Activate This: 5 Upcoming Music Festivals Your Brand Needs to Be At

Posted by Gabriella Prieto on March 29, 2017
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Last spring, we highlighted 5 events that your brand needed to be at, including everything from art shows to college basketball games. This year, we're honing in on the event genre that the biggest brands are pouring their experiential marketing efforts into the most - music festivals. Whether a one-day headliner or dozens of artists spread out over multiple weekends, music festivals have blown up in the last decade as fans crave bigger and better IRL experiences.

Having the opportunity to see multiple, best-selling artists perform in a single location for a single fee is music to fans' ears. Then, once they get onsite, they're ready to immersive themselves in the experience (and share it online for the world to see). The most poignant reason brand activations at music festivals are so successful? Fans expect it. They know they're in an isolated location controlled and managed by sponsor brands, so they're ready, willing, and able to have a positive interaction with them everywhere from the food truck line to the main stage.

As 2017's festival season kicks off, opportunities abound for brands to connect with their consumers, earn trust and "cool points", foster new relationships, and create authentic, unforgettable moments. Check out these five music festivals to keep on your radar and learn from the brands that are already seeing distinct ROI from these experiences...

1. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

kaleidoscope-walkway-pandora-jewelry-x-coachella-activation-space-5-HR.jpg To escape the desert heat, festival-goers traveled through this crystal tunnel to discover the Pandora Jewelry activation (Photo Courtesy: MultiVu)

(April 14-16 in Indio, CA) Simply dubbed Coachella, this is the place to see and be seen. The star-studded fest is filled with celebrities, music, food truck trends, sponsored parties, VIP-only lawns, sponsors and, you guessed it, brands, at the Empire Polo Club outside of Palm Springs. Facebook alone claims 1.59 billion users worldwide and Snapchat has grown to have 200 million active users and almost everyone at the festival is live on Snapchat and FacebookTo future festival goers worldwide, Coachella took on Snapchat to be the millennial platform of choice where they showcased their event to millions of people.

Top brands activating at Coachella:

  • Heineken has been a key festival sponsor for 15+ years. In 2016, they set up a Heineken House to showcase even more live performances, and lots of beer, including sets by legendary hip-hop artists Warren G, DJ Premier, Just Blaze and Too $hort
  • McDonalds is also a repeat brand onsite and this year will host the pop-up nightclub Bootsy Bellows. The party will offer food from McDonald’s All Day Breakfast menu
  • Infamous for being the festival that started the "festival" clothing trend (think lace, flower crowns, fringe, and peace signs) Coachella partnered with Pandora jewelry to help attendees and music-lovers amp up their festival style. Pandora's onsite activation is a classic booth where attendees can browse, try on jewelry, and buy keepsakes in between sets only available at Coachella

2. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival

BonnarooBangle.jpgEach year, Alex and Ani releases a Musically Inspired CHARITY BY DESIGN Collection (Photo Courtesy: Alex and Ani)

(June 8-11 in Manchester, TN) 2016 marked the 15th year of "Bonnaroooooooooooo" and attracted more than 80,000 attendees on a 700-acre farm to camp, revel, and watch some of the world’s biggest performers play extended sets for four days and nights. Although Bonnaroo releases less passes due to it's smaller location, Adweek reports that, they still reach about 5 million households, making Bonnaroo an ideal place for influencer marketing collaborations.

Top brands activating at Bonnaroo:

  • Jewelry and lifestyle brand, Alex and Ani, capitalize as an official Bonnaroo sponsor by leverging social trends surrounding the music festival, including the hashtags #Bonnaroo and #15YearsOfMagic to increase their brand awareness. The company sold musically-inspired products at the festival and launched a ticket giveaway contest. Guests that participated in the activation landscape received a metallic temporary tattoo of their choice and signed up for their news and updates
  • GNC's, "Live Loud, Live Well," activation offered festival-goers an air-conditioned space to recharge and refuel by sampling nutritional and wellness products from GNC. There were big bean bags in the center of the room, including charging stations and lounge couches and a GIF booth was set up with different backdrops and a series of poses of images that were stitched together like a flipbook

3. Ultra Music Festival

heineken_house_bar ultra.jpgThe indoor space/sensory experience featuring Heineken beer and live streaming from each stage (Photo Courtesy: Billboard) 

(March 24-26 in Miami, FL) Bayfront Park's hot spot for electronic music is just one of many locations across the globe, with additional Ultra Worldwide festivals in locations like Ibiza, Seoul, Tokyo, Croatia, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, and many other destinations. Usually dominated by fireworks and body glitter, 2017's weather put a damper on both staples thanks to torrential downpours. The rain turned out to be an incredible branding and sales opportunity for the festival itself, as attendees lined up for branded ponchos and umbrellas (priced at $5 a piece) to stick around and stay dry for the rest of the weekend's performances.

