In Flanders, Belgium, newsrooms sometimes designate the summer as “cucumber time.” Nothing much is going on: Parliament is in summer recess, so articles about cucumbers suddenly get a higher probability of appearing.
Luckily for us, as we are blessed with a lot of summer festivals, so our news media can write about them.
Media can be quite generous on a festival ground. De Morgen, for instance, has been distributing big boards to write stuff on and communicate with the artists on stage for a long time. I remember being quite jealous when Beth Ditto held up a De Morgen-branded piece of cardboard that said “Argentina 0 – Germany 4” during her act during the Werchter 2014 festival in front of 60,000 spectators. A lot of booing followed, but it wasn’t against De Morgen.
Media are mainly activating their readers and collecting data and opt-in opportunities by giving them incentives or promotional items. That’s fine, but this brand experience doesn’t create a great deal of loyalty. A media partner will always remain a partner. Festival visitors are looking forward to great music and fantastic bands, not fantastic promo teams on the festival grounds.
That’s why, for the first time in its history, Flemish daily De Standaard is producing its own event. The Summer of Love, 50 Years Later is a photo exhibition about the rise of counterculture in 1967 and its present-day remnants. Throughout July and August, De Standaard will be running a series of stories on the Summer of Love. By extension, it will also publish stories about the sixties in general — activism and emancipation, civil rights, Vietnam, mass media, fashion, the space race — and on the impact the era has had and might still be having on culture.
To coincide with this, De Standaard will be exhibiting 80 images, 40 from the 1960s and 40 contemporary images inspired by the archival work. The curators have drawn from the Magnum archive as well as De Standaard’s own archives. They have also asked 20 Flemish photographers to respond to the cultural and sociological revolution that began in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. They depict our views on nudity, civic disobedience, use of drugs, the construction of nuclear plants, and, of course, the summer festivals of that time.
The pictures reveal the context of that time and also contemplate what they mean for us today. How much hippie is there still in present-day man and woman?
This exposition isn’t very original; San Francisco must be infested with Summer of Love events coming July and August. But it is original when you consider this is an extension of the news brand and an activation tool for new and existing readers.
For loyalty purposes, subscribers are offered a free ticket to the exhibition. For youth marketing, the producer created a kids’ circuit with lots of interactive ideas. For data gathering purposes, visitors are offered a discount when they register on the De Standaard Web site. And for traffic generation and box office revenue, the newspaper will be campaigning for the expo until the very last day.
About 20,000 visitors are expected this summer, and they should all a have a great experience with this news brand expression.
If you happen to be in Ostend, Belgium, between July and September, De Standaard will be happy to give you the grand tour of the exhibition. In the meantime, I wish you a very pleasant summer!