The Best Experiential Marketing at Coachella 2017


best experiential marketing

“It’s pretty much the most important festival in the country. It’s one of the rare instances when all of the celebrities, influencers and other musicians are watching, and their voices are amplified through social media.”  – G-Eazy, Coachella 2016 performer

There’s no music festival that incites as much FOMO as Coachella. It doesn’t matter if you’re actively seeking out its news and images or not. Anyone online at any time during its two weekends is going to get his or her share of the music festival. From celebrities to socialites to everyday people, attendees of all kinds are eager to let us in on their experiences. What they’re doing and what they’re wearing is what those not lucky enough to be there want to know. Then there are the brand experiences. And don’t worry – companies are delivering.

Some brands are sponsoring celebrities and influencers, making them brand ambassadors. And, others are serving up experiences attendees aren’t soon to forget. No matter the means, one article best sums up marketers’ goals. “Studies have found millennials – the demographic buying up tickets to the sold-out festival – are more prone to FOMO.” So, they are “more likely to form connections to brands that allow them to share unique interactions with their envious friends at home.” In short, the right support of Coachella and its approximate 250,000 attendees can yield great ROI and return on engagement (ROE) for smart brands. This is especially true for those with the best experiential marketing activations. 

The Battle for the Best Experiential Marketing Campaign

Music festivals everywhere are stepping up to the challenge to give ticket holders an experience above and beyond the main stage. And, it’s this initiative that makes Coachella a standout among its rivals. The festival brings the best of food, drink, art and music. And, it demonstrates its commitment to sustainability in unique ways. It’s even turned recycling into an activity that earns attendees festival apparel and VIP upgrades.

This experience is what matters most to millennials. In fact, almost 75% “say they would purchase an experience rather than a product.” They find experiences “more satisfying than material purchases.” Yet, a quick Google search on Coachella 2017 results in article after article about increasing corporate sponsorship. This makes it more important than ever for brands to stand out. And, many deserve a standing ovation for their 2017 event efforts.

best experiential marketing at coachella

3 Brands with Experiential Star Power at Coachella 2017

The following three brands brought their best experiential marketing campaigns to Coachella. And, we’re sure to see their ideas pave the way for future music festivals and other activations.

1. HP delivers a cool, out-of-body experience.

In the middle of the desert, attendees sought refuge from the heat in “The Antarctic,” an 11,000 square-foot projection dome. Once inside, guests enjoyed air conditioning and cushy seating, courtesy of Coachella sponsor HP. But, that wasn’t the dome’s main attraction. It was the 360-degree audio-visual sensory experience instead.

The digital show, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope, took participants on an incredible journey in the desert. Then, they moved through space and within the human body. Variety deemed “the mind-bending experience” the “most innovative art installation at the fest.” And, it may be “a sign” of the new norm for art in the age of millennials. Yet, it wasn’t just about the art. The company put its technology to work, too.

Visitors to The Antarctic could alter the dome’s display via HP’s OMEN X gaming desktop. They could also design their own kaleidoscope, using the HP Inking Laser Show, which launched at the festival to lure students and creative art pros. These efforts were only half of the brand’s activations. But, all components let consumers get hands-on with the products and immerse in experiences sure to leave a mark.

2. H&M brings the other “cool” to the desert.

Coachella is synonymous with fashion. So, brands are capitalizing on that in the weeks leading up to the event. In fact, numbers show eight out of 10 attendees bought shoes and/or clothes pre-Coachella to complete their festival look. And, H&M is an obvious go-to.

The ever-popular fashion retailer entered its eighth year as a Coachella sponsor with the”H&M Loves Coachella” campaign. Two months before the festival’s start, it launched photos of top influencers wearing a line specific to Coachella. Then, efforts continued on-site with an interactive tent that mimicked the scene of the photo shoot. To do so, the tent featured three distinct areas – a garage, living room and patio.

Inside, visitors had access to a plethora of experiences. For example, the garage held a video booth where attendees could capture themselves on film. This room also served to reinforce H&M’s commitment to sustainability by urging guests to recycle their clothing. In the living room, they could use three backdrops for unbelievable photos, including a mountain peak and suspended clouds. As the main attraction, individuals got “the illusion of being sky high,” a photo likely to draw some attention on social media.

The experience culminated on the patio with a pop-up shop for the “H&M Loves Coachella” collection. Guests could buy items on iPads, while they charged their phones and refilled their water bottles. This gave them reason to linger with H&M a bit longer, creating more opportunities to post photos using the brand’s custom hashtag for enhanced ROE.

3. CIROC went where the cool people party.

Coachella official sponsors Absolut and Cupcake Vineyards did their best experiential marketing on-site. But, the fact is, many people come to Coachella Valley and its nearby areas, forgoing the festival and choosing to attend parties. These soirees are often by invite only, furthering the general public’s feeling of FOMO. And, it’s how other alcohol brands gain from Coachella’s popularity. One of which was premium vodka brand CIROC.

To launch its latest flavor, Summer Colada, CIROC took over the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. The weekend began with influencers getting a taste of the new beverage in summer-inspired cocktails. Then, the brand threw an exclusive pool party, hosted by R&B singer Jhene Aiko, with music by DJ Kitty Cash. This drew celebs, like Ashley Greene, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson, to the hot spot.

The brand also made sure to be present at other hot gatherings throughout the festival. This included the Revolve Festival Party, hosted by online fashion retailer, REVOLVE. AOL reported it a “star-studded party where celebrities lounged poolside, sipping on CIROC’s Summer Colada.” Famous guests included Nicole Richie and Kendall Jenner, “alongside a bevy of social media influencers and bloggers.” It’s obvious CIROC knows how to combine the power of influencers and experiential marketing, proving product sampling can go a long way.


Since 1999, EPS has helped countless brands execute experiential marketing at festivals of all kinds. From Coachella to SXSW, our field teams have demonstrated the skills and expertise to wow attendees time and again. Let EPS handle staffing so your next event is your brand’s best experiential marketing effort yet.

About Jessica Catignani

Jessica Catignani is a Nashville area-based writer with over a decade of experience penning content and copy for dozens of businesses, as well as for national publications. Her previous professional work also includes marketing, event planning and retail management. All of this combined gives her a solid foundation for research and reporting on what matters most to the clients of EventPro Strategies (EPS).

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