OPINION17 June 2022

While the sun shines: how brands should approach summer 2022

Leisure & Arts Opinion Trends UK

What does the summer of 2022 offer brands and where should they be putting their budgets if they are still undecided? Sarah Owen canvassed a number of marketing specialists – here’s what they had to say.

Woman sunning herself by the pool while working on a laptop

Verity Brown, managing director, The Specialist Works
Many people want a release, they’ve had a tough time, and it’s getting tougher. After two years of restrictions, the lure of hedonism is strong and people are embracing a return to live events and finding ways to get away – but there is no escaping the rising cost of living, and for many, cash will be tight. Brands that are seen to help will win, whether through promotions or by offering credit.

Understanding particular audiences is more important than ever, as circumstances vary by age, sector, region, lifestyle and more, requiring nuanced and tailored messaging for specific groups across every touchpoint, planned and driven by data.

The pandemic changed shopper behaviour forever, and brands should invest in targeting the whole shopper journey, including at-home decision making. Traditional TV strategies fail to reach swathes of the population, but linear TV does reach older audiences, and brands should note that it is precisely this audience which has real spending power and will be among the first to return to discretionary expenditure.

We’re also heading towards a packed golden age in Q4 with Christmas and the World Cup, which should provide an opportunity for weeks of escapism and joy. But to get ahead of this, we’re advising our clients to prepare this summer. Some media channels may experience price inflation, but the most pressing challenge will be a lack of availability for many. To mitigate this, brands should plan and book earlier than they usually would to secure the best space.

Rik Moore, managing partner of strategy, The Kite Factory 
Summer is a really interesting time for brands, with two sizeable societal factors happening concurrently – a release as we move beyond the pandemic, with freedoms returned, bumping up against the wide-reaching impacts of the cost-of-living crisis.

Wherever it is possible for a brand to credibly and authentically deliver something that taps into feel-good moments across the summer, that would be welcomed.

Sports-wise, England hosting the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 has all the elements to be the hit of the summer. Given the large number of locations the tournament touches, there is lots of potential to get in and around that event, building up to the Wembley Stadium final at the end of July.

More importantly though, anything that brands can do to tangibly support customers through the cost-of-living crisis will help build long-lasting relationships that will be remembered beyond the crisis.

James Tollington, business director, FUSE 
Sports and entertainment opportunities for brands may have returned last summer, but it will be in 2022 that the industry will really be back with a bang. For some, this year will see fan favourites return after a two-year hiatus (eg Glastonbury, BST Hyde Park), whereas others will be able to shift gears from a partial return into fully fledged events running at maximum capacity, such as Wimbledon or Royal Ascot. With events across our industry selling out in record time, the appetite for live experiences is clearly reaching record levels.

For brand managers who have either persevered with sports and entertainment marketing during the unprecedented times we have seen, or are re-entering after activating exit clauses, the chance to engage with fans and put contractual terms to one side will be a welcome relief. And there are stories wherever you look. The British Grand Prix will benefit from a resurgent interest in F1, The Open will celebrate its 150th edition at golf’s home of St Andrews, Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, while Elton John will bring his farewell tour to BST Hyde Park.

For those still undecided, a theme that may just rise above all else and be the worthiest of late investment is women’s sport taking centre stage. Shortly after Emma Raducanu returns to Centre Court, the UEFA Women’s Euros will kick-off up and down the country, with Sarina Wiegman’s England in a strong position to give the 700,000 fans attending something to celebrate, not to mention the millions watching on the BBC. With burgeoning support, some of the best brand & reputational scores of any sports team, and a live environment that caters perfectly for families, the Lionesses may just be the biggest winners of 2022’s Summer.

Tom Gray, chief strategy officer, Imagination 
After two long years of restrictions on social contact, people are aching for real-world, in-person experiences – something new, something memorable, something to share with others – and perhaps a little humble-bragging.

With that in mind, marketing managers should think about how they might use fun, meaningful and memorable pop-up experiences in places that meet people where they are. Pop-up retail is having a renaissance as people rediscover the joys of not shopping online. Retail and hospitality mash-ups are a good place to start, along with the perennial appeal of the food stall or ice-cream truck. Mobile brand experiences can be a great way to take the brand on the road and meet people where they are.

Another strategy worth considering is creating ticketed experiences. Research shows that people value, enjoy and talk about experiences that they have paid for more than free experiences by a factor of six.

From escape rooms to gigs and sports experiences to live shows, brands that turn up and help people enjoy the great British summer will reap the rewards.

Nikki Cunningham, managing director at Curious
There will be mixed emotions this summer as the joy of being able to sunbathe without a mask clashes with the ongoing price woes faced by the consumer as the cost of living truly hits home. Brands need to pay full attention to what their audiences are worrying about and how they can best support them when everything feels a bit up in the air. 

Spending time doing a little homework on what their audiences care about and executing a campaign focused on their core brand to tap into this, will be wise. Brands need to constantly adapt and build on what is happening around them rather than expecting everything to remain the same – because things are far from ‘the same’ at the moment. 

Joel Seymour-Hyde, managing director, Octagon UK 
This summer is a huge moment for the sports and entertainment industry, with effectively a full return to the live event and experience schedule, with packed crowds and huge broadcast audiences for everything from Wimbledon to the Women’s Euros, and Ed Sheeran concerts to Glastonbury. 

If lockdown taught us one thing about consumer behaviour, it was quite how much people missed access to the things they love, and when they returned, even behind closed doors, how much they saved our sanity. 

Many brands have already woken up to this fact, securing sponsorship deals and content partnerships ahead of this summer’s bonanza. For those brands only just starting to appreciate the opportunity, the bad news is it’s probably too late to do anything ‘official’ (ie sponsoring one of ths summer’s sporting or music events), but there is still time to effectively jump on the bandwagon, through smart, authentic and tactical content or activations. 

For example, this summer’s Women’s Euro 2022 in England is likely to be the biggest ever, and whilst sponsoring the tournament itself or England Women’s team may be out of the question, relevant social content, bought around match days, could still provide brands with a connection to the moment. Likewise, the return of Glastonbury is a huge cultural moment likely to provide opportunity for brands with the ability to create reactive content.

Other big events to consider would include the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August – localised opportunities and the chance to support the next generation of British talent; the 150th British Open at St Andrews – an iconic moment for golf in the UK; BST Hyde Park – a huge line-up of mega artists in the heart of London; Wimbledon – a new home star in Emma Raducanu, with players to watch including the talented Anett Kontaveit and the return of the full Wimbledon experience (queue and all); and the British Grand Prix – capitalising on the increased buzz around the sport and three British drivers, namely Hamilton, Norris and Russell. 

 Sarah Owen is the CEO of Pumpkin PR