The festival, now in its sixth year, claims to be Hong Kong's biggest annual outdoor music and arts festival. It takes place over three days between 29 November and 1 December at the West Kowloon Cultural District promenade.
Justin Sweeting, co-founder and music director of the event, said the festival attracted an audience of just under 20,000 last year, including visitors who came from Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan specifically for the festival. This time round, the organisers hope to attract more than 30,000 attendees.
Outdoor music festivals have been mushrooming around Asia, including the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, Baybeats Music Festival in Singapore, Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysia, Strawberry Music Festival in Shanghai and Spring Scream Music Festival in Taiwan.
“We want to establish ourselves as a Hong Kong signature festival," Sweeting said. "Competition from the neighbouring Asian cities is very healthy. People can see what we do and compare it with others. Having choices is a wonderful thing for Hong Kong.”
To ensure maximum and consistent messaging right from the start in July, Sweeting and his partners, Mike Hill and Jay Forster, hired A-Vibe for marketing and PR support. They also secured sponsorship from Sennheiser, Belvedere Vodka, Carlsberg, and Hong Kong Express Airways.
L-R: Mike Hill, Jay Forster and Justin Sweeting
In line with the festival's spirit of independence, “we don’t limit ourselves to the traditional marketing medium including outdoor billboard in SoHO, trams and taxis," Sweeting said. "We also partnered with local artist Little Thunder to create a collectible dragon toy, as we also like to collaborate with creative people in different fields.”
Meanwhile, Davena Mok, director of A-Vibe, who previously did the corporate communications for Universal Music for SE Asia and was the director of digital content at Lane Crawford, said she has worked with Sweeting in the past one the Rockit Music Festival.
A-Vibe does PR and events for fashion and lifestyle brands, with clients including Monki (under the H&M Group), Converse, Lee Jeans and Beats by Dr Dre.
To help promote Clockenflap in the digital space, Mok said the fesitval has launched an Instagram campaign titled "I'm a Clockenflapper".
“We are working with 22 Hong Kong key opinion leaders with high Instagram followings and, since end-October until the Clockenflap 2013 festival weekend, we will get them to post up to drive social-media hype, and the digital audience is 500,000 plus,” she said.
One of the key challenges for the festival is low awareness among local people of the bands that are appearing, as well as a perception that the fesitval is intended for an expat audience. The festival is actually open to all, and children under 12 get in free.
Sweeting added that the festival offers a rare escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and showcases Hong Kong as a creative destination.
The festival lineup includes Franz Ferdinand, Two Door Cinema Club from the UK, Chic (a legendary 70s band from the US), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (US), and according to Sweeting, “Some you know, but some names you may not know, so, people should come with an open mind.”
He added that this year's festival has been enlarged with seven music stages, an artist’s village, a cabaret, a silent disco and a kid's area. The British Council, together with UK Trade & Investment, will be screeing a restored Alfred Hitchcock film.
Sweeting, 36, is of Welsh and Chinese descent and was born in Hong Kong. He has always worked in the music and new media industries, including a previous career with Star TV. The other two partners, Mike Hill and Jay Forster, both have experience in event infrastructure.