From the Barn

Did Oppikoppi cancel its brand?

Oppikoppi Cancelled Brand

Oppikoppi is cancelled for 2019. No wait… postponed. If you haven’t heard the news by now then you are either living under a rock, or you simply just don’t care. I am perfectly happy with both associations.

I was reading an embargoed press release yesterday morning and instead of jumping to create a blog post with an opinion on the matter, I decided to let it sit with me for a day.

Oppikoppi the BRAND

In my view they are probably the best brand that associates itself with the phrase “music festival” in South Africa. Yes, you do have others that have been around for a while, but none of them stands out and is as recognisable as the festival near Northam.

For South African bands and artists performing at this festival was a goal to achieve and for the youth a right of passage to attend. It was a culture in its own right and as a brand it possesses so much word of mouth marketing miles that one would think that that alone would carry it through the tough economical times. Apparently it wasn’t enough.

As per Theresho Selesho, CEO of Matchbox LIVE (Owners of the OppiKoppi festival), the reason for postponing  the 25th edition of the festival is due to them not being able to manage the additional financial burden placed on them by growing security cost.

For 24 years, OppiKoppi has been going great guns. Unfortunately, in 2018 we experienced the rampant crime currently impacting events and festivals across South Africa. For us to present the 2019 event with the increased security measures that are required to curb this crime to present a safe and enjoyable festival, the production costs also increase drastically. By taking a gap year, we are giving ourselves the breathing room to redesign the festival and bring in the necessary changes without impacting the festival goer by increasing ticket prices. We believe that in doing this, we will bring everyone a fresh new festival, ready to take music lovers forward for the next 25 years.

Effectively they are blaming crime in South Africa.

Let’s call it like it is

Calling it a postponement is probably a word their PR guru told them to use to keep the rage of the fans at bay. It is like bands announcing that they are taking a hiatus and then after 15 years they bring out a reunion album supported by a tour.

Just call it what it is – CANCELLED. And stop using crime as an excuse.

The following section of the press release got me thinking a lot.

The team is relooking every single brick that builds a festival in South Africa. We are even investigating bringing the festival to a venue closer to a major city, to enable day tickets, less travelling and other options for the attendees. All options are open. Nothing is out of question.

It suggests to me that they are:

  1. Feeling the need to come up with new ideas as the brand is not as popular as it used to be
  2. Supporters are growing up and they don’t associate with the brand anymore
  3. Their new target market don’t care much for dust

Compared to events in Gauteng like Parkacoustics and Misty Waters Music Festival both offer a new direction for festivals. The first is a closer to home location and the latter offers great accommodation options walking distance from the stage. The kicker is that you are seeing the same bands on stage at less of a price than Oppikoppi. Right now those are two prominent brands that still focus on real bands playing music.

Oppikoppi might be calling it a gap year, but we all know that it means that they travelled to Europe and came back with a love for Euro-Dance-House trippy music. I hope you aren’t one for sentiment, because then you might be let down once the 25th edition finally takes place. It will be a ghost of its former self or return as a commercial beast. The problem with commercial festival beasts are that they try to enforce the brand message. Oppikoppi’s voice was always that of the people and sponsors associated with that voice.

Bottom line is that you can’t always as a brand expect people to support your goals. Sometimes you need to support their goals to win in marketing. Right now it seems that Matchbox Live is more interested in their own voice. Sadly.

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