Drive Brand Engagement with These Top Activation Strategies from Coachella


We’re still feeling major FOMO from Coachella 2018, particularly with Facebook’s On This Day memories bombarding one of our Co-Founder’s feeds all weekend [see classic sunset ferris wheel pic here]. This iconic festival is all about entertainment on every level and beyond, and aside from the A-list musical talent and scenery, Coachella has made its name as the Super Bowl of marketing activations targeted at millennials.

With over 137K posts featuring #Coachella2018 on Instagram from the festival’s first weekend alone, more and more savvy brands are taking advantage of the trendy target audiences and opportunities to create lengthy engagement with festivalgoers. Experience rooms and Instagram-friendly events provide small and large brands alike the chance to physically connect with their customers and boost sales for an entire season in just a few days.

Here’s a look at what went down this year and how you can look to create more memorable brand activations – festival or not.


1. Capitalise on Consumer Excitement
Both BMW and Peet’s Coffee seized the opportunity to be a part of the festival conversation in the lead up to the event with exclusive attendee experiences and on-site media activations. To drum up coffee buzz and awareness surrounding its new 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 True Cold Brew coffee exclusively, arriving with a “Better Energy” branded bus and an “Ice Sauna” photobooth. BMW continued to build anticipation for the festival on social media with its #RoadToCoachella marketing campaign, which gave select influencers the chance to travel to Coachella in specialty BMW vehicles. This year, the brand partnered with Portugal. The Man’s lead singer John Gourley to create unique Coachella-inspired exterior designs for the i8 and i3.


2. Think About Adding Value
Anybody can pay for a sponsorship, but great brands deliver something to the consumer that they can appreciate. For the past 17 years, Heineken has seamlessly integrated festival activations by both solving a problem and inspiring engagement on social. This year's Heineken House offered visitors a photo-worthy backdrop curated by graffiti artist Adam Lucas (Hanksy), free cups of water throughout the entire festival and sustainable charging stations for iOS and Droid devices using energy generated by the movement on the sustainable dance floor. Heineken’s on-demand cold storage also returned this year, where campers’ beer was stored with the brand and then delivered directly to their campsites by messengers when they text requested it. People who registered for Heineken cold storage were also eligible to win prizes, beverage tickets or front-of-line access during a performance of their choice, which helped to win and retain customers.


3. Leverage Partnerships for Something Bigger
For the third year in a row, online retailer REVOLVE has invested heavily in capsule collection activations by partnering with strategic brands to host their own mini Coachella outside the festival grounds. The invite-only #REVOLVEfestival has become the hottest and most exclusive ticket in town, taking over entire hotels to create a plethora of Instagrammable backdrops and memorable experiences for its brand ambassadors and tastemakers. This year, the brand upped the ante even further offering guests open bars by CIROC and Moet & Chandon, hip-hop musical acts among the likes of A$AP Rocky and Snoop Dogg, In-N-Out burger and Bai popsicles food trucks and free shuttles to and from Coachella by Lyft. To amplify the reach of the initiative, the brand recruited the help of 25+ influencers and celebrities such as Kendal Jenner who showcased presence at the mini-festival wearing shopping edits by the brand’s clothing lines.


4. Focus on Making It Memorable
Cultivate brand love by creating highly memorable experiences for attendees. Marriott International created a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for its SPG and Marriott Rewards members by building a pop-up hotel made of luxury yurts. The circular tents were modelled on W Hotels & Resorts locations in Dubai, Barcelona, Bali and Hollywood, and were decked out with all the essential glamping necessities including wifi, a private restroom and shower, a stocked minifridge and 24-hour security. To stay at the Yurts, potential guests bid their hotel frequent guest points on the SPG Moments platform adding an extra layer of brand buzz. Elevating an attendees’ experience at events can lead to favourable brand recall and in turn increased likelihood of individuals choosing your products in the future.


5. Strive for Authenticity
A brand can’t simply push a campaign, it has to believe in it. As the official technology sponsor of Coachella, HP has successfully integrated its brand values with Coachella’s central themes of music, art and creativity. The forward-thinking company implemented two distinct experiential marketing campaigns: an HP lounge available for attendees to recuperate and test recently launched products, and an 11,000 square-foot dome called “The Antarctic” that combined immersive storytelling, three-dimensional content and mind-blowing surround sound.  Another reoccurring festival sponsor, American Express, aligned its reputation for exclusivity and a luxury lifestyle by hosting a star-studded party in its Amex Platinum House for influencers and platinum cardholders. Both creative, art-centric installations served as an opportunity to schmooze with clients, strengthen consumer brand perceptions and attract social media influencer eyeballs.