Coachella 2022. Back with a bang, and more brand activations

After two years of Covid cancellations, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival brought the beautiful people back to Indio California for two weekends of deliciously diverse musical entertainment this April. And as Kiosk’s semi-official Coachella correspondent, your gal was there on weekend one to soak up the sun, sleep in on Sunday, catch some incredible musical acts, flex a little social media muscle and catch a glimpse of some of the marketing activations taking place.

Actually, a lot of the brand buzz around Coachella is kinda hard to spot when actually at Coachella, with much of the hype taking place offsite, at hospitality events and VIP after parties like Neon Carnival, where brands like Levi’s and Tequila Don Julio cater to the celebrity set. 

At the festival itself, the Heineken House is a well-established destination/activation, offering cold beer and hot DJs. Meanwhile, American Express makes the most of their brand partnership with the festival, offering cardholders access to the Amex Lounge, rides on the iconic Ferris wheel, exclusive merch drops from headliner Billie Eilish and members-only visiting hours at the Spectra art installation (the striking, multicolored architectural tube that debuted in 2018). All very on-brand and exclusive in an “airport executive lounge” sort of way, which has real appeal when Coachella exhaustion kicks in. The struggle is real, friends.

Increasingly, the Coachella footprint stretches far outside the festival grounds. YouTube remains the place to enjoy the event from the comfort of your own couch – a.k.a. Couch-ella. And YouTube’s Coachella channel remains the place to catch live streams of headliners alongside a lot of ads for Verizon, pushing their 5G service. Now, the Coachella vibe can also be caught in the massive online game Fortnite, which collaborated on in-game skins (think virtual Coachella outfits and accessories) and with Coachella-themed music on Fortnite’s in-game Icon Radio.

Bridging the gap between the virtual and the physical, Absolut Vodka had both in-person and Metaverse activations happening, with Absolut.Land on the Decentraland platform offering the chance to win exclusive wearables. To “enjoy it to the fullest” you’ll need a crypto wallet, which may be one more accessory than the average Coachella gal wants to keep track of. Sunblock? Check. Lip Gloss? Check. Hydrate? Check! Mint some festival NFTs using my crypto wallet? Ehhh… maybe next year. 

Coachella attendees did have the opportunity to claim a free commemorative NFT, or buy from a collection that includes iconic festival artwork and (for a million bucks, and no, that’s not a misprint) an NFT granting lifetime festival access. By comparison, a Frito Lay “Potadome” offering a four-course potato chip tasting experience seems a little basic. But also a lot more tangible. When you’ve been too busy chasing the next must-see musical act to eat a proper meal, an NFT isn’t going to power you on through the night. But a salty snack sounds just about perfect.

Of course, from craving potato chips to missing Post Malone at the invite-only Revolve Festival party, you can’t possibly catch everything at Coachella. But the combination of magic moments (Billie Eilish, take a bow) and FOMO keeps us coming back for more.