Friday, 22 April 2016

Numbers Don't Lie: Have Big Brands Pushed Coachella To A Breaking Point?

Since its inaugural year in 1999, Coachella has steadily evolved to become a celebrated cultural landmark for music lovers across the country.

For two consecutive weekends, over a half-million fans flood the Empire Polo Club in Indio, reflecting a richly diverse crowd of enthusiastic fans anxious to watch their favorite artists perform on the biggest outdoor stages.

Attracting a multigenerational audience, the three-day festival boasts a decorated roster of living legends, current superstars and and emerging acts showcasing their talents and winning new followers. With a loaded lineup that includes main stage sets from artists like Guns-N-Roses, Ice Cube, Sia, LCD Soundsystem and Calvin Harris, Coachella organically connects different cultures and genres through the power of music.

Fueled by great acts and a free-spirited atmosphere, Coachella stands as the world’s highest-grossing festival, quickly selling out of tickets and breaking attendance records each year. Produced by Goldenvoice, a division of AEG, ticket sales for the this year’s festival have generated upward of $90 million, resulting from increased ticket pricing and experience packages. In 2015, Billboard reported that the festival ran out of tickets 11 months in advance before announcing the lineup, grossing a staggering $84.2 million dollars from direct sales. In 2014, Coachella reportedly attracted 579,000 attendees, and tallied over $78 million in ticket sales; reaching an average of over 32 million spectators annually across all mediums.

Luring a prime demographic of engaged young people, the massive festival also serves as an open playground for big brands to execute elaborate digital and on-site activations. From sponsored parties, shuttles and living quarters, to branded booths and pop up shops — major corporations have found every angle to integrate their brand into the mix. With nearly half of Coachella attendees falling within the 18-34 age range, festival goers roam the desert facing the full spectrum of brand experiences — from smart and subtle, to obvious and intrusive.

But, when you examine the demographic and environment, what else should big brands be thinking? Millennials control more than $100 billion in annual spending, with a global spending power that surpassed $2.45 trillion in 2015. In addition to being the most diverse consumer segment, millennials are also mobile-obsessive and the most active users of social media. Beyond concerts and events, their appetite for entertainment has also increased exponentially with the rise of short-form videos, mobile apps and second-screen OTT platforms such as Apple TV and Amazon Prime. This convergence of entertainment, technology and culture makes Coachella and other large festivals alike the perfect place for brands to explore, experiment and attempt to become an active aspect of the consumer’s everyday journey.

Some of Coachella’s official 2016 partners include Absolut, American Express, Heineken, H&M , Sirius XM Radio SIRI, New Era and T-Mobile . Aside from its official partners, Coachella is also known for a growing list of annual events presented by several of the biggest brands in the fashion, music and lifestyle spaces. In 2015, American Express became Coachella’s first official credit card, a multi-year partnership that allows the company to provide exclusive experiential packages for cardmembers such as weekend passes, hospitality access and curated programming. The deal brought an end to Coachella’s 16-year history of only allowing attendees to use cash on the grounds.

This year, American Express rolled out a mobile experience that offered members an assortment of surprises and rewards for registering through the official Coachella app. “This is our second year, and our activations are getting bigger and better,” stated Walter Frye, VP of Global Experiential Marketing and Entertainment Partnerships for American Express. “We’ve really been able to leverage digital and tap into the mass scale of Coachella’s app audience to enhance the festival experience for music fans in a more natural way.”


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