Marketing at Coachella: How brands stake claims amid the bands

A $1 pour of Prosecco may sound like a good deal, especially at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. But what if, in exchange, you have to participate in the winemaker’s social media marketing?  

Indeed, a Cupcake Vineyards truck stationed amid this weekend’s festivities offered concert goers 2-ounce glasses of its wine for a dollar each, as long as the drinker posted on Twitter or Instagram with a certain hashtag.  

That’s just one of the many examples of creative ways brands have tried to attach themselves to the popular music event that stretches over two weekends ending Sunday.

Coachella, run by AEG’s Goldenvoice, has become an attractive destination for marketers looking for a large, young and hip audience, drawing an estimated 99,000 attendees each day this year. But the organizers have maintained a limit on overt corporate incursions. Stages still have names like Gobi and Mojave, not Budweiser and Heineken.

Nonetheless, companies have increasingly hitched their wagons to the annual event, with some setting up tents on the festival grounds with highly prized air conditioning, Wifi, phone-charging stations and, of course, ways to buy their products.

Here’s a roundup of some of the branding found at and around the festival:

The fashion brand tents: Youth-skewing clothing retailer H&M, now a regular presence at Coachella, tricked out its festival pop-up location with a psychedelic video booth, mannequins displaying its desert wear, and iPads connected to the company’s online store. Attendees seeking refuge from the heat could also refill their water bottles. Naturally, H&M and other companies have developed festival-themed clothing lines. 

Jewelry and shades: The tent for Pandora Jewelry (no, not the Internet radio company) tried to entice potential shoppers with features designed to be shared on social media, including a hallway of reflective shapes and a photo-taking mirror.

Inside the Perverse Sunglasses tent, customers spun a roulette wheel in hopes of winning free shades. Outside the tent, reps greeted music fans by spinning black-and-white umbrellas. Watchmaker Tag Heuer and electronics firm JBL had their own setups in the V.I.P. area.

The parties: Sure, the festival itself is prime real estate. But some of the most obvious branding takes place on the outskirts. Well outside the festival grounds, the likes of Levi’s jeans hosted and sponsored big parties with DJs and celebrities. Liquor maker Jagermeister got into the action at the Republic Records party, providing craft cocktails paired with food from Chris Santos. It’s supposed to be a far cry from the Jager-energy drink mixtures commonly seen at fraternity parties.

Fitness: Chances are, people going to Coachella don’t need help breaking a sweat in the late-April heat. Still, fitness brands staked out a presence during festival season, under the glare of the desert sun.

Exercise company Barry’s Bootcamp showed up on the lawn of the Saguaro Palm Springs hotel to lead workouts before hotel guests and partiers headed to the Empire Polo Club to catch the tunes. And at the Riviera Palm Springs, heated indoor cycling studio (yes, heated) Sweat Shoppe hosted morning stationary bike classes during both weekends.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
68°