink then you can pop along to the Orange-sponsored Spiegeltent, which will play host to debates and lively evening entertainment.
Putting it lightly, if you are going to the Festival then it will be hard, if not impossible, not to notice Orange and Nokia’s involvement. Obviously, Orange takes event sponsorship seriously, but is it nothing more scientific than a badging exercise?
“I would say it is less about sponsorship and more about partnership. We definitely see our sponsorship of the four festivals as more than a badging exercise. We go to the very top level and look for something we can attach ourselves to. We always try to create something exciting and initiatives that actively encourage people to take part. We want to put something back.”
Taking into account the wide range of events Orange is involved in supporting, MacLennan’s words have a ring of truth.
Orange has three main sponsorship strands in the arts – music, film and literature. Music sponsorships include festivals at Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury and, obviously, T in the Park, the Q Awards and Manumission in Ibiza. Film initiatives include the Short Film Prize in conjunction with Film Four and sponsorship of the BAFTAs. Literature initiatives include the Orange Prize for Fiction, which has been voted best sponsorship by the FT, and Hollis, and children’s reading groups in more than 50 libraries throughout England and Wales, which aims to encourage children to become more involved with reading and writing. In October this initiative is to be rolled out into Scotland.
So, what is Orange looking to achieve through all these sponsorship initiatives? MacLennan says: “We are always looking for a good and exciting creative idea within our key sponsorship strands and we try to be a socially responsible company. That is something that is increasing right across the business community. But sponsorship is about talking to our key stakeholders in a way that they will accept. The perception of Orange, in terms of community involvement, has grown incredibly, due to these initiatives. They add value to the communities that they serve, which is what it is all about. It is also obviously about developing revenue, but if we can do this whilst at the same time really putting the Edinburgh Festival into the hands so people then so much the better.”
Orange is also only too well aware that internal initiatives are as important as external initiatives. When you have 14,000 employees in the UK alone, then the last thing you want is an unhappy workforce.
“It is very important to reinforce with our staff just what we are doing on the community front. You have to focus on your employees or else it really means nothing to them. We take a lot of pride in our staff initiatives. For instance, we have around 20 reading groups throughout the company that we send out for lunch, and so on.”
So, what of next year’s Festival? Will we no longer even have to turn up at the venue to see the show? Will the performance be beamed direct to our mobile phones? Doubtful, but as MacLennan says, Orange and Nokia will take stock of this year’s sponsorship successes and review activity for next year’s Festival. TexTicketing will, hopefully, be rolled out to a wider range of performances and with mobile technologies moving at the pace they are who knows what else will be possible in a year’s time.
At the moment MacLennan has more important things on her mind – like how she is going to survive the next hectic month.