As the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival once again descends upon the Empire Polo Club outside of Palm Springs, California, hundreds of thousands—according to Billboard Magazine, last year’s Coachella festival drew nearly 200,000 attendees over two weekends—of music lovers, artists, and revelers flock to the desert to see some of the world’s biggest musical acts, rub shoulders with celebrities at exclusive after-parties, and of course, document the entire experience on Instagram and Snapchat for their friends and followers to see.
For brands, this concentrated mass of fashion-focused, trendsetting millennial audiences represents a golden marketing opportunity, especially now that every attendee with a smartphone (read: all of them) represents a micro-broadcaster eager to share the festival’s sponsored pool parties, product giveaways, or branded services (like UberCopter) with the world (The Video Ink).
Coachella has become one of the most popular events in the world, and as the festival’s notoriety grows, brands are clamoring to gain exposure to the thousands of Coachella attendees and millions of social media followers that experience the festivities vicariously on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. (Music fans can actually watch the T-Mobile-sponsored livestreams of Coachella performances right here.)
Last year, we reported that Coachella’s collaboration with Snapchat and their subsequent Snapchat story was viewed by over 40 million people worldwide, almost 200 times the number of people who actually attended the festival. For brands wishing to reach massive (primarily young) consumers, this level of exposure is priceless.
Coachella’s reputation as a “see-and-be-seen” event makes advertising at the festival an effective way for brands to cement a “cool” brand identity among trend-setting, fashion maven attendees as well. By offering free products or branded experiences to festival-goers (who are perpetually capturing and sharing every experience on social media platforms), companies can establish a reputation for catering to and being endorsed by the most beautiful, fashionable, and aspirational social media influencers.
Aside from official Coachella sponsors like H&M, Jimmy Choo, and Sephora (who each paid in the “low-seven figures” for the opportunity, according to a recent Hollywood Reporter article), brands often create marketing opportunities by sponsoring things that festival-goers actually need. Uber, for example, constructed the Uber Lounge that includes a place for ride-sharing customers to charge their phones and grab a drink of water while waiting for their driver (Event Magazine).
POPSUGAR, a fashion and entertainment news publisher, is offering fashion D.I.Y. stations and personal brand-building sessions with a “social media video director” to help visitors create the perfect videos for their Instagram and Snapchat accounts (according to BizBash’s Alesandra Dubin).
Because Coachella is also famous for its nightlife, hosting/sponsoring parties is another way that brands can market to attendees and create positive brand associations with consumers. McDonalds is once again sponsoring the nightclub Bootsy Bellows pool party (BizBash), while Heineken’s “Heineken House” (which is actually a high-tech tent) offers complimentary refrigerated storage and DJ sets from Warren G, Diplo, and more (Vibe).
Lastly, partnering with social media influencers (who will likely be in attendance anyway) to create engaging sponsored content or showcase a product is one of the best ways that brands can increase exposure to large audiences and capitalize on the festival’s high visibility, new geo-tagging features, unique Coachella Snapchat filters, and more.
For more information on how brands work with Instagram influencers, see our post here.
The following are some of the best examples of how brands are marketing at Coachella, both through owned media channels and by collaborating with today’s top Instagrammers, YouTubers, Snapchatters, and bloggers.
To reach the fashion-conscious set of festival-goers and Coachella audiences, eyewear manufacturers Ray Ban collaborated with top fashion bloggers and Instagrammers like Blake Scott (of The Scott Effect) to create engaging Coachella Instagram posts aimed at appealing to Scott’s nearly half a million followers.
Because BCBG knows that creating the right look is one of the most important aspects of attending Coachella, the fashion-forward clothing brand partnered with YouTuber Maddi Bragg to make a Coachella 2016 Lookbook for Bragg’s 1 million subscribers. The video has been watched over 220,000 times since it was published one week ago.
One of the most attention-getting and ingenious marketing campaigns at Coachella thus far, Sonic Drive-In partnered with social media influencer Chef Jacques LaMerde to design square shakes for Instagram (reminiscent of the app’s previously-confined-to-a-square images). The shakes are available only at Coachella, are paid for simply by posting a picture on Instagram, and are hand-delivered to each festival goer using geo-targeting technology (Adnews).
Beermaker Heineken attempts to re-create an intimate club experience at the Heineken House, a popular “party within a party” that includes DJ sets from some of the biggest names in hip-hop and electronic dance music. According to a festival press release, this year’s tent will feature a state-of-the-art dance floor that converts human energy (i.e. dancing) into light beams and, of course, lots of cold beer.
As one of Coachella’s official sponsors, American Express had the luxury of being featured on the Coachella Instagram page (which has over 800K followers). The lender also offered exclusive perks for card members (available by logging into the Coachella iOS app with an AMEX ID) and provided infrastructure and support for Apple Pay integrations for festival food trucks, retailers, and other services.
In addition to publishing multiple #Coachella posts on their own Instagram channel, watchmaker Tag Heuer offered festival goers a VIP tent where those admitted could charge their phones, soak up the air conditioning, and even create highly-shareable GIFs in the company’s interactive photo booth.
Stay tuned for our subsequent daily posts featuring a deeper dive into how brands are marketing on Instagram, Snapchat, and with influencers for Coachella 2016!