Coachella: A digital marketing sensation | Surf Pacific
May 23, 2016

Coachella: A digital marketing sensation

In April, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival once again descended upon Palm Springs, California, drawing in over 200,000 attendees. Over the years, the two-weekend festival has charmed music lovers and artists, giving them a chance to see some of the world’s greatest musical acts, attend exclusive after-parties with the rich and famous, and of course, share their experience on social media platforms.

Along with the concentrated audience, brands flocked in for the year’s biggest marketing opportunity. Innovative companies leveraged the reach of top social media influencers to expand brand awareness. Driven by contests and giveaways, brands engaged millions of consumers through creative, integrated and influential marketing campaigns.

Coachella: A digital marketing sensation | Surf Pacific

Growing an Audience

Attending a multi-day music festival has become almost a rite of passage for the millennial generation. As the festival’s notoriety grows and Coachella becomes more mainstream, audience growth, loyalty, and influence have followed. However, in the beginning, Coachella brought in their loyal audience simply by giving them what they wanted. They targeted a niche audience with interesting, fun and unique marketing and a product worthy of their time.

Combining a location filled with chart-topping artists, a cool California atmosphere, and innovation, Coachella quickly grew a devoted audience. Over the past 14 years, Coachella has constantly sold out, gaining an audience who has remained captivated by the brand’s unique approach to delivering what they want. Coachella is all about being a part of a unique and exciting experience, shared by others with the same interests and love for music. Today, we look to Coachella and their loyal fan base for inspiration from their journey to global success.

Integrating Social Media

The rise of social media platforms has transformed the way people experience large cultural events and how they share these events with friends and followers. There was no doubt that Coachella’s marketing focus on social media platforms was the perfect mix to excite and draw in a focused mass of trendsetting millennials.

During Coachella, attendees flood their social media feeds with photos, videos and posts showcasing the festival fashion, top performances, brands and more. Coachella 2016 saw more than 3.5 million tweets posted by fans in the first weekend.

Coachella understands their audience and how to reach them via their social media channels. Their digital marketing presence is all about building the hype and excitement leading to the event and then broadcasting the magical weekends, giving their social followers a chance to truly feel they experience Coachella themselves.

This year, attendees were issued with wristbands linked with their Facebook accounts to be entered into draws for a chance to win prizes and VIP passes. To take this further, Coachella installed social check-in scanners placed at each stage where users could scan their wristbands and check in on Facebook. This innovative approach to audience engagement continued the conversation and significantly increased the audience reach.

Coachella: A digital marketing sensation | Surf Pacific


For Coachella, 2016 was the year of social media engagement and interaction, offering fun and unique ways of sharing your experience with your friends and followers. In the midst of the festival activities and musical acts, Coachella set up numerous photo booths throughout the festival grounds. Attendees were encouraged to use their social media influence, take a quick photo with friends and share online. H&M joined in with a photo booth and offered $1 donation to help fight AIDS for every couple they photographed kissing #KissForACause.

Coachella has paved the way for businesses to leverage these ideas to build a strong digital presence and successful marketing platform.

  • Develop a brand attitude
  • Understand your target audience
    • Define their wants and needs
  • Incorporate social media
    • Incorporate contests and giveaways
    • Encourage sharing
    • Include video
  • Build audience awareness and loyalty

So, what lessons can you learn from Coachella and the marketing that helped transform this once modest celebration and grow it into the most sought after music festival experience?