By Lori Richter
The summer music festival season kicked off in style, as thousands of people from all over the world (most notably Los Angeles) escaped to Indio, California in their booties and fringe for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. As I mentioned last year, “While the economy might not be booming, music festivals are selling out faster and faster each year…and companies have certainly taken notice by finding ways to leverage this convergence of music, fashion and technology and drive awareness for their brand.” This year, for the first time in its thirteen-year history, Coachella was extended into a two consecutive weekend extravaganza due to the high demand for tickets. Despite the exponential increase in audience capacity, three-day passes for both weekends sold out in just a few hours – cha-ching for festival producer Goldenvoice.
The biggest news coming out of the dual weekend experience was Tupac’s virtual resurrection, which took on a life of its own during Dre and Snoop’s headlining performance (coverage later evolved to focus on the hologram technology and taking it mainstream with bands like TLC considering “a similar spectacle,” as reported by New York Daily News). Opening weekend held the most appeal, as it brought a sense of authenticity and spontaneity that was essential for media covering the event and brands hosting parties throughout the festival. Despite the cooler weather, numerous pool parties and evening gatherings took place during weekend one – a product of brand partnerships primarily among fashion, magazine, technology and adult beverage companies. Photo booths and VIP gifting suites were a must-have for the “who’s who,” and those that want to be, as well as food trucks, pop-up shops, phone charging stations and live performances, especially by Rye Rye who was all over the Coachella party scene. A few key events include:
While most notable and reported on, the party scene wasn’t the only way for brands to connect with influential consumer audiences during Coachella. Leveraging popular social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in concert with on-site activations, proved to be a popular choice for some well-known consumer brands. According to Fortune, event sponsors are “going beyond passing out free swag with company logos” and “are using the crowds and social media traffic to experiment with new types of brand advertising.” Companies such as H&M, Sony PlayStation, Hyundai, Beats By Dr Dre and Heineken each hosted on-site activations, many of which started with a targeted social campaign to drive excitement around the festival. (Similarly, musicians are “…using social media to build massive followings and reach audiences that would have been impossible 5 years ago,” said Marc Ruxin of Huffington Post). Needless to say, social media was a key component to brand activations, breaking news and a checklist of things to see at Coachella – even the photo booths now have direct links to Twitter!
H&M had perhaps the most engaging presence – in honor of its Fashion Against AIDS collection, they provided attendees with a comfortable setting for enjoying free water, freshening up with Kiehl’s products or lounging around on water-filled couches under a giant disco ball. The space included a full photo “kissing booth,” and H&M sweetened the deal by donating $1 to AIDS research for every person who posted a kissy pic on Foursquare, Twitter or Instagram using the #KissForACause and #HMUSA hashtag. Hyundai’s RE:GENERATION Lounge was also a popular hang-out amongst festival-goers, with a Veloster (car) doubling as a DJ booth among multiple recharging stations and free Wi-Fi. There were also a number of guest appearances, including Porter Robinson, Datsik and Destructo, who each stopped by for autographs and pictures.
Emerging fashion trends and celebrity sightings are two of the biggest draws of Coachella. Both fans and the general public alike seem to be just as excited to check out what the fashionistas and trend setters have donned for the festival as they are to spot their favorite Hollywood stars or see their beloved bands perform. Like moths to light, photographers flood the Empire Polo Fields tracking down stylish looks and familiar faces to capture for fashion recaps that span across multiple media outlets, from New York Magazine to Harper’s Bazaar. With weekend one’s dreary weather, there was an increased cross-section of fashion choices – colored jeans, oversized printed sweaters, felt hats and rain boots seemed to be the go-to choice for attendees. However, the rest of the weekend brought out the more traditional hippie-esque maxi skirts, cut-off jean shorts and caftans. According to WWD, “Longer printed dresses, high-waisted shorts, leather looks and high-low skirts were among the freshest trends on the field.” Of course, there were also a number of celebrities roaming the festival, showcasing some of the latest fashion trends, including Paris Hilton, Usher, Lauren Conrad, Lea Michele, Kellan Lutz, Katy Perry, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kate Bosworth, Dylan McDermott, Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Gerard Butler and Fergie, among others.
Looking forward to seeing what Coachella 2013 brings…