We've gone from 300 to 13000 attendees in 10 years: Cecilia Oldne, Sulafest
The 10th edition of the Sulafest is due to happen on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of February, in the Sula Vineyards, near the city of Nashik in Maharashtra. The gourmet music festival presented by Sula, India’s known winery is a 3-day indulgence of music, food, wine and shopping amidst scenic surroundings. We explore more with Cecilia Oldne, VP Marketing, Sulafest.
Q) How has been the journey of SulaFest for 10 years? How has the experience transformed?
A) There were not so many live music events when we started. The snowball started rolling therein. The idea was to provide a platform for artists, and to communicate the values of Sula, and encourage people to come and see what it is all about.
In the first edition there were only 300 people, most of whom were invitees. It was a one day festival. Now it is a three day festival. The audience numbers upto 13000. Previously, people used to come from Mumbai, now we have visitors coming from Delhi, Goa, Bangalore, and Chennai.
Q) What are your plans of expansion? Would you spread to other cities or keep it exclusive to Nasik?
A) Nasik in general, and The Sula Vineyards in particular have a beautiful view, including a lake. We want to bring people in there from other cities, rather than move out.
Q) There will be two more music festivals nearby in Pune now, Sunburn and NH7 Weekender. Is that competition for Sulafest?
A) People in Maharashtra have a positive aspect. More number of festivals increase the knowledge, the culture, inspires more people to attend and be a part of the lifestyle and experiences. This adds to the entire festival situation for India, so that we could have more festivals. The increased awareness is beneficial to the business and the country.
Q) How has the landscape of India changed over the years with respect to response? Are there more wine connoisseurs in India now?
A) When I came to India it was very different. Now people are acquainted with the taste of wine, mostly through different hotels, and restaurants. Sula offers a wide variety of wines now. Adding to that is the communication as a company. We invite our customers to come to the winery, understand the processes how wine is made to incite confidence in talking about wine.
Now it is more acceptable for women to drink wine, as it is good for health. There has been a lot of changes over the years, and I see a very positive future for wine consumption in India.
Q) What are the tours you offer?
A) We have different tours of the winery. Visitors may go into the cellars, view the tanks and barrels. Sula is one of the companies working towards a sustainable environment. We take people to see the compost pits, solar panels, and water harvesting equipment that are part of the production.
Q) Which age-group does the experience majorly attract?
A) Mostly 25 and above. It is a very behaved crowd, and people come from all walks of life.
There are offerings for all: different genres of music, wine tasting, shopping , food and drinks.
Q) What are the channels you use to reach out to target audience?
A) We drive a strong campaign on media platforms. Social media marketing, PR activations, media coverage, radio and television partners, outdoor partners, and pre Sula fest activations in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore serve to reach out to potential audience.
Q) What were you looking for when you narrowed down your sponsor partners?
A) It is important they share the same values with us. We have long term association for the fest with brands that represent fashion, electronics, service providers, automobiles, drinks etc. We choose to work with one, in each category other than beverage, and they get in return an opportunity to communicate to one of the coolest and most affluent crowds in the region.
Q) How much are the expenses that go into the design and execution of this festival?
A) Exact figures may not be disclosed, but in the 10th edition we are taking things to another level, unseen before. This year, we increased the budget a lot on the production, because it is three days, and we are adding a stage—making 3 stages in total. We have also expanded the main stage area—to take in extra 1000 people, and built the VIP area.
Q) How do you plan to make the 10th edition special?
A) We are focussing a lot on the health aspect in the 10th edition. There is going to be a run during the time of the festival; we also will have clothes, merchandise, head gear and much more on the fashion element. There will be atleast 50% increase to the usual five hundred tents that are arranged by LetsCampOut for camping. We will also be launching a heritage vineyard resort at that time.
Q) Who are the service providers putting together the experience? Do you work with any specific agencies?
A) For the creative part of campaigns we partner with Bloody Paper Boat. The social media marketing itself is handled by social media agency Mindshift.
Partners are Ra Music, Soma, and Creation, the PR agency. I am very proud to mention these names we have worked with over the years.
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