How to Select the Right Festival Activation Platform for your Brand

No question about it—large-scale music festivals have become one of the most valuable activation platforms in the industry. There’s one for nearly every genre of music you can think of, and several new ones are on the horizon for 2018. When it comes to determining which of these festival platforms best aligns with your company, however, it can be a daunting endeavor. But fret not—here’s a look at how to choose a music festival activation that strikes a chord with your brand and the target you’re after.


Want to show off your tech chops to a digitally savvy audience? The Panorama Music Festival in New York City might be just the ticket for your brand. It’s the platform HP opted for this year, activating two trippy tech experiences, The Lab and the HP Lounge, that leveraged HP technology to showcase the brand’s experiential principles of “creating,” “reinventing” and “sharing.” Inside The Lab, attendees could engage with nearly 200 HP products and accessories that powered exhibitions developed by local artists. The HP Lounge offered a multi sensory chill space where around 50 HP products fueled festival-friendly engagements like a bandana inking station. Branding was kept to a minimum in both spaces, but with touchpoints that included 360-degree projection mapping and a kinetic art experience featuring bullet-type photography, there’s no doubt HP boosted its brand awareness among the tech savvy crowd.


Fashion-forward brands, take note. Whether you’re an apparel company or simply after a stylish target, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is where it’s at. The event has become a breeding ground for fashion houses, lifestyle brands and beauty companies, who offer experiences ranging from posh brunches and upscale pool parties to style bars and refresh lounges. Truth be told, Coachella has become more about pampering floppy hat-clad attendees than the music performances themselves, so if you’re targeting diehard music fans, this platform may not be ideal for your brand.


On the other end of the spectrum, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival attracts a laid-back, environmentally friendly audience that spends four days camping out on “the Farm” as it’s lovingly referred to by attendees. It’s a scorching hot, gritty-in-a-good-way experience that music fans, particularly the environmentally conscious millennial demo, flock to year after year. What’s more, the sense of community at Bonnaroo is palpable, so brands would do well to implement group-based experiences that cater to the event’s communal vibe. Add in a sustainability element and you’ve got a recipe for Bonnaroo success.


Of course you can’t talk about festival activation platforms without mentioning the electronic dance music scene. EDM shows have popped up all over the country over the last few years, offering lively multisensory experiences for a rabid fan base. Festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas are attracting Gen Z in droves, and sponsors are lining up to engage with the adventurous, digitally native demo. But these events are not for the feint of heart. The parties last until sunrise, the drugs flow freely and the music blares day and night. As a result, progressive, high-energy brands tend to thrive in this space, while more conservative companies are likely to find success with a more traditional festival platform.


If you’re looking to engage the next generation of country music fans, the Stagecoach Festival should definitely be on your radar. The event strategically places a mix of popular and up-and-coming artists on its roster, most recently attracting talent that strays from the pop country sound and instead offers a raw, unapologetic take on the traditional country genre. What does that say about attendees and the brands who seek to connect with them? An open-minded, go-with-the-flow attitude is key. Stagecoach festival goers aren’t the stereotypical beer can-crushing country music fan of the past. These attendees are a more sophisticated breed, meaning they’ll see right through gimmicky marketing ploys. Instead, brands need to offer experiences with real substance to make an impact.


Bottom line is, brands need a thorough understanding of their target in order to find the festival activation platform that will work best for them. From first-year festivals to established shows, there’s a platform out there for brands—and attendees—of every stripe. So do your due diligence, find a festival activation that aligns with your goals, then get out there and rock it.



Check out Google I/O. It’s a proprietary conference experience that’s a creative twist on the festival activation idea. To see other cool brand activations and sponsorships click here.


Posted by Kelly Stein | Request as a Speaker

Event wizard. Instagram doctor. Magic maker. Rooted in Texas, based in Cali. Eats, prays, slays, repeats, y'all.