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MKTG’s LIVE Roundtable: Coachella’s Stand-Out Activations

MKTG’s LIVE Roundtable: Coachella’s Stand-Out Activations

5 Minute Read

·         MKTG’s LIVE team discusses their favourite activations and why they were successful at this year’s Coachella.

·         Canadian festivals can learn from Coachella by incorporating more unique on-site photo-opps, activations that truly enhance the festival experience and a higher use of influencers.

·         Outside the festival category, properties need to pay more attention to the consumer journey and how to create more "once in a lifetime" experiences.

Coachella is one of the world’s most renowned and developed art and music festivals which allows brands to activate seamlessly with unique creativity to enhance the on-site experience for attendees. With Coachella’s epic two weekend line up of musicians, art and activations recently concluding, we gathered the LIVE team at our Roundtable to discuss their favourite brand integration's at this year’s festival. We discuss what the key learnings are for festivals in Canada and takeaways for properties outside the festival category.

This week’s Roundtable includes Will, Rachel and Amy from our LIVE team.

Pick your favourite activation at this year’s Coachella and why it worked.

Amy's Favourite: Marriott's Pop-up Yurts

About the activation: Marriott offered their loyalty members a chance to stay in luxurious yurts at Coachella – a circular tent, decked out with all the essential music festival necessities including Wi-Fi, a private restroom and shower, a stocked minifridge and 24-hour security. The yurts were modeled on W Hotels & Resorts locations in Dubai, Barcelona, Bali and Hollywood. Guests had the opportunity to bid on the stay using their Starwood Preferred Guest points, offering this exclusive experience to some of their most loyal customers while creating buzz among attendees.

Why it worked: Marriott considered the consumer experience beyond the festival itself by providing a one-of-a-kind experience that targeted what can be seen a pain-point to consumers (accommodations, travel to and from the festival area) and extended the engagement window.  The yurts appeal to the demographic that attends Coachella, having a disposable income and an interest in travelling. This activation also helps Marriott to reinvent not only their brand, but also the hotel industry which has been challenged by the sharing market in recent years (i.e. Airbnb).  By mimicking the experience after some of their in-market hotels in indulgent destinations, they showcased their product.

Rachel's Favourite: The #RevolveFestival

About the activation: This two-day mini festival (Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend) is one of the most talked about experiences of Coachella and is definitely one of the hottest invitations to have. Fashion brand Revolve acted as a host across many hotels to create mini festivals that only prominent influencers and celebrities were invited to, which created a private branded retreat from the mainstages of Coachella. The festival had amazing artists perform such as Snoop Dog and Chance the Rapper, which kept the energy flowing among guests.

Why it worked: The Revolve Festival provided a great space for content creation and Instagram-able moments for the influencers and celebrities attending. Not only could you take the must-have Coachella pictures with vintage cars and flowers, but Revolve also brought in Michael Jackson’s Neverland’s carousel – a one-in-a-lifetime activation. My final reason is the incredible number of top-tier influencers they secured for the weekend which provided fantastic content that Revolve was able to leverage for their website and overall brand awareness. Some influencers were also able to explore new digital trends by filming the experience in 360° with a GoPro Fusion. It will be interested to see how Revolve can outdo itself next year.

Will's Favourite: Google Home

About the Activation: Google leveraged their partnership with Coachella to develop a fully integrated campaign that highlighted their product capabilities leading up to and during the festival. Their at home focus showcased the abilities of the Google Home and VR capabilities of their handsets while the on-site strategy centred around the outstanding quality of the Pixel 2 smartphone utilizing art and influencers to generate awareness. 

Why it worked: Each tech device they chose to highlight played a complimentary role in enhancing the over all attendee experience while showcasing the abilities of their product line. Everything from enhancing the YouTube live stream through VR180 to creating branded photo opportunities on the Coachella Ferris Wheel made the partnership feel purposeful and authentic. This year’s Coachella was clearly on #TeamPixel (Google highlighted the Pixel phone and camera quality) and all for good reason. Google showed it understands the festival attendee and their photo taking needs, cares about their overall experience and knows how to reach them in an authentic way.

How can festivals in Canada benefit from tactics used at Coachella?

Amy: Brands should consider the entire consumer journey to identify unique areas to activate in. By recognizing pain-points that festival consumers face and providing a solution that is immersed in the festival culture, brands can stand out on-site. For example, the Boots & Hearts camping experience is very packed close together, loud, etc. To enhance the experience, a resort brand could erect cabins or mini cottages for guests to stay in and offer a luxurious experience that aligns with the festival & their target demographic.

Rachel: I think Canadian Festivals such as Osheaga can benefit from a larger presence of influencers. The trend of influencers is on the rise as more people engage with social media tools such as Instagram and YouTube. This also means for brands that it’s easier to find someone that resonates not only with the Osheaga demographic but also specifically the brand’s key messaging. My recommendation for a Canadian festival is to consider a combination of Canadian and international influencers, depending on the desired outcome. A well-known name has the potential to increase Platinum or VIP ticket sales. On the flip side, several social media influencers could help carry the brands message to a wider audience. There is definitely room to explore this increasing trend.

Will: Canadian festivals need to consider brand activations as part of the overall festival experience. While the artists can draw a crowd, brands can play a big role in enhancing the overall experience. With that said, the most effective way to do this is by partnering with brands in an authentic way that shows you understand your audience and how to communicate with them best in the space. When done right, brand activations can be just as memorable as their favourite performance. On the flip side, brands need to take the festival space more seriously as you have a captive audience of thousands over 2-3 days who have disposable income and are looking to make memories that will last a lifetime. They need to understand the power of this space and figure out how to become part of that memory.

What can properties outside the festival category learn from Coachella?

Amy: Properties should consider the entire consumer journey as well to approach brands with new and unique assets to create branded experiences. For example, looking at the consumer journey from transit stations to sports game venues such as the enhancing the TFC parade from Liberty Village in downtown Toronto.

Rachel: I believe Coachella has been successful because it has allowed its partners the freedom to be creative with their activations. Sports venues can learn from this by working with their existing partners to find unique ways to promote their brand. This could mean exploring a gap in the consumer experience or leverage unused assets to create a memorable fan moment. With more flexibility, brands usually have a way of flourishing and the venue will benefit indirectly from the increase in their partner’s brand awareness and overall consumer appeal.

Will: I think sports properties in Canada rely heavily on brand messaging and unifying their fan base through sport much like a festival aims to unify its attendees through music and experiences. I believe the NHL understands that consumers care about new experiences and continue to innovate with annual outdoor games. These provide a festival like atmosphere to stimulate fan support and activate with brand partners. I think other sports properties could benefit from creating these types of “once in a lifetime” experiences to provide a platform to engage with fans and enhance the viewer experience.


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