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More Than Music: 5 Key Learnings from Coachella

More Than Music: 5 Key Learnings from Coachella

5 minute read

  • Festivals have now been scaled beyond the on-site experience.
  • Innovative initiatives open the door to new sponsors.
  • Brands can interact with consumers with new and multiple touchpoints.

Taking place this weekend, 2 hours east of LA is Coachella; the world renowned music and arts festival. This festival has become so much more than a weekend getaway for “Cali-hipsters”- the demographic of this festival’s fan base is diverse and stretches across a variety of ethnicities and age brackets.

As the Canadian music festival landscape continues to grow, and as corporate sponsors invested in this space look to innovate their activation approach, Coachella represents an important case study for Canadian marketers on how to scale the festival experience digitally so that fans are not constrained by distance and time. Coachella has effectively transitioned from a niche music event to a multifaceted cultural experience that is accessible to much more than the die-hard fans who make the trip to California. Here, MKTG takes a deeper dive into the marketing opportunities surrounding Coachella and what festival properties and sponsors can learn from the clear industry leader.


By leveraging the combination of VR, live streaming and broadcast, Coachella has scaled the festival beyond the on-site experience.

Didn’t grab your ticket? No problem. Coachella has you covered with livestreaming options that can be viewed via YouTube and on the festival’s home website. Capitalizing on the VR technology trend, Coachella is providing 360-degree panoramic views of the festival grounds. Consumers who download the app are able to view detailed art pieces, performances and interviews. To enhance this experience, Coachella has partnered with Vantage.tv to create its own branded VR headset. This headset comes inside the Coachella welcome box for ticket holders and is available for online purchase. New to 2017, the Coachella Mobile App is launching an “Augmented Reality” filter that consumers can utilize to explore the grounds in a new realm.  This AR filter coincides with the event’s theme of new age art and music. In Canada, this unique combination of technologies has not been executed. For Coachella, no single piece of technology is leveraged as a silver bullet solution. Rather, they use a variety of tactics simultaneously to help those not attending the festival experience the property. This scales the experience and allows current and prospective sponsors to reach a wider variety of people on mobile, broadcast and digital platforms.


 Coachella has gone beyond music to create a multifaceted cultural experience

Due to Coachella being at a more mature stage in its life cycle, the property has sought ways to trade on its brand equity and expand into different spaces via programming in the visual arts space. Art installations from established and up-and-coming artists add great value to the Coachella experience. Abstract pieces are built and strategically placed on the festival grounds, creating a richer environment for guests; the result is longer time spent on-site, providing attendees more opportunities to engage with sponsored activations.

In Canada, many music festivals are in the earlier stages of development and expansion into territory beyond music may not always be strategically viable or aligned to their focus area. However, by evolving beyond music, Coachella is now seen as a tastemaker in all aspects of culture, similar to SXSW.  The output of this is a wider variety of sponsorable assets and more opportunities to engage a diverse roster of prospective sponsors.


Coachella encourages unique sustainability initiatives that open the door for new sponsors

Festivals can become a dumpsite. Coachella promotes a wide array of sustainability initiatives that help festival goers act in more environmentally conscious ways. The Recycling Store is an on-site activation and pop-up (sponsored by Global Inheritance) that rewards festival goers who recycle plastic bottle and cans with VIP Upgrades, Coachella merch and ferris wheel tickets. Further, Coachella cross-pollinates its art and sustainability programming through their robotic dinosaur activation. Don’t know where to recycle? Just look for the massive 20-foot dinosaur. This robotic moving dinosaur roams the grounds looking for recyclable materials while interacting with guests.

At many Canadian festivals, recycling efforts exist, but are not marketed. Coachella has created a brand and an experience around its sustainability efforts. These efforts now create opportunities for the festival to engage sponsors who do not traditionally invest in music - but who perhaps leverage sustainability as a key CSR pillar - around the opportunity to tell compelling stories around their sustainability efforts.


On-Site Camping allows outdoor adventure sponsors to demonstrate the functional benefits of their products in a way that adds-value to the festival experience.  

Coachella has set up campsites to withstand the desert-like environment of Indio, California. On-site camping represents a new and differentiated sponsorable platform for brands who may not historically have an entry point into festival sponsorship. For example, Marriott decided to leverage Coachella’s campsite as a way to bring more awareness to their loyalty program. Marriott creates boutique hotel style tents on-site that can be won only by signing up and using the Marriott Rewards loyalty program. Festivals can now map out every aspect of the consumer experience to add value with authentic partners.


Spotify Partnership creates a strong platform for brands to showcase personality

Coachella allows artists of choice to curate special playlists that are available for public listening as a part of the festival pre-launch. Opportunities now exist for brands to deepen their connection to the festival by creating branded playlists that give them an ownership position pre-festival, where there is less clutter and competition for share of voice. The branding opportunity allows corporate sponsors to scale their reach to not only ticket holders and attendees, but fans of the artists. This now gives the chance for brands to be present in the minds of consumers in advance. The window of engagement is now extended and the barrier of time is removed.

As the festival scene continues to expand in Canada, Coachella will offer sponsorship marketers a number of key learnings. The festival is a leading example of how to take an on-site experience and scale it to a larger audience. Take a close look Canada because Coachella has officially arrived.

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