Top brands activating at Ultra:

  • With their success at Coachella, Heineken took their activation space, Heineken House, on the road to Miami, promising to be as electrifying as the music festival itself, featured unique shareable photo ops and ice cold beer. In order to bring the house to life, the guests-as-DJ arrangement puts the festival attendees in charge. They are able to control the lights, videos, etc. through interactive touch screens
  • With the expansion of its global empire, Ultra's sub-brand Resistance has been the fest's most ingenious offering. Debuting in 2015 as a single stage, it has now taken over two stages in Miami as well as a presence at Ultra's other global events. It became a standalone event last year in Peru and will travel to Ibiza for Sasha & John Digweed's residency at Privilege this summer, Ultra might eventually spin Resistance off into its own festival 

4. Lollapalooza Music Festival

samsung-gear-vr-lollapalooza2.jpgFans had the opprtunity to surf, skateboard, or even be onstage with the Samsung Gear VR experience (Photo Courtesy: VR Scout)

(March 31-April 1 in Chicago, IL) Coming up this weekend at Chicago’s Grant Park, Lollapalooza, will be attracting tens of thousands of millennials and huge brand activations. Last year was their 25th anniversary and the brand experience hit a new high. Although the attendence is outstanding, the experience is the experience at Lollapalooza.

Top brands activating at Lollapalooza:

  • Samsung's VR-Palooza, stole the show with its main stage branding and video board activation and VR experiences at the 2016 festival. Gear 360 cameras transported attendees into another dimension of rides, old-school carnival experiences, and even dropped them center stage. With more than an hour of different VR experiences per person, Samsung was one of the most active experiences outside the sets.
  • You think a roll of toilet paper would make all the difference at a music festival? It does. Cottonelle Refresh Lounge created value to their brand when they showed up with charging stations, free shades, water misters, sunscreen, hair and makeup touch-ups. Relating back to what would you do without toilet paper, they brought necessities for a music festival to the attendees. The Cottonelle team even provided free ponchos to keep you dry, so that’s kind of the point of toilet paper, right?

5. Country Music Association Music Festival

lodge_shot5.jpgCountry music fans won passes to this exclusive lodge event for intimate, up-close experiences with their favorite artists

(June 8-11 in Nahville, TN) Last but not least, country music's hometown favorite, CMA Fest, draws more than 88,500 fans that down south every sumer. Brands are digging deeper into the festival to target the loyal audience with diverse and influential experiences. According to Billboard, 42 percent of the U.S population defines themselves as country music fans - that are both loyal listeners and loyal buyers.

Top brands activating at CMA Fest:

  • In the Fan Fair X expo center, AT&T and sister brand DirecTV created a Mobilizing Your World activation manned with brand ambassadors and product specialists that offered daily athlete and artist appearances, charging stations, a GIF booth, a Chevrolet Connected Car and live DirecTV entertainment service highlights, including information on NFL Sunday Ticket. AT&T focused on the idea of “access” as a means for showing fans how the brand’s network and products provide access both on the ground at the festival and in their everyday lives
  • One of the top three activations at the CMA Fest year after year is the HGTV Lodge. After identifying a high index trend between country music fans and viewers of HGTV, the home improvement network set its sights on the CMA Festival to construct a 3,500-square-foot lodge, serving as an intimate concert venue featuring the hottest and up-and-coming country music acts. The two-story structure made of reclaimed barn wood offers air conditioning and relax and recharge areas on top of 20 intimate artist performances

Interested in taking your brand to a festival? Let us help.

Let us create one for you


Photo courtesy: Pexels 

Topics: pop culture, events, music festivals, brand experiences

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