By: Clay A. Lundquist

Last weekend I spent some time in Puerto Rico to take in the experiential marketing aspects at the San Sebastian Festival in Old San Juan. While I would have thought this would have been one of the last places that I would see marketing I was horribly wrong. In fact the event was covered with event marketing efforts. Everyone from Heinekin and At&t to Burger King were onsite promoting themselves. While some of the promotions were low key like a energy drink who was giving out bottles of their flavored water from the back of a non descript pickup truck others were larger and doing their best to blend in with the event. The thing that stuck out to me most were the groups that were parading thru the streets dancing and banging drums and blowing horns and whistles. You would have thought these were just revelers having a good time but for the most part they were branded. As they moved thru the narrow streets their groups gained attention from locals and tourists. The parades grew in numbers as they moved along. As long as the music had a good beat no one seemed to care that they were joining in marketing a brand. At the beginning of the night I looked at these activities as a bastardization of a time honored tradition at festivals like this. But as I looked at it from a brands perspective I thought about how most brands would kill to have thousands of people follow their billboards and brand ambassadors thru the streets. While they are in my opinion pushing the boundaries some of these promotions if organic and respectful of the celebration are a great opportunity to get your brand out to the community.