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Brief Published: 17 Apr 2014

Brand Experiences at Coachella 2014


The annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival held in Indio, California, continues to be an excellent platform for brands looking to raise awareness via marketing experiences and transient retail opportunities. This is thanks to its huge popularity among the largely youth-based music and style-loving fraternity (in 2013 it made $67m, making it the highest-grossing festival ever). We round up 2014’s highlights.

Sephora Beauty Studio: French beauty retailer Sephora, a primary sponsor of the event, launched Sephora Beauty Studio – a 40 sq ft lounge offering seating, phone-charging points and nine dedicated stations with products for sale and staff on hand for make-up touch-ups. The space also hosted a digital photo booth sponsored by Sephora’s new social shopping platform, Beauty Board (see Beauty Retail Trends 2014 for more), which allowed revellers to share images across social media networks.

Harpers Bazaar Mag-Tail Pop-up: Alongside its e-commerce arm Shopbazaar, US fashion and lifestyle magazine Harpers Bazaar hosted a three-day pop-up boutique at the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs (close to the festival), where poolside guests could shop a specific ShopBazaar/Coachella edit. 

Project Launch – Alexander Wang + H&M: US designer Alexander Wang and Swedish mass retailer H&M used the festival as a platform to announce their Autumn/Winter 2014 collaboration. The project was announced via an exclusive party on the Saturday night (April 12) at a venue a few miles from the festival.

Online Affirmation at Spotify: Another sponsor, music-streaming service Spotify, hosted a phone-charging and listening lounge. In addition, it offered festival-goers who synchronised their RFID (radio frequency identification)-enabled wristbands to their Spotify accounts the opportunity to ‘check-in’ all over the Coachella grounds and download free songs and curated playlists.

Post-festival, check-ins are also logged on the Spotify microsite WeWereThere.com, which builds a sharable online snapshot of an individual’s Coachella experience. Collated information includes footsteps travelled, number of artists seen and playlists collected. 

Apple iBeacon Festival Debut: Coachella has also become the first festival to deploy Apple’s iBeacon micro-location technology (see iBeacon Mobile Marketing for full details). A network of the tiny, signal-emitting beacons was placed around the site, delivering info about events and schedules directly to revellers’ phones. While this instance was organiser and not brand-led, the technology offers huge potential for brands looking to target specific audiences at future events.

Heineken Snapchat Hunt: In partnership with social photo-message service Snapchat, Danish beer brand Heineken engaged festival-goers connected to HeinekenSnapWho by "snapping" hints about the surprise musical acts playing at their Heineken House venue.

Coachella ran from April 11-13, with a second weekend to follow from April 18-20. For more brand marketing and retail opportunities at festivals and events, see Branded Festival Experiences: Nomadic Retailing from our Anywhere Retailing Industry Trend, and Art Basel Miami: Branded Spaces.