Since its initial start in 1999, Coachella has changed drastically for better or for worse. The iconic desert festival and the epitome of the Californian lifestyle runs for two consecutive weekends: this year from April 12 to 14, and 19 to 21. What used to be a festival centred around music, is now a place that includes art installations and has brands competing head-to-head with the event’s main stages to win festival-goers attention.
But after 20 years of its growing popularity and reaching a pop-culture peak, we must ask ourselves if it’s still worth it for brands to fight for ad space during Coachella. With brand sponsorship spending on music tours, festivals and venues topping $1.54 billion, is the expense really worth it? Let’s find out:
1. Social media backlash Disliking Coachella Culture is arguably becoming as popular as the festival itself. A quick Instagram hashtag search garners over 79,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag #NOchella.
The hashtag celebrates the fact that people are saying No to Coachella or actively boycotting the festival. The disproval reigns in on the polarizing, yet prominent, fashion choices seen at Coachella, notably the culturally offensive and appropriating outfits. For years, Coachella has sparked controversy over the prevailing issue around the attendee’s fashion attire that demean other cultures.
The festival has been resented for being extremely pricey for the general audience, with a “basic experience” starting from $900. What began as a music festival, has instead become a fashion competition for attendees, with the actual musical performances taking the backseat.
While definitely trending, brands need to ask themselves if the festival will affect their brands’ sentiment and perception.
2. Is it still authentic? Another significant criticism Coachella has come under in recent years is that brand advertising at the festival doesn’t feel authentic anymore. Most brands aspire to be at Coachella, but it’s not a perfect fit for all of them.
A huge number of influencers attend every year - traditionally, influencers bring authenticity with them, however, with influencers wearing what they generally would not, and promoting brands they might not use - people have started questioning the authenticity of the content produced and of the festival-goers as well.
3. Fighting for brand space Coachella has now become oversaturated, which makes it harder for brands to cut through the clutter. Brands are limited at such festivals due to the sheer number of sponsors competing for ad-space and catering to a limited number of eyeballs. More prominent brands often carry out their own events and mini-festivals, utilizing the social media reach of popular influencers. This makes it a challenge for other brands to capitalize on Coachella without breaking the bank.
There is an emerging trend of #NOchella. However, it doesn’t mean per se, that it’s dead or that brands shouldn’t partake in this massive festival. It is prudent, however, that brands carry out a cost-benefit analysis, and realize whether the festival, the associated brands and the budgets are worth spending money for.
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