After weekend one of Coachella 2019 came to a close, the festival unsurprisingly proved to be a standout event for influencers, brands, and attendees. With performances by headliners, Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande, this year also showcased a historic set by BLACKPINK and an amusing performance by Billie Eilish. While festivalgoers may have remarked about the fest’s seemingly shrinking attendance, its stature within the festival community still dwarfs many other popular music events.
Last year, Coachella drew more than 119,000 attendees each day (700,000 attendees in total over both weekends). Though official numbers aren’t yet available, 2019 attendance will likely put up similar numbers.
Apart from physical attendees, millions tuned in online to watch the event live. YouTube will continue its livestream coverage into the second weekend for the first time this year, acting as the event’s exclusive livestream partner for the ninth year in a row.
Brand activations drew the attention of thousands in-person, but they reached into the millions online. Marketers love Coachella—here, we’ll break down the top influencer sponsorships and brand activations executed at Coachella 2019 during week one.
CGI virtual models are something of a novelty in the influencer world, but Lil Miquela has taken her career to new heights at Coachella 2019. In partnership with YouTube Music, Lil Miquela curated her own Coachella playlist and got to visit the desert to meet up with top music artists, such as J Balvin. As her first “appearance” at Coachella and first time hosting on video, the CGI influencer’s role as an artist interviewer is a head-turner.
Miquela’s journey through Coachella 2019 is documented on her Instagram feed or can be watched through YouTube interview livestreams. A look at her weekend one Instagram recap reveals an intricate story that sounds too real for a virtual robot—from losing her necklace, to posing in Coachella-themed outfits, to run-ins with music artists, to golf cart adventures, Miquela’s Coachella experience successfully lands YouTube Music among a crowd of hungry fans.
Miquela’s ability to captivate her audience and drum up interest on YouTube’s livestream channel demonstrates the legitimacy of CGI influencer brand sponsorships. While her YouTube Music partnership may further potentiate her influence, it also puts YouTube in an innovative light. YouTube’s badge as the official livestreaming partner of Coachella coupled with its CGI influencer sponsorship highlight its commitment to making the event more expansive, immersive, and experiential across the globe.
Amazon has leaped onto the Coachella 2019 scene by providing lockers for festivalgoers. Putting convenience atop glam, Amazon Lockers serve to enable attendees to store festival essentials from Amazon’s curated storefront for pickup when they arrive. The move has thrust Amazon into the Coachella spotlight, allowing the e-commerce behemoth to flex its festival muscles.
Amazon cleverly capitalizes on Coachella by catering to the needs of thousands of event attendees who struggle to transport all their festival accessories and items. By shopping on Amazon’s Coachella shop, festivalgoers don’t have to worry about forgetting their phone charger, sunblock, handheld fan, Polaroid camera, jewelry, or snacks—they can purchase all these items and more, and have them shipped to an Amazon Locker on Coachella’s grounds.
To raise awareness about the festival perk, Amazon partnered up with a handful of Instagram influencers, including Charlotte Bridgeman (@charlottebridgeman), Lissette Calveiro (@lissettecalv), Mike Tommasiello (@nydoorman), and most prominently, Vanessa Hudgens (@vanessahudgens). Each influencer noted the ease and convenience of utilizing Amazon Lockers and used the tag #AmazonLocker for consistent messaging.
As the official technology sponsor of Coachella, HP pulled out all the stops for Coachella marketing. The brand implemented two distinct experiential marketing campaigns:
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 with festivalgoers. 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 media.
HP also worked with Intel to put on quite the “Underwater” show for the release of Rüfüs Du Sol’s new visual music video. Pop artist TJ Black (@cloudtalkmusic), singer Jaci Butler (@jacibutler), stunt actor Kevin Arnold (@kevinarnold), visual designer Kyle Huber (@asenseofhuber), and actor Reid Harper (@reidhaprer16) were five notable influencers who created sponsored Instagram content highlighting the creative HP activations.
On pace with last year, American Express propped up its influencer marketing strategy and brand ambassador program through its ongoing #AmexAmbassadors campaign. Showcasing influencers and conventional celebrities enjoying exclusive benefits and experiences that come with having an American Express credit card, the #AmexLife at Coachella is high-class.
In keeping up with its reputation for exclusivity and a luxury lifestyle, American Express hosted a star-studded party in its Amex Platinum House for influencers and card members. The event and Coachella installation served to strengthen the association between an American Express card and luxurious experiences.
