11 Killer Coachella Activations that Leave #sponsoredpost Fatigue in the Dust

Apr 25, 2019

Influencers will always be royalty at Coachella, but innovative brands are finding savvy new ways to engage their target audience in 2019.

Scroll on for the goods, fam. 👇


The Influencer Olympics. The Super Bowl of Instagram.

The World's Most Instagrammed Festival. No matter how you slice it, Coachella is ground zero for IRL social marketing. And it’s pretty obvious why—with a millennial majority of 250,000 attendees spending some serious cash (a cool $704 million in economic activity and an estimated $2347 to attend), the festival is the ideal microcosm for innovative marketing experiments, exclusive branded parties, and engaging activations that target a selective audience.

Whether it’s the long commute to the middle of the desert, the hundreds of thousands of attendees in forward-thinking festival fashion, or the most Instagrammable ops filled with vintage carousels and larger than life ferris wheels, one thing’s for sure: festival-goers are transported to another time and place. No wonder Coachella is the ultimate scene for your followers to peep, a festival practically and ultimately built for influencers—and a wide range of them. Every year, we see some of the most influential celebs ‘gramming their outfits, experiences, and events in real time, with marketers jumping (and paying $$$) for the chance for an @mention or tag.

It’s all good, right? Well, here’s the problem—the kids are wising up to the macro influencer game, and 78% of millennials don’t like or are indifferent to celebrity endorsements. Simply put, the crowd is fatigued from an influx of #ads and #sponsoredposts. In response, brands are boosting perceived authenticity by investing 40% of the influencer spend in micro influencers, compared to 28% for celebrities. But what’s even more authentic than that, you ask? Tapping into the consumer directly through a (gasp) IRL experience.

Stop scrolling, start doing. Time for action.

After growing up with sophisticated marketing surrounding them, audiences are on high alert for selling tactics. Brands recognize this #sponsoredpost fatigue, and in return, have dreamt up some magical experiences and activations for their fans. Activations and experiences are deeply effective for brand loyalty because they weave a brand into a memory for the consumer.

And with activations, everyone wins—thanks to the principle of reciprocity. When consumers receive an experience, enjoy an event, and participate in an activation, they subconsciously feel that they owe something in return. Often, they often pay this “debt” by sharing a selfie, hashtag, photo tag, or @mention. You heard it here first. Coachella 2019—the year brands move past using mainstream influencer marketing as their number one. The year they dive deeper than just tapping influencers and get creative influencing the crowd with activations and experiences they will cherish for a lifetime.

Let’s round up 11 of the most rad from weekend one.

1.YSL Beauty Pop Up

Dare we say it—the perfect execution of influencer and activation? YSL’s beauty pop up was strategically placed as a pit stop for festival goers on their way to Coachella. A mix of photo ops and product-focused activations, the YSL team’s partnership with Kaia Gerber brought the hype and the people to experience this aesthetic wonderland for themselves.

2. Calvin Klein 70s Style House

With a nod to Coachella’s 70s-inspired festival uniform, Calvin Klein opened their 70s style house with product placement, influencer images, and rooms designed with UGC on Instagram in mind.

3. Adidas

We’re just going to say it...this is one of the coolest uses of technology for engagement at Coachella this year. Adidas x Childish Gambino changed the game by literally AirDropping their unreleased collab to unsuspecting concert-goers and connecting with them in real life.

coachella 2019 adidas

4. Google Pixel 3 x Childish Gambino

Round two for a Childish Gambino collaboration this year. Another perfect execution of the draw of a celebrity influencer paired with real-life experience, Google Pixel 3 mixed event with product seamlessly. The event, “Brighter in the Dark”, featured a larger than life design, the draw of a set from Childish Gambino, and activations to showcase Google Pixel 3’s camera on night mode. What better audience than those attending the most Instagrammable concert in the world?

5. REVOLVE Festival

What would this list be without the OGs of “Brandchella”, fashion giant REVOLVE. And TBH, what did they not do this year? Between their annual star-studded #REVOLVEfestival (which some have speculated is getting bigger than Coachella itself), setting the scene with lounges courtesy of a partnership with Virgin Voyages, and creating custom social templates for Coachella to capture all the memories, this is the inspiration we’re here for.

6. NYX

Glitter and festivals go together like avocados and toast. Known for their bold looks and cult fan base, NYX was in their element this year while launching their Glitter Goals Collection at their glam station for festival goers, providing a cool, WIFI enabled place to hang and start their memories off right.

7. Amazon

Of course one of the most innovative companies of all time, Amazon, would make an appearance. Sticking true to their service, Amazon offered lockers packed with pre-ordered festival essentials. Add a little celebrity endorsement and voila—a perfect pair.

8. HP

Where artistry meets tech. HP partners with RÜFÜS DU SOL to launch their newest music video, Underwater, using HP’s latest technology. Check and mate.

rufus du sol coachella 2019

9. Peet's Coffee

In the immortal words of Lorelai Gilmore, “Coffee.Coffee.Coffee”. We’re forever grateful to anyone that can start our engines for the most energetic festival ever. Thanks, Peet's!

10. Pantene

Festival hair, don’t care. Pantene capitalizes on their market by offering a styling station to primp your fishtail braid and flower crown 🌸 Peace and love.

11. Bose

Not to be outdone, Bose tapped into the futuristic energy of the festival and offered the first audio AR glasses equipped with VIP audio content and exclusive festival announcements.


Even Instagram itself is getting in on the activation action this year! In true exclusive Coachella fashion, Insta kept the location under wraps until 24 hours before, invited only A-list influencers, loaded up on prime photo ops and backdrops, and kept the branded haven 18+. Check out their #desertchill event.

See you next year, Coachella. 👋

Header image: @camilacoelho

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coachella activations

Maggie Hickey

Director of Strategic Partnerships @ Dash Hudson