Record labels, music magazines and the maven of lifestyle marketing-MTV-are attracting more than teen-agers to the dance parties, barbecues and sporting events they coordinate. Consumer product companies from Reebok International to Apple Computer are also latching on and often footing the entire bill.
The quirky road tours MTV: Music Television spawned in the late 1980s, beginning with the "Museum of Unnatural History," have become a model for other music marketers.
"In the early days of MTV, getting out there was all we did," said David Cohn, VP-promotions. As the network got bigger, MTV began producing more media events like the video music awards.
"But we've realized lately we've got to go back out there where the viewers are," Mr. Cohn said. MTV spends roughly 10% of its marketing budget on events.
To promote "Singled Out," MTV's take on "The Dating Game," the network this summer put two Love Vans on the road to stage impromptu game shows. MTV and Paramount Parks-both units of Viacom-cooperated to produce "Singled Out Weekends" at theme parks along the way. U.S. Concepts, New York, executed.
While MTV is typically the sole sponsor of its events, the network "will look at good opportunities that are a natural fit," Mr. Cohn said.
Hip-hopping to van tour
Meanwhile, hip-hop magazine The Source is attracting a growing roster of corporate sponsors to its "Hip Hop Heat Wave" mobile van tour. Marketers from Reebok to Miramax Pictures pay upwards of $50,000 each to put their logos on the van, which tours 35 cities each spring.
Fortified with 36 Sony speakers and the latest Sega Genesis video-games, the "Heat Wave" van visits block parties and schools, hosting videogame challenges and open-mike contests for aspiring rappers. Local radio programs back The Source's appearances.
An even cooler trend is starting to enter music industry-related events: snow.
The third annual "Board Aid," a snowboarding-plus-music event, is set for next spring in Big Bear, Calif., organized by Lifebeat, the music industry's organization to fight AIDS. Also involved is Warp Magazine, a journal for board-sports enthusiasts, published by Transworld Publications in Oceanside.
Jumping aboard "Board Aid"
Airwalk Footwear, a snowboard boot and skateboard shoe marketer based in Altoona, Pa., paid $50,000 for title sponsorship of "Board Aid 1995," which was broadcast on MTV. Record labels are an integral part of "Board Aid," providing rock bands to perform on the mountain. Sony Corp.'s Columbia Records organized a low-budget sweepstakes around the event, giving away snowboarding equipment and a free trip to Big Bear to fans of Columbia artist Ned's Atomic Dustbin.
"These kids we want to go after are very wary of major corporate anything," said Nick Cucci, director of product marketing at Columbia. "You have to take an independent approach."
Columbia advertised the promotion on Sony's Web site, in three Transworld magazines and through point-of-purchase materials at independent snowboard retailers. Columbia created the advertising in-house.