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Coachella 2018 has already proven to be a standout event for influencers, brands, and attendees. The festival’s first weekend was marked by a historic Beyoncé performance that’s being lauded as quite possibly the greatest Coachella set of all time.
Apart from last weekends physical attendees, millions tuned in online to watch the event live. Over the course of the first weekend, YouTube’s official livestream garnered 41 million live views from 232 countries. Beyoncé’s performance attracted 498,00 simultaneous viewers, shattering a record for the most viewed Coachella performance in history.
Brand activations also drew the attention of thousands in-person online. Here we’ll break down the top influencer sponsorships executed at Coachella week one.
American Express is a company well known for its influencer marketing campaigns and brand ambassador program. Its ongoing #AmexAmbassadors campaign showcases influencers and conventional celebrities enjoying exclusive benefits and experiences that come with having an American Express credit card.
In keeping with its reputation for exclusivity and a luxury lifestyle, the brand hosted a star-studded party in its Amex Platinum House for influencers and platinum card members. The event and Coachella installation served to strengthen the association between an American Express card and luxurious experiences.
The brand partnered with a star-studded cast of celebrities to promote its platinum card and Coachella party. Actress Laverne Cox (@lavernecox), singer Justine Skye (@justineskye), and model Rocky Barnes (@rocky_barnes) were just three of the celebrity influencers who captured their appearance at the gathering via sponsored content on Instagram.
As the official technology sponsor of Coachella, HP pulled out of all the stops for Coachella week one marketing. The brand implemented two distinct experiential marketing campaigns: an HP lounge available for attendees to recuperate and test recently launched HP products and an 11,000-square-foot-dome called “The Antarctic,” displaying audiovisual art powered by HP products.
Coachella is an event celebrating music, art, and creativity. HP’s execution of both art-centric installations aligns the brand with Coachella’s central themes and ingratiates the brand to festival goers. To enhance the impact of both installations HP partnered with a wide array of millennial influencers, reflective of Coachella’s dominant demographic, to showcase the installations on social.
Photographer Grady Brannan (@gradybrannan), USC student and entrepreneur Markian Benhamou (@markianb), and fashion influencer Maddie Greer (@maddiegreer) were three notable influencers who created sponsored Instagram content highlighting HP.
Today, a number of coffee giants compete for business. Amid stiff competition from trendy millennial coffee favorites like Starbucks and Stumptown, Peet’s Coffee seized Coachella as a perfect opportunity to make inroads with Millennials.
To drum up “coffee buzz” and awareness surrounding its cold brew coffee, Peet’s hosted an online giveaway in March awarding 3-day VIP Coachella passes. At the actual event, the coffee maker advertised its cold brew coffee exclusively. To do so, Peet’s arrived with a branded bus serving cold brew, an “Ice Sauna” photobooth, and branded trikes offering attendees free cold brew samples.
To promote its brand activations Peet’s teamed up with an array of micro and macro millennial influencers. Its roster included radio host Chelsea Briggs (@chelsea_briggs), photographer Scott Borrero (@scottborrero), and professional surfer Brianna Cope (@briannacope). Each showcased the brand’s cold brew beverages. Pointedly, the diversity of the influencers involved served to emphasize that Peet’s cold brew fits into the lifestyle of any millennial.
At Coachella 2017, REVOLVE rented out an entire hotel, opened a pop-up shop exclusively for social media content creation, and reportedly dressed 416 influencers. The clothing brand’s Coachella initiatives have a reputation for being mini-festivals themselves. In a continuation of its past Coachella success REVOLVE hosted an invite-only “REVOLVE Festival” on April 14-15 that included musical acts among the likes of A$AP Rocky and Snoop Dog.
To amplify the reach of Coachella initiative the brand recruited the help of 25+ influencers and celebrities who showcased their presence at REVOLVE Festival wearing the brand’s clothing. Model Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner) and actress Shay Mitchell (@shaymitchell) were among the celebrities who created sponsored content. On the influencer side, YouTuber Patricia Bright (@thepatriciabright) was a top performer.
Similar to REVOLVE’s strategy of creating its own festival experience at Coachella complete with musical acts, Heineken created “Heineken House.” As its name suggests, the “house” was an intimate venue featuring musical performances from Busta Rhymes and more, as well as Heineken beer for those 21 and older.
To promote the attraction to festival attendees the brand collaborated with a diverse set of millennial macro-influencers. Photographer and influencer Kyle Huber (@asenseofhuber), DJ Brittany Sky (@brittanysky), and influencer Will Nichols (@willnichols) each shared sponsored content of themselves enjoying Heineken beverages over the weekend.
For the second year in a row, luxury car manufacturer BMW continued with its #RoadToCoachella marketing campaign, which gives select influencers the chance to travel to Coachella in specialty BMW vehicles.
This year, the brand partnered with a highly anticipated Coachella performer: singer John Gourley (@portugaltheman) of Portugal. The Man. In collaboration with BMW, Gourley created unique Coachella-inspired exterior designs for the i8 and i3.
BMW then invited a group of macro-influencers to document their journey to Coachella riding in the Gourley designed models. Top influencers included Jamie Chung (@jamiejchung), Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat), Julie Sarinana (@sincerelyjules), and Taylor Hill (@taylor_hill), all of which have upwards of one million Instagram followers.
Similar to Heineken’s Coachella brand activation, alcohol brand Absolut created a similar installation for festival attendees called “Absolut Open House.” The on-location booth included specialty cocktails and live musical performances. Unlike Heineken, the brand combined event marketing and social good by positioning its activation as a celebration of, “…all cultures, identities, and people.”
To promote the activation, Absolut collaborated with influencers of all sizes to create sponsored Instagram content. Singer Rita Ora (@ritaora), a performer at that House, was one of the largest influencers involved with 13 million followers. On the other end of the spectrum, fashion influencer Alex May (@alexmicharlmay) showcased her Absolut Coachella experience to a much more centralized audience of 41,000.
Cosmetics retailer Sephora took a similar approach to Absolut in emphasizing a highly inclusive Coachella experience. To do so, the brand created an official Sephora tent where festival attendees could receive free makeovers.
In an effort to reach audiences beyond festival attendees the brand also created a designated area where attendees could snap pictures with friends and post to social media. The activation received press from Clevver News, BuzzFeed, People Magazine, and more.
In addition to having influencers showcase their presence at the Sephora tent, the brand recruited influencers to also highlight its festival makeup more generally. For instance, lifestyle influencer Sa Landreth (@samlandreth) says in a caption, “@SC has all the best festival season colors! All the prettiest shades to make your look stand out at Coachella and beyond.” Influencers Candice Nikeia (@candicenikeia) and Kaity Towner (@kaitlynoelle) were also involved.