The Vans Warped Tour is celebrating its 20th anniversary in grand style, at least from a sponsorship perspective.

The iconic teen-centric traveling music festival has inked a three-year presenting sponsorship with Genesco Inc.’s Journeys footwear chain. The retailer replaces AT&T Inc., which dropped its presenting sponsorship in 2009.

Journeys is activating the tie in its more than 800 stores (point of purchase displays, sales of VWT compilation CDs, etc.) with tentative plans to serve as a ticket outlet in 2015 and beyond.

Journeys also has partnered with two VWT bands. Crown the Empire will sign autographs in the retailer’s on-site promotional booth while Echosmith will perform private backstage acoustic sets.

The deal brings together two Nashville companies. Genesco is based in Nashville while 4Fini, Inc.—the production company that owns and produces the Vans Warped Tour—sells sponsorship out of its office in the Music City.

Other new VWT sponsors include WARHEADS candy, F’Real milkshakes, Western Digital (digital storage) and Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s Kotex.

IEG SR spoke with Kate Truscott, 4-Fini sponsorship, about the Journeys partnership. Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

On the genesis of the partnership
Journeys was an obvious fit for a long time. We met several times but the timing was never quite right, they had other initiatives in place that worked for them at the time and they were quite happy with.

The partnership came together quickly. We did in one day what typically takes several weeks or months. Once the conversation started we both realized it was an obvious fit, and they were able to really make VWT their focus for the summer months.

Journeys’ goal is to go big and we plan to grow the partnership over the next three years.

On the value of in-store promotional support
A large part of the value is the placement that Journeys has given us in their stores.

When we were discussing the partnership we offered not to advertise in malls where there isn’t a Journeys. My contact said “I challenge you to find a mall where there isn’t a Journeys.”

That’s advertising that money can't buy. It lets us put our message in front of our audience where they already spend time.

On working with retailers on ticket sales 
We have worked for years with D-TOX, a retailer based in Montreal. They purchase tickets from us and sell them as part of a promotional effort. They repackage the tickets in limited-edition packages that include artist T-shirts and other products.

Last year when we didn’t play Montreal they added a shuttle bus to the package, and brought several hundred fans from Montreal to the Toronto show where we worked with them to provide a special "you drove all the way here so we are going to make this awesome for you" VIP experience.

Ultimately, the hope is for Journeys to serve as a more traditional ticket outlet on a larger national scale.  

On Journeys as a marketing partner, not a sponsor
Journeys’ approaches the relationship as a partnership. They told us from the beginning, if they were going to do this, they want to be fully invested and really create a cohesive campaign.

We have met with their teams directly, they have come to our offices, we have done site visits together—they are fully invested in the tour and really bringing the two companies together to make the best possible partnership, from top to bottom.  

Journeys is supporting the Warped Eco recycling program by providing T-shirts to volunteers. They will also sponsor our charity bowling tournament in San Diego to benefit The TJ Martell Foundation and they’ll have a big employee day at our upcoming show in Nashville.