Fast Company

Hertz Takes A Road Trip With Live Nation

Hertz puts music at the center of its marketing strategy with a Live Nation partnership that aims to link concert-going and car rentals.

Few things go together like music and road trips, so how about a Hertz rental car with those concert tickets? As of January 1, 2012, you’ll be able to book both through Ticketmaster.com as well as LiveNation.com. The integration of a rental car into the ticket-buying process is a key component of a multi-year sponsorship and marketing alliance Hertz has entered into with Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment.

“Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, Hertz will be integrated into the core of our ticketing business,” says Russell Wallach, president of Live Nation Network, the company’s entertainment marketing division.

The Live Nation deal is actually part of an larger “Movin’ with Music”-themed effort on the part of Hertz to tap into the power of music to reach a younger demographic--more specifically, 18- to 34-year-olds. The initiatives make Hertz the latest brand to forge connections with musicians and the music industry to boost its brand identity.

Through Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com, Hertz will offer ticket buyers the chance to rent vehicles--ranging from luxury sedans to SUVs to sports cars--from a specialized Hertz Concert Collection. Concertgoers who rent a car from Hertz will get driving directions to the concert through NeverLost, the car rental company’s navigation technology, as well as access to VIP parking at the venue. And here is a plus for members of the 25-and-under crowd who book with Hertz through Ticketmaster: They won’t have to pay a young renter’s fee.

Additionally, Live Nation is including Hertz in all sorts of band promotions, including one in the first quarter of 2012 that will give Hertz customers the chance to see up-and-coming pop/soul band Fitz and the Tantrums perform. The winner will also go backstage to conduct an interview that will be shared through social media. “We’ll be building these experiences throughout the year to bring Hertz closer to the audience,” Wallach says.

While partnering with Live Nation, Hertz is launching its own streaming radio station--Hertz Live Radio, which will be heard at Hertz facilities and on Hertz buses--in the second quarter of 2012 as well as a Hertz Music Store later in the year through which members of the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program can use points to download music.

“We’re trying to make our brand synonymous with music to the degree that we can,” says Jerry Preyss, Hertz vice president, Global Branding and Innovation, noting, “Our category is a mature category, and the default places to go include sports, but we want to go in a different direction from our competitors, and we want to reach a lot of new customers.”

Hertz certainly isn’t the first company to try to capitalize on the power of music to bond with consumers. “We’re just falling in line with brands like Nike and Cadillac and Starbucks who use music to make their brands relevant to more people,” Preyss acknowledges. “It makes sense for them, and it makes sense for us.”

Why is music such a valuable marketing tool? Wallach says Live Nation research shows that young people aren’t just interested in music--they are passionate about it. And, according to Wallach, the concert-going experience is a particularly engaging experience for a brand to be involved with. “You buy the ticket three to six months ahead of time. You might even plan a trip around the concert and rent a car. You upload photos of yourself getting ready for the show, and you tweet about the experience while you’re at the venue. After the show you write a review and share the set list, and you save your ticket stub,” Wallach muses. “There are very few experiences in life that people spend so much time on.”

While we won’t be able to judge the success of the Hertz/Live Nation pairing until the summer concert season heats up, the relationship with Live Nation could prove to be a huge driver for Hertz--Ticketmaster.com is one of the web’s top five eCommerce sites with more than 26 million unique monthly visitors.

According to Preyss, both sides have committed to the Hertz/Live Nation partnership for at least three years, and while it is first being activated in North America, it will roll out globally. The companies are currently structuring programs for Europe, South America, and Australia/New Zealand. Meanwhile, there is a B2B element to the pact as well. Live Nation employees will be driving Hertz rental cars, and the Hertz Equipment Rental division will provide lifts, portable power, and additional lighting equipment to Live Nation venues.

Hertz joins a limited circle of brands, including Coca-Cola and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, that Live Nation has formed strategic partnerships with. Wallach says the ties to blue-chip companies help Live Nation sell more concert tickets and promote its artists and venues. “We’re focused on our strategic partners,” Wallach says. “In 2012 and beyond, you’re really going to continue to see us innovate on social media, mobile and online, and the more we do, the more opportunities there are to bring in new partners, new brands, and new audiences into the Live Nation Entertainment family.”

[Image: Flickr user Wha'ppen]

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