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Music festivals have become a staple in our society, attracting a diverse range of people from music junkies to fashion groupies, tech enthusiasts, and lifestyle bloggers. As a result, they have become an important platform for brands to connect with consumers.
By sponsoring a festival, brands can reach thousands of people who attend the event, as well as gain exposure through various media outlets covering the festival. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded, we will discuss five benefits of music festivals for brand sponsorships, and provide 10 yearly examples of successful brand activation over the last decade.
Music festivals have become a melting pot of various industries, attracting fashion enthusiasts, tech geeks, lifestyle bloggers, and more. As a result, these events provide a valuable platform for brands to reach a large audience through festival-goers and media coverage of the event.
Famous celebrities like Beyoncé, Kendall Jenner, Rihanna, and Paris Hilton frequently attend music festivals, attracting the attention of paparazzi and providing opportunities for brands to capitalize on the power of celebrity through sponsorships. Brands can partner with celebrities to gain exposure through exclusive photos, social media takeovers, and sponsored posts. Additionally, brands can host pre and post-festival parties to reach VIP guests.
The popularity of music festivals continues to grow, with events like Coachella selling out in a matter of hours. Beverage brands are the most active sponsors of these events, with companies like Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola leading the way. Other active categories include Retail, Food, Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Media & Publishing, Banks, Automotive, Hotel & Resort, and Technology.
Some of the top brands sponsoring music festivals include Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Heineken, MillerCoors, and Red Bull. A majority of these brands are beverages - helping cool down a hot day and provide a buzz to the activity, reflecting the popularity of beverages among festival-goers.
A study by AEG and Momentum Worldwide found that 93% of festival attendees appreciated the brands that sponsored the events, with 80% saying they were more likely to purchase a product after the festival. 37% of festival-goers also had a better overall perception of the company after the festival.
The benefits to sponsoring music festivals can be massive, and include:
Reach a large, engaged audience: Music festivals attract large crowds, providing a great opportunity for brands to reach a large, diverse, and engaged audience. With so many people in one place, it is a chance for brands to create a memorable experience for festival-goers and increase brand awareness.
Align with the festival culture: By sponsoring a festival, brands can align themselves with its culture, which can lead to a positive brand association. This can be especially beneficial for brands that cater to the festival's demographic or have similar values to the festival.
Benefit from social media buzz: Music festivals generate a lot of buzz on social media, providing an opportunity for brands to leverage this to increase their exposure. Brands can encourage festival-goers to share their experiences on social media by creating a hashtag or sponsoring influencers to attend the festival.
Increase brand loyalty: By creating a memorable experience for festival-goers, brands can increase brand loyalty. This can be especially beneficial for consumer brands, as festival-goers are more likely to purchase their products after having a positive experience with the brand at the festival.
Create content for marketing: Sponsoring a music festival provides brands with an opportunity to create content for their marketing efforts. Brands can take photos, create videos, and collect data that they can use to market their products and services in the future.
There is enough success to be had that brands who commit to spending millions every year at music festivals have it built into their core music strategy. Let's take a look at the last decade to get an idea of what I mean...
Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light House of Whatever: Bud Light created a branded activation at the 2014 Coachella festival, called the Bud Light House of Whatever. The activation included a multi-stage venue that hosted a series of concerts, as well as a VIP lounge and a beer garden.
Pepsi's Beats of the Beautiful Game: Pepsi created a branded activation at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, called the Beats of the Beautiful Game. The activation included a concert series that featured performances from some of the biggest names in music, as well as a VIP lounge and a bar that served Pepsi products.
Coca-Cola's Music Experiences: Coca-Cola has been a sponsor of music festivals for many years, creating branded activations that allow festival-goers to experience music in new and exciting ways. For example, at the 2014 Coachella festival, Coca-Cola created a series of music experiences, including a DJ booth, a karaoke stage, and a pop-up recording studio.
Heineken's Green Room: Heineken has been a sponsor of music festivals for many years, and their branded activations are always a hit with festival-goers. For example, at the 2014 Coachella festival, Heineken created a branded activation called the Green Room, which included a VIP lounge, a bar that served Heineken products, and a stage that hosted performances from some of the biggest names in music.
