Jun 13, 2018
By Tara Weiss
Fans get slimed, go through the wringer and meet their favorite on-screen personalities in the inaugural stateside SlimeFest.
CHICAGO — Walking down the path to the Huntington Bank Pavilion overlooking Lake Michigan, two things are clear: There are a lot of JoJo Siwa fans attending Nickelodeon’s SlimeFest and they are eager to get slimed.
The JoJo Siwa fans are easy to spot, with their signature, oversized hair bows and colorful tutus. If you listen carefully, you hear kids asking parents to find the closest place to play with slime.
They didn’t have to look too far. It’s everywhere at SlimeFest, Nickelodeon’s two-day music and entertainment festival that drew more than 20,000 attendees. Shooting out unexpectedly from the main stage. Dripping down a sign that says Slime near the entrance. At a Slime Lab slime-making station toward the back of the park.
This is the inaugural stateside SlimeFest. Sharon Cohen, executive vice president of the recently created Nick Experience, brought it to Chicago after successful runs in Australia, South Africa, Australia, Italy, UK and Spain.
"If we can extend the brands’ content and IP in real- life, it helps us compete better against the Hulus and Amazons."
It’s part of Viacom’s push to attach a live event to each brand, giving fans the chance to interact with the IP they know and love, while adding an alternative revenue stream to the company’s books. Revenue from experiential efforts is expected to double year-over-year in 2018.
“It’s a diversification play,” says Jason Jordan, Viacom’s executive vice president of multi-platform strategy and operations. “It’s hard to compete with Netflix spending $8 to $9 million purely on video. If we can extend the brands’ content and IP in real- life, it helps us compete better against the Hulus and Amazons. It’s an opportunity to strengthen IP, talent and brands by letting people to touch, interact and feel them.”
"Millennials and younger have grown up feeling like they have direct access to the celebrities they like on social media."
Social influencers the Eh Bee and Ballinger families are there partaking in the festival’s activities. Also milling about is singer-songwriter and YouTube star, Carson Lueders.
A group of girls waiting in line for event sponsor ZURU Bunch O Balloons’ activation squeal and take pictures when they see him approaching the booth. And that’s exactly what organizers want.
“Millennials and younger have grown up feeling like they have direct access to the celebrities they like on social media,” says Chris Cavanaugh, chief marketing officer at the brand experience agency, FreemanXP. “There is no intermediary getting in the way of their direct connection. So when they come to an event they expect to have an interaction. It doesn’t have to be direct, one-on-one. Sharing that experience with others who have a passion for those people… when they are part of an audience interacting with people they follow, that’s exactly what they crave. These live experiences deliver that.”
Cavanaugh adds, “Online is great but it’s a one-dimensional cold medium. A live experiences is three-dimensional.”