Much like it did at Coachella 2018, the brand partnered with a cast of celebrities and mega-influencers to promote its platinum card and Coachella party. Model Rocky Barnes (@rocky_barnes), singer Cierra Ramirez (@cierraramirez), creative directors Patric Janelle (@aguynamedpatrick) and Jones Crow (@jonescrow), fashion and entertainment influencer Stephanie Ann Shepherd (@steph_shep), nail artist Britney Tokyo (@britneytokyo), and actress Kathryn Newton (@kathrynnewton) were eight of the celebrity influencers who shared sponsored content on Instagram.
Playing off the brand’s Spring 2019 campaign featuring celebrity influencers like Kendall Jenner and Shawn Mendes, the #MyCalvins House at Coachella gave fans the chance to recreate shareable photo moments from the campaign. Those who entered were meant to feel like a “houseguest” as they traveled through rooms of the house.
In preparation for the event, Calvin Klein partnered up with various Instagram influencers to promote their extended site discount on their festival collection. Ronald W. Thomas II (@themaleprepster), Kristen Bousquet (@kbousq), Denzel Bryan (@thedenzelb), On Refaeli (@onrefaeli), Liz Beecroft (@lizbcroft), Mauro (@maurorja), and Prince (@princelifted) were seven of a handful of fashion influencers who shared sponsored Instagram posts leading up to and during the event.
In addition, Calvin Klein sponsored rapper sensation CHIKA (@oranicuhh) as she performed her new single, “No Squares” at the #MyCalvins House Coachella. The music video features the music artist wearing a custom Calvin Klein white tee with her name CHIKA in the branded font.
Perhaps the largest influencer presence at Coachella over the years, REVOLVE is no stranger to livening up the Coachella party. At Coachella 2018, the brand hosted an invite-only “REVOLVE Festival” on April 14-15 that included musical acts among the likes of A$AP Rocky and Snoop Dog. The clothing brand’s Coachella initiatives have a reputation for being mini-festivals themselves.
Fast forward to Coachella 2019, and REVOLVE was on the same track working with Kendall Jenner, Cardi B, and Emily Ratajkowski to kick off weekend one at V Palm Springs Hotel to host over 130 influencers, artists, models, and musicians.
To amplify the reach of its Coachella activation, the brand recruited the help of influencers and celebrities who showcased their presence at REVOLVE Festival wearing the brand’s clothing. Actress Shay Mitchell (@shaymitchell), designer Draya Michele (@drayamichele), DJ Lupe Fuentes (@lupefuentes), model Janice Joostema (@janicejoostema), and actress Madison Pettis (@madisonpettis) were among the celebrities who created sponsored content.
On the influencer side, lifestyle blogger Talia Hubble (@talliia), model Elysée McMenamin (@elysemcmenamin), model and DJ Apphia (@phiphibb), and YouTuber Alena Nazarova (@alena_n_star) promoted the #RevolveFestival campaign.
At one of Coachella’s most exclusive music festival parties, high-profile influencers received the ultimate VIP experience with women’s clothing brand SHEIN at its luxury resort. The off-site event featured poolside fun with a cast of influencers wearing SHEIN apparel in the desert sun.
SHEIN worked with a group of select influencers, including Jordyn Jones (@jordynjones), Ashley Nichole (@ashnichole_xo), Mia Stammer (@miastammer), Adelaine Morin (@adelainemorin), Leli Hernandez (@whleli), Nury Jimenez (@nuryjimenez), and Daisy Marquez (@daisymarquez_). Each influencer either shared custom discount codes for followers to do some festival item shopping or provided links and product IDs for fans to shop their featured SHEIN outfit. SHEIN’s reputation as a trendy, youthful, and affordable apparel line paired nicely with desert festival fashion trends.
Similar to REVOLVE’s strategy of creating its own festival experience at Coachella complete with musical acts and a beer garden, Heineken created “Heineken House Evolution.” As its name suggests, the “house” was an intimate venue featuring musical performances from The Roots and more, as well as a non-alcoholic brew and Heineken beer for those 21 and older. 2019 marked Heineken’s 18th year attending the festival and the beer brand has been the longtime official brew of Coachella. Heineken further establishes itself as a key part of the festival landscape by evolving the Heineken House experience each year.
To promote the attraction to festival attendees, the brand collaborated with a diverse set of celebrity music artists. DJ Diplo (@diplo), music group The Roots (@theroots), DJ group Niiko x SWAE (@niikoxswae), musician DECADON (@decadon), and DJ/producer Ravell (@ravell) are just a few Instagram celebs who amped up fans for the Heineken House music performance by sharing tagged Instagram posts.
Also, Daily Mail shared a sponsored Instagram post featuring celeb Diplo displaying a host of other music artists in attendance. The paid partnership with Heineken induced further excitement in anticipation of weekend two through adjacent sponsorships like this example.
