Nova’s Red Room goes global

Before Nova’s 2015 Global Red Room Tour takes off, we hear from Nova’s Tony Thomas, Smallzy and tour sponsors

By James Manning

After setting the bar pretty high with the 2014 Nova Global Red Room, the marketing team at Nova Entertainment needed something pretty special to eclipse their first effort. On paper they seem to have pulled it off with an ambitious undertaking that will see a team of around 50 competition winners and a support team heading off later this month to Europe and the United Arab Emirates for a total of four Red Rooms that will include a special event with the biggest music artist in the world – Ed Sheeran.

Mediaweek will again be part of the journey with daily reports via the Mediaweek Morning Report covering all action. We spoke with some of the key players to preview the 2015 trip.


Nova Entertainment group marketing director

NOVA Entertainment Group Marketing Director Tony Thomas

Tony Thomas

Thomas started telling Mediaweek about what would be different in 2015: “With the calibre of artists and the locations we are going to there is real diversity in both. It throws up many more content creation opportunities and it feels much bigger than last year.

The learnings from last year are that at every moment there is an opportunity for capturing content. In between the live music events there will be many content opportunities. In addition to the Red Room shows we will be able to showcase Dubai as a stopover for Qantas on the way to Europe and also as a destination with Dubai Tourism coming on board. In addition to capturing the music, we will be able to capture what is almost an equal passion point for many people – travel.”

Thomas said that three things influenced Nova Entertainment to head to Europe and then stop in Dubai on the way home. “We wanted to do something different. It’s a really important route for Qantas and to have Ed Sheeran headline in Dublin at an iconic venue influenced the other event locations and places we visit.”

Thomas noted there was demand from other partners to get involved and there had been continuous conversations with people since the 2014 tour ended. “Our preference was to continue to work with Optus and Qantas as preferred brand partners. We talked to other partners who could add elements to the experience which is why Dubai Tourism seemed to us the perfect addition to year two. They could come on board and showcase a key leg of the tour this year. There was a lot more demand, but we have consolidated our partners and done more with the existing partners rather than having to look elsewhere.”

Sony Music provided the artists on the inaugural Nova Red Room Global Tour, but Warner Music is the main music partner this time. “The tour isn’t necessarily aligned with a label,” said Thomas. “It was more around which artists we could get. While we worked last year with Sony, this year the artists put forward where people we have long-standing relationships with and artists we have supported in a big way. It was a no-brainer this year given the calibre of the artists we were offered too.”

“While there are other live
music brands, there has been
nothing approaching
what we are doing.”

Thomas said it was great to have Optus and Qantas involved again. “They were our marquee partners and very happy with the first year. We were very aware of what we could achieve in year two after we learnt a lot from year one. There are a lot more content creation opportunities also for both partners and they will be publishing content immediately across their assets. Qantas adds to overall experience by being our main travel partner. The good thing is the partners we have on board for year two are again all complementary to the experience.

Nova will be taking away a total of 28 winners on the 2015 trip from competitions run not only by Nova, but also by Optus and Qantas. “We are taking a few more people on the road to capture the content to ensure we are not missing a trick on the trip.

Both major competitive FM networks Southern Cross Austereo and Australian Radio Network have ramped up live music events for their listeners. SCA has World Famous Rooftop events in Sydney and Melbourne, while ARN is starting to roll out iHeartMusic events. Thomas has been well aware of the activity and said: “We established Red Room close to three years ago and have continually evolved bigger ideas from the Red Room platform.

“While there is more competitive activity around the live music experience, I have seen nothing on this scale. We have demonstrated that through a bigger and more exciting tour this year and we have also shown that in launching a Red Room with one of the most iconic artists of all time in Madonna. Whilst there are other live music brands, there has been nothing approaching what we are doing. That is a demonstration of the credibility and the equity we have built in Red Room and the scale of the ideas we have been able to execute. It is competitive, but we are playing in a whole different league.

Nova Entertainment is giving away the first tickets to listeners to join the tour just two weeks before they fly out from Sydney for Dublin. Thomas indicated that was part of creating an in-the-moment experience. “The way we are running the competition element and then the trip allows us to execute the payoff and then the experience in a short amount of time. The idea that you can win and then pack your bags and depart for the tour in a fortnight gives it a huge level of energy and is an important change from last year.”

