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Salesforce & U2: 2-Year Tour Sponsorship Commitment Includes A Fan Experience App

@U2, April 09, 2015
By: Sherry Lawrence


U2 fans should start getting used to the Salesforce logo for the next two years, as the band's partnership with the data management company is set to last for at least that long, according to Lynn Vojvodich, Salesforce executive vice president and chief marketing officer. I spoke to Vojvodich at the Salesforce World Tour in Boston today.

Vojvodich made clear that the partnership is far greater than just the behind-the-scenes management of the tour. She said that Salesforce representatives will be on the concourse levels in the arenas during the U2 concerts to promote an app-based product that fans can download. While she wouldn't go into details, she said the app will elevate the fan experience with the band, as well as connect fans in a way they haven't been before.

Vojvodich said that this is a two-year commitment, and that there are plans afoot to utilize Salesforce's product with the launch of Songs Of Experience when the time comes, which matches the vision Bono gave of a more immersive fan experience when that album is released.

U2 is at a point in its career where the band needs to identify who is listening to them, how their music is being listened to, what devices are being used, how to push its content out to its audience, and why the band is trending the way it is. The band, Live Nation and Guy Oseary might be turning to Salesforce to collect that data during the Innocence + Experience tour.

It came to U2 fans as a surprise when the announcement was made on March 23, 2015 that Live Nation and Salesforce came together to "power" U2's  tour. It seemed very corporate and not an obvious fit to have a rock band sponsored by a data management company. Some questioned if the sponsorship was a result of slow ticket sales in the U.S. market. As it turns out, the partnership is designed to enhance fan engagement using Salesforce's cloud customer success platform, and to streamline tour production efforts behind the scenes.

Vojvodich explained the partnership came about as a result of many emails exchanged between Bono and Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, plus many meetings with Live Nation. Benioff and Bono are friends through shared philanthropic efforts, as well as connected to Elevation Partners' Roger McNamee. McNamee was one of the first investors in Salesforce in the late 1990s while working for venture capital firm Silver Lake Partners. Benioff and McNamee have crossed paths at technology conferences, such as the Techonomy 11 conference, where they both participated in a panel discussion on "The Case for Optimism." Benioff is also connected to Bono and Edge through a shared friendship with Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston.

Most important, Benioff and U2 share the same passion about philanthropy. In 2014, the Salesforce Foundation donated 840,000 volunteer hours, $80 million in grants and gave away its product to over 24,000 nonprofit organizations as part of its 1-1-1 model. The model is based on giving back one percent of time, one percent of equity and one percent of product, and encourages companies using its product to do the same. Salesforce takes great effort to recognize the companies that follow this model as witnessed at the Salesforce World Tour event in Boston today when they were publicly thanked during the keynote address by Keith Block, Salesforce's president and vice chairman.

Vojvodich said The Global Fund, (RED), One Campaign, Greenpeace and other organizations the band members have all supported use Salesforce for data management, prospect tracking, volunteer management, day-to-day operations and more. Live Nation also uses the cloud-based platform for its day-to-day operations. It seemed to be a no-brainer when Salesforce was approached by Live Nation to participate in the Innocence + Experience tour.

Salesforce is designed to allow companies to provide a more personalized, engaging experience for the customer. Instead of treating customers as transactions, Salesforce's intent is to engage them on a "lifetime journey" with whatever product the company is marketing. For a nonprofit, it may be to better engage volunteers or donors while streamlining administrative duties. For companies like Live Nation, it can allow staff globally to see the same information in real-time to streamline every aspect of its corporation, and provide real-time data about fan music preference, seat preference, spending habits, etc. to better market itself. For U2, the data collected might be used for fan engagement, audience demographic and further marketing opportunities while offering a more personalized experience for all.

(c) @U2/Lawrence, 2015.

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