Similar to Heineken’s Coachella brand activation, alcohol brand and Coachella partner Absolut created a similar installation for festival attendees at its sustainable planet Absolut Tent. The on-site booth included specialty cocktails and live musical performances. Unlike Heineken, the brand focused on providing refreshments for festivalgoers as well as satiating the thirst of those unable to unattend with drink recipe ideas shared on Instagram.
To promote the activation, Absolut collaborated with influencers of all sizes to create sponsored Instagram content. Actress Rachel Faulkner (@rachel_fbabyy), Bachelorette contestant Dean Unglert (@deanie_babies), actor Calvin Seabrooks (@larrygayvid), lifestyle influencer Caitlin Bea (@caitlinbea), YouTuber Everett Williams (@everettwilliams), creator Eugenie Grey (@feralcreature), fashion influencer Nikia (@madmavenstyle), travel influencer René Daniella (@ownbyfemme), and artist Gregory Violet (@gregoryviolet) were nine influencers of an even larger cast of Instagram stars used to promote Absolut’s Coachella experience.
For the third year in a row, luxury car manufacturer BMW continued its #RoadToCoachella marketing campaign, which gives select influencers the chance to travel to Coachella in specialty BMWi model vehicles.
This year, the brand partnered with global superstar singer and highly anticipated Coachella headlining act Khalid (@thegr8khalid). The cover of his new album “Free Spirit” serves as inspiration for the festival fleet of BMWi vehicles, featuring unique Coachella-inspired exterior designs for the i8 model.
Fans were able to virtually join the travels of celeb Paris Hilton (@parishilton), filmmaker Kade Speiser (@kade), dancer Jade Chynoweth (@jadebug98), actor Ross Butler (@rossbutler), actress and singer Laura Marano (@lauramarano), fashion model Lena Gercke (@lenagercke), and various other celebs on Instagram.
BMW also invited a group of macro- and mega-influencers to document their journey to Coachella riding in the BMW i8 designed models. Top influencers included YouTube sisters Saiyr and Emaza (@ceraadi), creator Alisha Marie (@alisha), lifestyle influencer Jacqueline Mikuta (@mikutas), and blogger Nina Schwichtenberg (@fashiioncarpet), three of which have upwards of one million Instagram followers.
Cosmetics retailer Sephora created a lavish and immersive experience for festivalgoers with The Zoe Report. To do so, the brand created an official Sephora Beauty Lounge where festival attendees could receive free makeovers, hang out with fashionista Rachel Zoe, watch a performance by Pamela Katz Tick, and see a custom installation by Coco & Breezy.
In an effort to reach audiences beyond the festival, the brand also created a designated area where attendees could snap pictures with friends and post to social media. The activation received press from Los Angeles Magazine, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Instagrammers showcased their presence at the Sephora Lounge, but the brand also recruited beauty influencers to highlight its festival makeup more generally, including Caitlyn Warakomski (@caitlynwarakomski), Joyjah Estrada (@joyjah), Richard (@richaard2609), Brie McKay (@briannemckay), and Daniela Cadena (@danichain).
Rachel Zoe (@rachelzoe) herself shared a sponsored Instagram post showcasing the Sephora Beauty Lounge at the ZOEasis activation.
As an official Coachella cosmetics partner, NYX Professional Makeup hosted its Glitter Trip activation with digital beauty experiences, including a makeup touch-up area, a glitter fountain, and a lip and tongue slide for Instagrammable shots. Highlighting its Glitter Goals Collection, NYX also leveraged celeb makeup artist Nam Vo’s custom makeup looks to recreate on-site using the new product line.
Leading the promotional charge were beauty gurus Sophie Hannah (@sophiehannah), Frankie James Grande (@frankiejgrande), Veronica Diaz (@modajustcoco), Nyane Lebajoa (@nyane), Rowi Singh (@rowisingh), Natalie Kisel (@elmofeo), PONY (@ponymakeup), Roz (@model_roz), Rosy McMichael (@rosymcmichael), and Makayla London (@mvkdre). Most beauty influencers shared Instagram posts showing off their glam Coachella looks using NYX products, which were also shared on NYX’s Instagram feed.
Coachella’s photo-centric nature combined with the desert heat and lack of running water challenges festivalgoers wanting to stay camera ready throughout the day. NYX taps into this pain point by providing a mecca for attendees to tend to their beauty needs. Beyond the basics, NYX takes it further by fostering fun, one-of-a-kind experiences to delight beauty fans and promote brand affinity to those unfamiliar with NYX.