Coachella -- an annual arts and music festival set in the desert of Indio, Southern California -- has grown into an event that is more than just music. Coachella, and festivals like it, have become can’t-miss event hotspots for fashion influencers, trendsetters, and beloved brands. The fashion of the festival has become a style category in its own right.
Events like this offer amazing opportunities for marketers. Coachella draws nearly 100,000 attendees per day during the six-day festival, and the crowd is made up largely of millennials with money to spend. In addition to the audience that’s on-site, there’s also an enormous community of fans who want to follow events, trends, and fashion via social media. A recent survey by Momentum Worldwide found that 80% of respondents (the majority of whom were Millennials) claimed branded festivals were the best way to engage with them.
That being said, it can be expensive to become an official sponsor. On-site brand partnerships can set a business back hundreds of thousands of dollars, and once inside, it can be difficult to stand out amongst the other extravagant sponsored experiences. Because of this, many companies opt for another approach, known as Ambush Marketing.
Festival Ambush Marketing
Ambush marketing is a way for creative-thinking brands to circumvent the rules and save on costs associated with official festival partnerships. It can be done through hosting unaffiliated events -- like pool parties, lunches, and workouts -- off-site, but nearby the festival.
While a festival partnership may not be open to everyone, the digital world offers infinite affiliated content opportunity. Brands can unofficially associate with Coachella by partnering with social media influencers, who can be their ticket to reaching millions.
Whether the ambush marketing technique is sponsoring an influencer or putting on an off-site party, all methods serve the same purpose -- create hype around their brand, generate attention on social media, and engage consumers both at the event and beyond. Here we’ll share some tried-and-true methods fashion brands have used to stand out at Coachella.
Some fashion brands have chosen to go for a product-focused approach by launching festival-themed collections around the start of the event. Highlighting festival fashion within your brand can create an experience for the consumer, whether they’re attending, or they wish to emulate the envied experience.
Alice + Olivia Capsule Collection
For example, prior to this last year’s Coachella experience, Alice + Olivia launched a Grateful Dead-inspired collection and runway show that festival goers (and those following on social media) could purchase before the event. Their hyped up pre-show exposed their brand to over 14 million users in two days. This allowed Alice + Olivia to capitalize on precious social media attention surrounding the event without actually partaking in it.
BooHoo Sponsored Fashion
Brands can also sponsor particular influencers’ festival wardrobes. Partnerships such as this can include social media obligations on the part of sponsored brand ambassador, which can give companies more control over how many people will be reached by their campaign. In 2016, fashion retailer BooHoo paired with the YouTube Influencer, Amanda Steele, who has over 3 million subscribers. Steele created a Coachella Inspired Lookbook of BooHoo fashion, which got their name, and their association with can’t-miss-Coachella-event, in front of millions of consumers. All this and they didn’t even have to attend.
Brands who don’t want to pay the price and work to stand out inside the festival gates, often opt to host festival-related events, parties, and brunches nearby. These events are often packed with influencers, celebrities, and trendsetters and paired with plenty of social media activity.
Furla’s Influencer Brunch
Another example of branded off-site events includes this year’s Prosecco Brunch sponsored by the fashionable bag brand, Furla. They engaged in a paid partnership with fashion influencer Caroline Daur and also gave (or traded) handbags out to other high-profile style influencers.
Lacoste’s Annual Pool Party
Lacoste has made a name for itself with its four-year running Lacoste Live Pool Party, held at a private estate outside the official festival grounds. This two-day branded event is an oasis of fun activities, food, drinks, pop-up shops, art installations, and of course, plenty of opportunities and encouragement to share the experience on social media. They even included a flower crown station where guests could pick up a floral fashion piece in exchange for posting about it on social media.
ASICS Coachella Hike
ASICS saw an opportunity here and filled it with their hyped up, pre-festival workout offering. Last year, ASICS offered a casual morning hike along the Tahquitz Canyon Trail in partnership with Palm Spring’s Cobra Fitness Club. ASICS, of course, invited targeted influencers to join in on the fun, and those who did were supplied with some of the brand’s workout gear. The branded hike allowed ASICS to associate themselves with Coachella weekend, and the Tahquitz Canyon Trail lent plenty of opportunity for social media chatter and sharing.
Another purveyor of the Coachella fitness experience is Barry’s Bootcamp, an LA-based boutique fitness brand. They’ve been bringing their branded fitness experience to the festival with pop-up workouts and complimentary morning exercise classes held at different resorts and hotels. The brand also gives participants a free festival survival kit.
Barry’s Bootcamp also takes advantage of the weeks leading up to the festival, by focusing on the fact that the desert style usually involves outfits that don’t leave much to the imagination. Women and men are encouraged to bare more of their bodies, and oftentimes men can find themselves going shirtless in the heat. Fitness and health is definitely a concern for many attendees, and Barry’s Bootcamp capitalizes on this by encouraging followers to get their pre-festival workout fix and “help tone what you already have and maximize your potential for the weekend.”
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