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Sanremo Festival: the rise of a viral phenomenon 

Sanremo Festival has a long history and a tradition deeply rooted in Italian culture. It is one of the most important events in the music scene not only in our country but also internationally. Singers, with their performances, along with their personalities and lifestyles, often become topics of discussion and sharing on social media. It has always been very popular in Italy, an event that draws 10s millions of viewers to television (16% of Italians). Comparing it to the Oscars night of 2023, the American event was instead watched by about 18 millions of Americans (roughly 5% of the American population).

In recent years, the festival has become a true viral phenomenon, capable of capturing the attention of even the younger generations. The radical change is linked to the increasingly interconnected nature of the modern world, which has made it much easier for people from all over the world to access events like Sanremo. His format has adapted to the tastes and needs of an increasingly younger audience. The presence of emerging, innovative artists, along with dynamic and surprising performances, has expanded the event’s audience, which, while, maintaining its roots in tradition, always seeks to look towards the future. 

The difference is certainly made by extensive use of social media and platforms by organisers and artists themselves. It contributes to catalyse the viral phenomenon of Sanremo. Innovative marketing campaigns, engaging content, and direct interactions with the audience have created an unprecedented buzz around the event. Turning it into a participatory and shareable experience on global scale.

Fantasanremo as a gamification strategy

“One team, 5 players per team and a captain!”. This is the motto of Fantasanremo, a fantasy game fan-made about the Festival. This gamification strategy that since 2021 has contributed to increasing the success of the Festival especially among the younger audience in recent years. Singers don’t earn points solely based on their ranking, but the allocation of bonuses and penalties depends on a series of other factors. From giving a hug to a guest to stealing a purse from someone in the audience. As the game became more and more popular, artists became aware of it and started collecting points, thus helping the teams competing in Fantasanremo. 

This has led to a surreal experience. Although artists compete for victory, they have started, some more than others, to consider the possibility of earning points or penalties and therefore behave accordingly. For example, choosing to wear sunglasses or giving flowers to the orchestra conductor. It’s a scene reminiscent of the Hunger Games, a competition in which the audience actively participates in and almost controls. 

FOMO in the digital age

The gamification strategy, rooted in the utilisation of typical game elements, such as scoring, rewards, rankings, challenges, serve to engage and motivate people in non-gaming contexts. All of this is tied to Fear of missing out (FOMO). A phenomenon amplified in the digital age, where anxiety born out of fear of missing an experience of a significant moment. Fantasanremo encourages people to participate in the game and follow the Festival, offering them the opportunity to take part in a fun competition and be involved in the cultural phenomenon of the moment. In an era where attention spans are increasingly shrinking, engaging the audience boosts viewership and keeps everyone properly entertained. 

Fantasanremo not only incentivises people to take part in the game and tune into the festival, but it also offers them the opportunity to compete in a fun game and be involved in the cultural phenomenon of the moment. At a time of increasingly shortened attention spans, engaging with the public creates a strong sense of connection to this phenomenon that has defined Italy for 74 years.

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