Trending: Brand Activations at Coachella

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Savvy marketers know that an up-to-the-minute way of reaching millennials is Coachella.  The annual weekends have become the place to launch new brands and to bolster the visibility of existing ones through Influencer Marketing.  Major brands including American Express, Heineken, and Sephora were among the sponsors of the 2018 event, where they sought to make inroads with millennials .  Other brands, including Victoria’s Secret, Lucky, and Maybelline, created their own pop-up events on the periphery, where they were able to take advantage of the crowds, but in more intimate spaces.

Consumers have come to expect events to be bigger and edgier than traditional launches, and the Coachella crowds would suggest they are getting them.  It used to be free drinks and snacks, but brands such as Revolve are taking it to the next level with events at major music festivals.

Which begs the question:  in a non-traditional setting, how does a marketer track ROI?  The short answer:  Instagram.  The platform’s data is a good indicator not only of which events and launchers were effective and memorable, but which products created a buzz.  Meanwhile, some marketers are exploring either competing events or their own, stand-alone events.  While Coachella remains the touchstone, some bands such as Revolve are demonstrating their own ability to generate buzz.

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Revolve’s success in generating posts and a healthy quota of likes was propelled in part by their partnership with such influencers as Claudia Sulewski, Jasmine Sanders, and Billboard.  Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, seemed to count on spontaneous posts from event-goers rather than partnerships with advertisers.  The lesson learned is that, while Revolve’s approach required the outlay of cash, the ROI was substantial.

Marketers are also catching on to the idea that providing good photo ops leads to more posts and more shares.  At their Winter Bumbleland, Bumble provided giant bee wings where revelers could pose, creating a fun and memorable shot.  Juicy Couture provided a vintage convertible.  Both venues generated an abundance of Instagram photos.  It’s a strong lesson for brands with smaller marketing budgets.  Great photo ops engender social sharing that creates buzz. 

Other brands, like Lucky, look for an original giveaway.  Tee shirts are so last year.  Lucky opted for souvenir bandanas, with stations set up where attendees could have them custom-embroidered.  Not only was the gift outside the traditional box, a bandana was also useful at the dusty Coachella venue.

Budgets will always be a critical factor in determining what brands can and should expect from Coachella and other events.  Determine if Coachella is right for you, or if you would have more impact at a stand-alone event.  Choose giveaways thoughtfully.  If your budget extends to involving influencers, create a carefully curated list of which influencers have followers appropriate to your brand.  Don’t underestimate the value of Instagram.  Follow your influencers carefully on the platform to see whose posts are effective.

There is no guaranteed way to track ROI at these events, but social media platforms will at least give you a indication.