After a two-year hiatus, Coachella 2022 has successfully returned.
America’s most popular music festival provided a glimpse into the future of live events and experience marketing. This year, the much-anticipated event redeemed itself with even more immersive and unforgettable experiences. The Indio music festival kicked off live music festivals across the nation. It did not disappoint with this year’s unique line-up of bands, artists, food, and most importantly, their fashionable experiential installations.
After all, the festival has a history of living up to its reputation as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where you can expect to see some of the most eccentric pieces of art, carefully curated brand activations, and examples of experience marketing available. A long list of brands partnered with Coachella this year for their chance to showcase their desert festival-themed brand activations. As FGPG recaps this year’s festival, discover the fine details and production that was created to enhance the event’s experience through the execution of experiential marketing. From Architensions and Balloon Chain to NFT art displays and YouTube’s Artist Lounge. We walk you through Coachella’s experience from the lens of experiential marketing.
Explore the best brand activation productions that blew festival-goers away and have set the tone for live events in 2022.
Brand Activations & Installations
Spotify’s Desert Kickback
Spotify organized and led two brand activations at Zenaya Estate over Coachella weekend: an album release for Swedish House Mafia, and a daytime retreat on Saturday. Spotify’s head of experiential marketing, Sara Waldman, mentioned that the teams worked overnight to transition between the two events. Waldman described Saturday’s “Desert Kickback” event as “resort chic” and “beach-inspired,” with DJ performances from SG Lewis, Channel Tres and Kitty Ca$h.
Waldman shared that the Light wood grain textures and florals were added throughout, and the bar transformed into a wellness bar offering fresh juices and branded coconut water. To help combat the heat, they had a refresh station filled with sunscreen, portable chargers and eucalyptus water-soaked towels. Innovative and resourceful is how the Spotify brand activation was perceived.
HBO Max‘s ‘The Flight Attendant’ Preflight Lounge
HBO Max made its Coachella debut with their exclusive Flight Attendant Preflight Lounge, which took place at the Ace Hotel over Coachella weekend. The invite-only live experience offered self-care treatments and a private screening of season two of the hit show. The lounge had airport-themed decor from producers MKG and included a mini “people-mover” photo op depicted above. The wide array of details and work with this activation showcased a memorable experience in an event full of creative installations.
HP’s Antarctic Dome
HP hosted its famous Antarctic Dome — a 360-degree audiovisual experience housed inside a geodesic projection dome. This year, the brand embraced the Metaverse by launching its first NFT in the space. Composed to celebrate digital and virtual art, the short film, Regen, was scored by ODESZA and created by nine digital artists using HP PCs with powerful graphics and processing performance. This experiential experience is on the rise as the Metaverse continues to be integrated with the live and hybrid event industry.
Lastly, an HP-inspired lounge also provided festival attendees with an area for leisure with comfortable seating, free WiFi, and demos of HP products.
YouTube’s Artist Lounge
YouTube’s head of fashion and beauty, Derek Blasberg, captured “Shorts” video content and engaged in exclusive, one-on-one interviews with artists and creators to talk Coachella fashion, beauty trends and more. They indulge in an experiential lounge filled with carefully designed pieces of art and installations to showcase YouTube’s version of their desert festival theme.
Six creators—Benoftheweek, Kaiti Yoo, Kirsten Titus, Larray, Lauren Giraldo and Quenlin Blackwell—“lived” at the YouTube Shorts Compound, where they captured their festival experience on their respective YouTube channels. MAS handled production for YouTube’s spaces.
Ray Ban’s Stories’ Coachella Sensorium Experience
For their festival grounds brand activation, Ray-Ban Stories—the brand’s new limited-edition collection of smart glasses, created in collaboration with Meta—partnered with design studio VTProDesign to create the Coachella Sensorium Experience. Built inside a modest white slat-wall structure, the activation guests to put on a pair of Ray-Ban Stories and immerse themselves in a multisensory experience. The experience also featured a reactive tunnel, an immersive lightroom photo op, an after-party lounge and a Coachella-inspired soundtrack. VTProDesign oversaw the design and production of this cognitive production.
Don Julio, Direct TV, Smirnoff – Neon Carnival
One of the weekend’s most anticipated activation parties is Brent Bolthouse’s Neon Carnival, hosted by Tequila Don Julio and produced by Best Events, which hosted its 11th event. Returning to its permanent home located at the Desert International Horse Park, the 8,000-attendee event featured carnival-style games, amusement park rides, and sets from world-renowned DJs. Don Julio’s neon-themed installation featured a series of vibrant colors and carefully curated designs that fit the aura of the carnival theme.
Another Neon Carnival awaited favorite was DIRECTV, the activation drew attention during the event with five unique activations. VIP festival-goers could start their evening by visiting DIRECTV’s Neon Oasis, a jungle-themed and branded lounge, before traveling to the carnival ground through DIRECTV’s futuristic Portal (pictured). Other experiences included a branded zipper ride and an additional VIP lounge. The most memorable throughout the night was the brand’s Geodome illuminated the sky with immersive projection mapping.
Smirnoff’s activation, at the Neon Carnival, was a 25-by-25-foot custom-fabricated space. Produced by NVE Experience Agency with fabrication partner Tractor Vision and photobooth partner Hypno, the activation focused on Smirnoff’s Neon Lemonades Seltzers and ICE products. Full of spring themed colors and neon lights to fit the scene, the brand stood out with its unique design and detailed installation
The live and on-site activation was a pleasant bar-based activation that mirrored the central bar in the metaverse component, allowing live and virtual attendees to interact in real-time.
MKG served as the lead creative agency for the in-person activation, while Pink Sparrow handled fabrication. Atwater handled graphics, Stories Illuminated handled lighting design, and AV and Dazian managed pipe and drape
Absolut, the official vodka of Coachella for ten years running, stayed consistent with the latest Metaverse trends by blending their virtual and live activations. The brand created Absolut. The land consisted of an appealing, festival-based activation and an innovative virtual edition in the Metaverse for the digital festival-goers that are in tune with the next generation of experiential marketing.
Available to fans worldwide, the colorful virtual world featured unique content centered around Absolut’s products and digital art. Fans could consume the space with avatars while enjoying an anti gravity dance floor and virtual mosh pit. A museum gallery showcasing Absolut artwork, a garden where they could discover collectives, a selfie room, a Pride tunnel paying homage to Absolut’s support of the LGBTQ community, and a rainbow-themed dance party and much more. The metaverse experience creation was by United Entertainment Group and Young Hero. Banquet Labs assisted with metaverse strategy, and Parcel Party served as lead developer.
As we wrapped up the Coachella Festival to make way for Stagecoach, we are left with a collection of memorable installations and designs. We reflect on this year’s Coachella experience and recognize the amount of confined demand there has been from consumers for immersive music festivals. We embraced virtual events as a temporary alternative to live events and provided an escape while most were abiding by stay-at-home regulations; ultimately, nothing beats a live experience. The tone has been set, as the latest designs and productions will serve as a prime example of what the rest of 2022 will look like for experiential marketing. From the most significant brand activations to immersive art experiences, it is safe to say that the future of live events looks bright as we carry on post-pandemic.