MillerCoors' Silent Disco: MillerCoors created a branded activation at the 2014 Coachella festival, called the Silent Disco. The activation included a dance party where festival-goers could dance to music that was
Pepsi's "Be the DJ" activation at Coachella 2015: Pepsi offered festival-goers the opportunity to be the DJ at the Pepsi stage by allowing them to choose and mix their favorite songs using an interactive touch screen. The activation was well received and helped Pepsi establish a strong brand presence at the festival.
Bacardi's "The B-Live House" at Lollapalooza 2015: Bacardi created an immersive brand experience at Lollapalooza by turning a Chicago house into "The B-Live House," a pop-up lounge that offered festival-goers a chance to relax, listen to live music and sample Bacardi's signature cocktails.
American Express' "Unstaged" series at the Governor's Ball 2015: American Express partnered with VEVO to present "Unstaged," a series of live performances by popular artists. Festival-goers could watch the performances on a large screen and interact with the artists through social media.
H&M's Coachella Style Studio: H&M created a pop-up shop in the heart of Coachella that offered festival-goers the chance to shop for festival-inspired fashion and have their photo taken in front of a green screen. The photos were then posted on H&M's social media channels, further extending the brand's reach.
Bud Light's "Up for Whatever" activation at Bonnaroo 2015: Bud Light created a fun, interactive experience for festival-goers by inviting them to participate in a variety of activities, including a karaoke stage, a giant beer pong game and a silent disco. The brand also offered free beer and created a memorable experience for festival-goers, further reinforcing its connection to music festivals.
H&M Coachella Collection: H&M released a Coachella-themed clothing line in 2016, with items ranging from crop tops and denim shorts to hats and sunglasses. The brand also hosted a VIP area at the festival, where guests could enjoy a photobooth and refreshments while shopping the collection.
Bud Light's #UpForWhatever: Bud Light partnered with Coachella in 2016 to promote their #UpForWhatever campaign, which encouraged festival-goers to embrace spontaneity and live in the moment. The brand had a large activation area, complete with a Ferris wheel and games, and also gave away limited-edition merchandise to those who shared photos using the hashtag.
PepsiCo's Beats of the Beautiful Game: PepsiCo had a large activation at Coachella in 2016, which was focused on promoting soccer as a lifestyle choice. The activation included a giant soccer ball and a mini-pitch, as well as DJs spinning music inspired by the "Beautiful Game". Festival-goers could also participate in a dance-off competition or enjoy a PepsiCo drink while hanging out in the PepsiCo area.
Red Bull's Sound Select: Red Bull partnered with Lollapalooza in 2016 to bring a series of performances by up-and-coming musicians to the festival. The Red Bull Sound Select stage was one of the most popular areas at Lollapalooza, and festival-goers could also enjoy Red Bull drinks and participate in interactive games and challenges in the Red Bull area.
Samsung's Galaxy Life Fest: Samsung had a large activation at Lollapalooza in 2016, focused on promoting their latest smartphone, the Galaxy S7. Festival-goers could try out the phone in a 360-degree virtual reality experience, take photos in a Galaxy-themed photo booth, or participate in a "Galaxy Life Fest" dance competition. Samsung also had a VIP lounge where guests could charge their phones, relax and enjoy refreshments.
Heineken's "The Bar" at Coachella 2017: Heineken created a pop-up bar called "The Bar" that served as a hangout spot for festival-goers at Coachella in 2017. The bar featured interactive games, activities, and a lineup of musical performances. Heineken also offered branded merchandise and provided a platform for customers to share their festival experiences on social media using the hashtag #HeinekenCoachella.
Samsung's Galaxy Life Festival at Lollapalooza 2017: Samsung created the Galaxy Life Festival, a three-day event within Lollapalooza that offered festival-goers the opportunity to experience new Samsung products and participate in a variety of interactive activations. This included virtual reality experiences, a Snapchat filter photo booth, and live performances by popular artists.
Bacardi's "The Oasis" at Bonnaroo 2017: Bacardi created "The Oasis," a tropical-themed activation that served as a relaxation and refreshment destination for festival-goers at Bonnaroo in 2017. The activation offered free Bacardi cocktails, live music performances, interactive games, and opportunities for festival-goers to connect with the Bacardi brand and share their experiences on social media.
Pepsi's "The Hydration Station" at Outside Lands 2017: Pepsi created "The Hydration Station" at Outside Lands in 2017, a branded activation that offered festival-goers a place to recharge and refresh with Pepsi products. The activation also featured games, contests, and other interactive experiences that allowed festival-goers to connect with the Pepsi brand.
