There was a time (for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just call it “the early ‘90s”) when it took no thought to sponsor a music festival. A brand could slap some banners around the stage, throw a logo on the back of a ticket, and they’re done. That was all well and good – except for the pesky fact that those sponsorships were basically ignored by everyone attending the fest.
To get noticed meant becoming part of the conversation. As music festivals evolved, so did brands’ sponsorships. There’s a lot of time between acts, and brands have begun filling that downtime with experiences that are now as essential to the fest as the band on stage.
There are lessons that can be taken from some of the most successful implementations of last year.
- Blow them away! – In many ways, music festivals have evolved beyond the music. From first time visitors to seasoned vets, festival attendees want to be given a unique experience – that they can instantly hop on social media and share with others. Give them something to brag about and share.
- Charging stations – All that Tweeting, Instagramming, and Snapchatting comes at a cost: battery drainage. If you provide the ability for people to power up their devices – especially wirelessly – you are going to get visitors.
- Giveaways – (‘natch) People love stuff. So, if you give it, they will come. But while product samples and branded tchotchkes are great, your promotion will be more successful if you can seamlessly integrate your giveaways with the event.
- Rest, relaxation, relief – Outdoor music fests all have one thing in common: weather. Inevitably, there will be times when it is too hot, humid, muggy, rainy, cold, windy; you name it. By offering an area where people can take a break from the outside conditions, you are providing an essential need and earning some valuable face time.
There were truly some great show-stopping brand experiences throughout the past year. Let’s take a look back to remember the activations that made the biggest impressions.
HP put on spectacular shows at two festivals in 2017.
At the New York City-based Panorama Music Festival, HP showcased nearly 200 products and accessories at The Lab. But this wasn’t just a typical demo and display; the products were used to power a massive series of hands-on exhibitions designed by local artists, such as:
- “Future Portrait” created by Prism, where a person’s movement was transformed into an animated film.
- “Right Passage” created by The Windmill Factory, which was a maze-like journey that began in darkness and ended in bright light.
- “Heartfelt” created by Ekene Ijeoma, where people became actual conductors of electricity by holding hands to turn on lights and play sounds.
- “The Ark Dome Show” created by Dirt Empire, inside a 90-foot dome, festivalgoers could lounge on beanbag chairs and watch a 20-minute film about a mythic journey of intergalactic survival projected on the roof’s curved surface.
The exhibit included another lounge area where visitors could utilize HP products to create a personalized bandana or engage in a kinetic art experience that utilized bullet-time photography for a once-in-a-lifetime photo experience.
HP had a significant presence at Coachella, where their display also utilized a dome. However, in the desert setting, the 11,000-square-foot facility was branded “The Antarctic”. Here visitors could take a break from the heat and enjoy air conditioning and cushy seating while viewing a kaleidoscopic film (projected on the dome) that took viewers on a journey through the desert, space, and within the human body. Yet, the experience wasn’t a passive one, visitors could change the display by using HP’s OMEN X gaming desktop.
The Coachella exhibit also had a lounge where visitors could use HP products to take a 120-degree photograph, “draw” with light, hang at a VR station, and, of course, personalize a bandana.
Photo Credit: theverge.com
In 2015, the fashion retailer H&M designed a line of clothing specifically influenced by – and intended to be worn at – Coachella. 2017 saw the release of H&M’s third round of Coachella outfits. To promote the release, H&M rolled out a series of sponsored Instagram posts featuring the surf-rock band The Atomics wearing the outfits.
Once at the event, visitors could visit an interactive “H&M Loves Coachella” tent and visit areas inspired by the scenes of the photo shoot, including a garage, living room and patio desert setting. These rooms also featured a series of activations that promoted H&M’s sustainability efforts encouraging people to recycle clothes, an infinity room highlighting conscious garments and a photo op on a simulated cloud-covered mountain peak that gave “guests the illusion of being sky high.”
Naturally, the exhibit included a pop-up shop for the “H&M Loves Coachella” collection. Purchasing an item was as easy as picking up a nearby tablet to checkout, and shoppers could charge their phones and refill water bottles while perusing the shop.
Photo Credit: Pinterest
The Heineken House has become a mainstay at Coachella, and last year was no different. There were several crowd pleasers, including:
- A sustainable dance floor that utilized the kinetic energy generated by the dancers to power LED lights on the floor.
- A water bar to encourage “smart drinking” with cups that were created to fit snuggly over the neck of a Heineken bottle.
- A Digital Art Wall where people could create custom art with stencils or use a “spray can” to enhance a photo, which could either be emailed or shared on social media.
- The service “Heineken Cold Storage” in the campgrounds, where campers could store their cold beer and then have a messenger deliver it directly to their campsites when they texted a request.
In addition, the Heineken House was equipped with a bar and offered exclusive performances, including a 360-degree show by George Clinton & The Parliament Funkadelic.
Photo Credit: energy-floors.com
Fever Tree Tonic
Across the pond at Festival No.6 (held in the Portmeirion, Wales’s location where the 1967 TV series The Prisoner was filmed), Fever Tree’s Ultimate Gin & Tonic Bar supported the event’s spirit of sustainability through a cup refund. For every cup that was returned to the pop-up bar, that person would receive £1 back.
The promotion was well received by visitors. So much so, that Fever Tree branded cups became the accessory of the weekend, and festivalgoers were seen sporting them all across the grounds.
Photo Credit: fever-tree.com
CLIF promoted its “protect the places we play” theme at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago by setting up an area co-branded with Alliance Great Lakes, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving and restoring the Great Lakes.
To encourage visitors, CLIF offered music-themed tattoos (temporary, they lasted approximately two weeks) in exchange for a $10 donation to Alliance Great Lakes. While the tattoos were applied, participants could peruse information about the Alliance or speak to someone to learn more about the organization. CLIF also matched every donation dollar for dollar.
In addition to the tattoos, CLIF provided product samples and areas for attendees to charge devices at a solar-powered station, play lawn and board games, and color Chicago artist-designed postcards at an adult coloring station. There was also a huge CLIF-branded, cassette tape installation that became a favorite photo background. In fact, one in 20 Instagram posts tagged with #PitchforkFest featured the cassette in the background.
2017 was an impressive year for brands at music festivals, which means 2018 has a lot to live up to. Are you looking to create an engaging experience for festivalgoers? The Trade Group is ready to fulfill your needs. From pop-ups to staged performances, front of the house to behind the scenes, give us a call at 800-343-2005 to see how we can convert your wildest flights of fancy into reality.