“The gold standard of pop music gatherings” is just one way a Los Angeles Times article described Coachella last month on its 20th anniversary. Yet, its “tastemaker event” status is a far cry from where it began, though its potential even then was hard to ignore. In fact, since its inaugural event, everything surrounding Coachella has grown. One weekend became two, while attendance year-over-year has doubled as well. It’s no surprise ticket prices followed suit, near triple their per-day cost. Yet, the value is there.
Coachella, though still about the music, is much more than that. It’s a mecca for art, fashion, and lifestyle, driving brands to attach their names to this festival that hosts some of our best pop culture moments. And like the festival itself, Coachella brand activations have grown larger in number and in scale. In turn, they’ve also become a critical element of the event’s big appeal.
The landscape of Coachella brand activations, like the festival, changes year to year. For example, H&M traded its usual big activation for a street team of brand ambassadors. Though scaled down, the one-on-one interaction offers big value in building consumer connections. But, other brands, like HP, stayed the course. The tech giant brought back its 11,000-square foot Antarctic Dome, which virtually immersed viewers in water. It also hosted other installations. These include its psychedelic “Dreamland” lounge and “Inspired Ink” experience. The latter allowed visitors to get hands-on with HP products and make custom drawstring backpacks or design their own selfie backdrop to take and share photos on the spot. And this is just a sampling of the ways HP touched people and made a lasting impression. Still, other Coachella brand activations landed somewhere in the middle of H&M and HP to also offer big value. These include:
Cannabis may have not been permitted on Coachella grounds. But it didn’t stop Rolling Stone from bringing it to attendees and others outside the festival gates. The pop culture publication partnered with cannabis company Harvest House of Cannabis to host a pop-up experience of the same name. For four days, visitors got a chance to see “smokeable art” creations and take in cannabis-infused cooking tips from chef Hawaii Mike. They also chilled out with musical performances, DJ sets, and CBD-infused massages and yoga, as well as product samples. Specialized staffing of these novel and interactive elements made it all possible.
As Coachella’s exclusive beauty partner, NYX Professional Makeup shined at this year’s festival. Brand ambassadors, just as bright and as bold as the company’s products, took visitors on a “glitter trip” of various destinations. For example, inside the brand’s tent, they could recharge their bodies and their devices. They could also refresh their looks at the brand’s beauty bar, which provided access to all its products. Those seeking adventure could let makeup artists recreate looks designed by a celebrity artist for NYX and Coachella. Still, the trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the glitter fountain and down the tongue slide, both making for Instagram-worthy posts.
This beauty brand opted, like Harvest House of Cannabis, to not only reach Coachella attendees, but also those driving to other destinations near the festival site. YSL Beauty opened what appeared to be a service station, featuring pink gas pumps, cars, and a tour bus. And, it was, except not for automobiles. Instead, the pop-up shop allowed visitors, greeted by a lipstick sign and heart-shaped balloons, to tune up their makeup. Interactive elements included “a lipstick customizer, virtual mirror that lets customers instantly try on more than 50 shades of lipstick, and a makeup vending machine.” It was a fun surprise and helped everyone look their best for any occasion.
The credit card company, which has attendance at many pop culture events, made sure to touch its customers both on and off the festival grounds. Its Platinum House gave card members who were not at Coachella a place to lounge – with music, food, cocktails, and beauty services. It also provided a dedicated area for networking. Meanwhile, at Coachella, the Card Member Lounge offered cocktails and relaxation; services like sneaker cleaning, monogramming, and nail art; and free rides on the iconic ferris wheel. Their dual presence keeps them front of mind for anyone in the area. More important, their Coachella brand activations show customers how valued they are.
A Business Insider article tells one way Coachella is “atypical” from other music festivals. And that’s its restricted alcohol policy. Unlike most events where attendees roam free with drinks in hand, Coachella keeps alcohol in certain areas to allow others to better enjoy the music. This could be one reason the Absolut vodka brand put focus on something other than its product. That was its commitment to sustainability. Its messaging urged attendees to “Love Your Planet”. And it reinforced this through use of recyclable cups and branded recycling bins. Yet, there was also fun to be had, with cocktails, dancing, and fun photo backdrops, providing a well-rounded experience.
It was the debut activation for the most beloved social media site by younger millennials and Gen Z. And perhaps, its presence is overdue considering the significance of aesthetics by its power users – many of them in attendance at Coachella. In fact, to date, Instagram has over five million posts tagged with #coachella and other related hashtags. So, Instagram showed up in style and made the most of its time with select users at the brand’s “Desert Chill House”. Here, attendees gained access to amazing backdrops, ranging from murals to pools, that combined styles of the 70s with desert landscapes, for amazing Instagram posts. This was in partnership with an artist who reworked some photos taken on-site by a photographer. She used her “doodle bombing” technique to give the photos more depth and attendees more value for their time spent with Instagram at Coachella.
The Elevate team had a blast at Coachella 2019! Over the years, we’ve enjoyed ‘upping’ the value of many Coachella brand activations with our experiential staffing services. We welcome the opportunity to increase the value for your brand, too.