Zippo Lights Up Live Music Scene With Bandsintown

Preserving a longtime association with rock 'n' roll

Waving a lighter in the air has been a live music must since the inception of the rock 'n' roll power ballad. But these days, it’s become far less acceptable to smoke—especially in public spaces such as concert venues—and lighters have been largely supplanted by cellphones in terms of pants pocket real estate.

Rock audiences may now be a sea of blue screens rather than tiny flames, but Zippo is looking to preserve the long-standing association of its product and the music scene through a campaign that not only links bands to its brand, but also turns those ever-present phones into virtual lighters.

Through a partnership with concert discovery application Bandsintown, Zippo is hoping to connect with the 30 million music fans the app reaches every month, and the 160,000 artists who use it to promote their shows on social media.

“Zippo has been a major supporter of the live music experience for decades, so it made sense for us to partner with Bandsintown to engage with millennial consumers,” said Brent Tyler, global brand manager for Zippo.

The demo is a great target audience for many brands, but “it’s not very easy for a brand to reach concertgoers,” said Julien Mitelberg, CEO of Bandsintown, who is positioning his company to be a bridge between the two. “We’ve been connecting bands with their fan base; the next step was to connect brand with band.”

In addition to the virtual lighter app for iOS and Android—which also links users to concert tour dates for favorite artists—the partnership will allow a handful of artists to create limited-edition Zippo lighters for sale through Bandsintown Specials, the social app’s merch site. “We’ve been looking at merchandising for some time," Mitelberg said. “We realized that the number of things you can buy [at concerts] is quite limited.”

Though it’s still a new campaign, there are some early signs of success. For Battlecross, a metal band among the first to create a branded Zippo, the design was created with input from its nearly 40,000 Facebook fans. “The fan response was the most responded-to post in the band’s history,” said Battlecross manager Velda Garcia Fayz, “giving an opportunity for brands like Zippo to be part of that engagement.”

Zippo, Mitelberg said, was a natural first choice, but other brand partnerships will follow “in the coming months.” Though he did not disclose terms of the deal, Mitelberg noted that Bandsintown’s new brand focus is giving the app a brand-new revenue stream.

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