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While good old Glastonbury is still more about bands than brands, other festivals are increasingly becoming overshadowed by commercial involvement. 

Case in point: Coachella.

Last weekend, the Californian desert was home to music, merriment, and a whole heap of marketing - with brands taking the opportunity to capitalise on the ‘coolest’ event in the calendar.

Here’s a few examples of how brands of all kinds capitalised on it.

Pop-ups and parties

This year, brand involvement began even before Coachella started, with ecommerce retailer Revolve taking advantage of inevitable excitement and pre-festival buzz.

Revolve’s Social Club typically holds exclusive and members-only events, however, it launched a special pop-up shop – which was also open to the general public – a week before the festival started.

Selling limited edition items inspired by the festival, its aim was to generate excitement for people going as well as those who might be missing out.

Pre-festival events like these are just the beginning of the story, of course, with most pop-ups and parties occurring during the festival weekend itself.

While sponsorship is also commonplace at concerts and sporting events, festivals are the perfect environment to go one step further with an experiential marketing approach. Heineken is one example of a brand that delivers an ‘experience’ for festival-goers, using its ‘Heineken House’ concept to entertain visitors and bring a sense of fun along with its brand message.

This year, the pop-up included a sustainable dancefloor – powered by the movement of dancers during musical sets – and a free water initiative designed to encourage responsible drinking.

Freebies

It’s ironic that the more famous people become, the more freebies they're able to get their hands on. Coachella is no exception, providing the perfect spotlight for brands for showcase their products, with the knowledge that the images will be circulated in the media and fashion magazines.

Meanwhile, luxury brands are willing to give away products simply because the Coachella demographic is exactly the type of consumer they would normally target. For instance, tequila company Casa Dragones partnered with a startup helicopter service to offer consumers a journey like no other. (Yes, I did say 'startup helicopter service'. Moving swiftly on.)

Offering free shots to all passengers, it ensured brand visibility at a time when consumers would be most receptive to it. 

With transportation company Tesloop also reportedly offering free rides home from after-parties, it appears companies of all kinds are vying just for the opportunity to have a presence at the festival.

Fashion inspiration

While high-end fashion designers are typically seen at Coachella, high street brands still try to emulate the festival look with items inspired by the event itself – even if they aren’t directly affiliated with it.

Urban Outfitters landed in hot water last month over its recent Coachella-themed range, so much so that the festival filed a lawsuit against the retailer for exploiting the trademark without authorisation. Free People were also hit with the lawsuit, suggesting that the items falsely implied the brand was an official sponsor.

Regardless of the outcome, this demonstrates just how synonymous Coachella has become with fashion, with brands using its name to drive sales as well as directly influence designs.

Social media influencers

These days, brands don’t only want to see their products promoted by celebrities, with some choosing to pay for social media influencers to attend festivals like Coachella instead.

This is because, instead of counting on third-party publications to cover the event, brands are able to rely on influencers dedicating posts or even entire blogs or vlogs to them. Keihl’s took several beauty influencers to Coachella this year, featuring them on its own social media channels as well as capitalising on their combined audiences.

Fleur de Force, just one influencer involved, has over 1.4m subscribers on her second YouTube channel. By working with influencers like Fleur, whose dedicated audience is likely to trust her advocacy, the brand is able to ensure extra visibility and greater authenticity – as well as a strengthened relationship with the influencers themselves.

To find out more about influencer marketing, check out Econsultancy's Rise of Influencer report.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 19 April, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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