American Express' "Platinum House" at Austin City Limits 2017: American Express created the "Platinum House" at Austin City Limits in 2017, a luxurious lounge area that was exclusively available to Platinum Card Members. The activation offered a variety of amenities, including a VIP bar, premium food and beverage options, and private performances by popular musicians. The Platinum House served as a way for American Express to showcase the benefits of its Platinum Card, as well as connect with festival-goers and enhance their festival experience.
Toyota sponsored the Summerfest Music Festival in Milwaukee, where they provided a test drive experience with their new cars and interactive games like a “spot the difference” competition.
At Outside Lands, Google created an immersive virtual reality experience using its Daydream View glasses that allowed attendees to explore a 360-degree fantasy world.
Dunkin’ Donuts hosted a “coffee break station” at Lollapalooza, where guests could get free samples of their goodies while enjoying live music performances.
Netflix brought its biggest original series to Life Is Beautiful Festival by hosting a Stranger Things inspired activation complete with an upside down living room, life-size Demogorgons, and Hawkins Middle-School lockers stocked with snacks and swag from the show.
Samsung sponsored Firefly Music Festival and set up several technology interactive displays including an Augmented Reality Escape Room and Virtual Reality Flight Simulator for festival-goers to enjoy.
Bud Light's "House of Whatever" at Coachella: Bud Light transformed a tent into a "House of Whatever" where festivalgoers could dance, relax on colorful furniture, and play giant games.
Absolut Vodka's "Absolut Nights" at Lollapalooza: Absolut Vodka created a VIP area called "Absolut Nights," which featured craft cocktails, a photo booth, and a VIP lounge area.
H&M's "Fashion Passport" at Afropunk: H&M provided festivalgoers with a "Fashion Passport" that encouraged them to explore different parts of the festival, including a pop-up shop and an interactive mural.
Red Bull's "Campsite" at Bonnaroo: Red Bull created a "Campsite" where festivalgoers could recharge their batteries, watch live performances, and participate in games and activities.
Heineken's "The Heineken House" at Tomorrowland: Heineken transformed a space into "The Heineken House," where festivalgoers could enjoy drinks and relax while experiencing cutting-edge technology and design.
Budweiser's "Made In America" festival activation: Budweiser sponsored Jay-Z's annual music festival in Philadelphia and created a branded area where festival-goers could sample their products and participate in interactive games.
Jack Daniel's Whiskey Row at Bonnaroo: Jack Daniel's created a branded whiskey lounge at Bonnaroo where attendees could sample their products and participate in whiskey-themed activities.
Coca-Cola Music Experience: Coca-Cola partnered with a number of music festivals, including Lollapalooza, to create branded areas where festival-goers could try their products, recharge their phones, and participate in interactive games and activities.
Smirnoff's "Equalizing Music" campaign: Smirnoff launched a campaign aimed at promoting equality in the music industry and hosted activations at several music festivals, including Coachella and Lollapalooza, where festival-goers could learn about the campaign and participate in interactive experiences.
H&M's "Festival Edit" pop-up shop: H&M set up a branded pop-up shop at a number of music festivals, including Glastonbury, where festival-goers could shop for festival-themed clothing and accessories. The pop-up shop also included photo opportunities and interactive experiences for festival-goers.
Budweiser teamed up with Coachella to create the Budweiser #ChellaXO activation to promote their products and create an immersive experience for festival-goers.
Kia Motors partnered with Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival to offer free rides in their cars, as well as a lounge where attendees could recharge their phones and take a break from the sun.
At Stagecoach Country Music Festival, Target created a “shopping village”, complete with a ferris wheel, live concerts, and pop-up shops featuring limited edition merchandise from designer brands like Lilly Pulitzer.
During Lollapalooza 2019, Citi hosted an exclusive VIP lounge for cardholders, equipped with air-conditioning, massages, manicures and other relaxing activities.
Apple removed all product branding from its activation at Outside Lands this year and instead focused on sharing local artists' stories in its interactive art exhibit titled "The Cultivated Wild."
Not the best year for music festivals. I wonder why.... but before the world stopped -there were some festivals!
The music festival experience was ALMOST back but still curtailed due to heavy investments and high risks of cancellation due to Covid protocols and surges.
It's happening! Music festivals are officially BACK on the radar and in full swing with lots of brand excitement.
To learn more about music partnerships in brand marketing, check out a few other blogs we have on the topic...
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Topics: Event Activations, Music