Digital Marketing Redux   //   April 1, 2024

How brands are planning for festival season with Coachella and Stagecoach activations

It’s music festival season and brands want in on the action. 

This year, many emerging brands plan to set up shop at festivals across the country, from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to Stagecoach to Rolling Loud. Coachella, which averages 125,000 daily attendees, is one of the most popular events for sponsorship opportunities. Fashion brands like Free People, H&M and Forever 21 also do tie-ins by launching a curated collection of festival-ready attire, many of which are already live on their websites.

April in particular will be a big month for many of these activations. This year, Coachella takes place over the weekends of April 12 and April 21 in Indio, California. Then, on the weekend of April 26, Stagecoach takes place on the same grounds.

Western wear brand Tecovas is one of the brands that will be doing a Stagecoach sponsorship. Tecovas, which is known for cowboy boots, is setting up a boot bar alongside commissioned art. According to the brand, Tecovas will be the “first-ever official boot partner with Stagecoach.”

Tecovas also has a Stagecoach sweepstake running currently, with the winner receiving two general admission passes, two pairs of boots and $2,000 toward travel and accommodations.

Robyn Wedgeworth, senior director of partnerships at Tecovas, told Modern Retail that festivals like Stagecoach are a big part of the brand’s upper-funnel marketing strategy this year. People are already taking their Tecovas to festivals, she said, “So there is a big sales opportunity, and we are eager to connect with them as they get festival ready and onsite at the festival grounds.” 

Some of the artists performing at Stagecoach are also affiliated with the brand, as either influencer or ambassador partners. “We are giving artists boots, so we hope to see boots on the feet of many of the musicians.”

Personalization will be the focus, Wedgeworth said. Tecovas offers complimentary beverages, koozies and free boot shines as part of its in-store services. Visitors can purchase boots on-site or customize their Tecovas items with branding and embellishments. The Stagecoach activation comes as Tecovas is planning to open its first store in the Northeast and two in California, among other locations. 

Wedgeworth said Stagecoach presents Tecovas with an opportunity to meet potential customers from around the country. “Success for us looks like omnichannel traffic growth, customer acquisition, social following growth, and hopefully conversion,” she said.

Festival grounds are also prime real estate for beverage brands, who want to keep attendees hydrated between sets. One beverage company that’s been building its festival presence is hydration brand Liquid I.V., which is co-sponsoring the Neon Carnival along with PatrĂ³n tequila and Levi’s. Liquid I.V. has helped sponsor Neon for the past few years, and this event will feature two new Liquid I.V. flavors for guests to taste.

Iced tea brand Saint James has had a Coachella presence since April 2022, when the brand debuted with a celebration at the Soho Desert House.

Along with out-of-home billboards and rideshare vehicle ads, this year Saint James is returning to Coachella with several events and lounges. The brand is the exclusive tea sponsor of fashion company Guess’s branded housing, supplying the accommodation with gift bags and branded slushie machines in each house. Saint James will host other samplings around the property.

Saint James is also sponsoring several events and lounge areas during the second weekend. These include a pool party and gifting suite in collaboration with True Religion and The Palm Tree Crew Golf Classic with guest DJ Kygo. Saint James will also be the official iced tea partner for Stagecoach this year.

Saint James CEO Brad Neumann said the company’s strategy “from day one has always been to over-invest in branding and experiential marketing first, knowing that distribution will come — which is why we launched at Coachella.”

Neumann said that the company’s event sponsorships approach is focused on driving awareness back to its retail distribution. In this case, Southern California is a major market for the company, as the brand sells at regional retailers like Vons and Erewhon. “We’re not going to sponsor or support an event unless we have a direct call to action with a retailer,” Neumann said. “Every time we’re activating or have one of these events, you’re going to know the closest retailers where we sell our products and get a coupon to tie it all together.”

Neumann said the way that Saint James tries to measure the success of these activations depends on the type of sponsorship. For example, at Stagecoach, the brand will be sold at every concession stand throughout the weekend. As such, the brand will track ROI in terms of net sales from products sold, plus what impressions and per-cap samples it was able to achieve through the activations.

But, as these events become increasingly crowded with sponsored lounges, brands find that it takes more unique partnerships to stand out.

For example, in the last couple of years, Gopuff has been installing micro-fulfillment centers at music festivals like Electric Daisy and Rolling Loud in partnership with Live Nation. According to the company, festival-goers order last-minute supplies like ice, snacks and exclusive merch.

Remedy Place, known for its wellness centers, has been making the festival rounds for a few years, at events ranging from Festival de Cannes to Art Basel. Among a sea of branded pop-ups and sponsorships, founder and CEO Jonathan Leary said the company’s activations usually “stand out at these events because they’re different.”

Remedy Place usually hosts wellness-focused day parties, which include things like IV injection lounges, sound bath meditations and ice bath classes. Leary said that Remedy Place’s 2022 activation was attended by 1,000 guests, and even had longer lines than the bars.

“People crave new experiences that make them feel good and don’t take away from what they want to do socially… It’s a win-win,” Leary said.