A bonus for the Nova radio stations is that the first ticket giveaways coincide with the first day back on air with the “secret” return of Hamish and Andy on July 6.

We always try to do our best things at important times,” said Thomas. “And early July is going to be a very competitive time for the radio industry. For our audiences it is going to be one of the biggest things we do this year and it is good it is happening at that time.”


Ed Sheeran, Nova's Smallzy & Jamie Lawson

Ed Sheeran, Smallzy and Jamie Lawson

Doing his radio show from international pop hotspots is a good part of Smallzy’s job. This year he has ticked off Los Angeles, London, Vienna amongst others.

“It’s going to be super exciting,” Smallzy told Mediaweek. “Four countries, four different cities in nine days – I am ready for jetlag to hit us hard.

Smallzy said the highlight will be watching Ed Sheeran play in a pub in Dublin with the opportunity to have a drink with him at the bar. “Dublin will be very special. Anybody who knows about the history of Nova and Ed Sheeran knows that we are very close with each other.” The Dublin gig comes the week after three sold-out shows at London’s Wembley Arena and in the same week as two sold-out shows at Dublin’s Croke Park. Sheeran then heads back to the US for shows before landing in Australia in late November.

Smallzy is also looking forward to Jamie Lawson performing too after Smallzy’s Surgery had the world’s first play of his new song on Ed Sheeran’s label earlier this year. “It will be great to hear an artist that Ed backed and we broke in Australia.

“There will also be a top secret gig in downtown London and I have seen the accommodation and I can tell you right now the hotel is nice.

“Then we head to Dubai. I’ve travelled a lot to Dubai and the airport has traditionally been a stopover so it’s going to be really good fun to leave the airport. There are a lot of special things planned for Dubai.”

Smallzy will be hosting his ratings-winning and award-winning Smallzy’s Surgery daily from the Red Room Global Tour, telling Mediaweek there will be a lot more content opportunities than last year partly because there are more artists involved. “This time a lot of the tour is happening on weekdays while our show is on air and we will be able to share all that content with the listeners.

The artists we have lined up for this tour are everybody’s favourites and household names.” Smallzy also said it will be good not only to offer news and music from the artists involved, but also to showcase some of the locations the tour will be visiting.


Annick Perrin, managing director Starcom, said: “Exploration is paramount to the millennial mindset, be it in music or travel. The Nova Red Room Global Tour Together With Optus allows the brand to leverage the tangible ‘money can’t buy experience’ delivered in 2014, and significantly evolve the opportunity to provide a bigger and better, multicountry, multiartist extravaganza for existing and potential Optus customers in 2015.”[/blockquote]


Olivia Wirth, Qantas group executive, brand, marketing and corporate affairs, said this style of partnership is a key part of the airline’s overall experiential marketing strategy. “Qantas is excited to be embarking on the Nova Red Room journey again in 2015, it provides a fantastic platform for us to engage with the youth market via their passion for music and travel. This kind of activation provides powerful cut through in terms of talking to this important group of future Qantas frequent flyers via a channel they relate to. Our mission is to create an emotional connection to Qantas through a number of ‘money can’t buy’ experiences that they will remember for the rest of their lives. As we are the airline of choice for many global celebrity artists, this promotion and Nova as the partner is the perfect fit for us.”[/blockquote]


Julie King, director Asia Pacific for Dubai Tourism, said: “Partnering with Nova’s Red Room Global Tour is an ideal platform for us to reach a younger audience interested in travel and music. Dubai as a destination has so much to offer all year round and this partnership enables us to communicate the uniqueness of the destination and the variety of experiences and events on offer.”[/blockquote]


News Corp Sydney-based entertainment reporter J.Mo not only reports for Sydney Confidential, he co-hosts the Sunday night Confidential On Nova. “I couldn’t be more excited,” the energetic and ever-youthful journalist told Mediaweek. “The lineup is huge and I love working on the road, especially when I can file for both Confidential on Nova and for News Corp.”[/blockquote]

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