Creativity + Commerce 2008: 3rd Place

What most impressed jurors about the Virgin Festival website was its degree of clarity, despite the massive amount of information it presented. The site covered everything from ticket purchase and musician line-up to the festival’s sound production. “I’m impressed,” says Anderson. “It’s fun, but I know how to get around.”

Creative director Rob Reed explains that the organizers of the festival (which is only in its third year) had made the website the corner-stone of its visual campaign. “We’d considered using typical rock imagery: the crowd shots, the sea of faces, the stage. But we couldn’t use the musicians, as it would be a different lineup this year. So we [focused on] the venue itself—Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course—tweaking it a little on the way.” Thus, a pole with a racehorse weathervane supported a speaker system, while a jockey floating by on a guitar was the mascot for the project. Reed adds that such web graphics proved easily adaptable elsewhere and permeated the branding for the entire event, with, for example, scrims printed with 30-foot-tall jockeys on either side of the stage.

One of the challenges for the home page, Reed says, was to list the bands without conveying any sense of preference in billing beyond the two main acts, The Police and the Smashing Pumpkins. The visual presentation gave equal prominence to the other acts; performers on the first day of the festival were listed on the left side of the pole and those for the second day on the right, in a layout that was dynamic, energetic, and informative without being confusing. As Mau observes, “This was all very fully considered. And at the same time, very intuitive.”

Also noteworthy was the effort the site made to create a sense of community both online and during the festival. Web galleries presented an oversize board where visitors could upload their own photographs, while a “green” section encouraged attendees to consider the carbon footprint of their participation by advising them on everything from mass transit to cleaning up after themselves.

Jurors agreed that this was an example of web design supporting and furthering the collective spirit that music often creates; they also concurred with Reed’s assessment that the site’s content was rich, “but [it was] heavy on design throughout.” Says Essl, “Every little thing has had attention paid to it.”

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