Festival season has finally drawn to a close. We danced, we sang, and we experienced brand activations worth writing home about, or at least, reminiscing about as we sip that final warm tinny on the train home. Festival season is a time of boundless creativity and innovation, where brands strive to capture the hearts and minds of festival-goers through immersive activations that leave a lasting impact. In this year’s festival circuit, Coachella emerged as a fertile ground for remarkable brand experiences that transported consumers into the realms of imagination, technology, and practicality. One standout activation, orchestrated by the digital media powerhouse BDG at NYLON House, transformed the festival landscape with the concept of “Cheeto-verse,” while Neutrogena and Hunter seized the opportunity to make festival life better, each in their own unique way. In this blog post, we unpick the best festival activations of the year, where brands truly embraced the spirit of summer festivals and made their mark in unforgettable ways.
Coachella: The Festival Giant that portaled consumers inside a best-loved crisp’s world.
BDG, known for counting brands like Bustle, NYLON, Elite Daily, and The Zoe Report on their roster, orchestrated a remarkable summer festival brand activation at Coachella this year with NYLON House. Taking place in a lavish private estate in Indio in April, this event was amplified by its diverse range of sponsors, including Toyota, Cheetos, Mugler, Got2b, and SHEGLAM. Notably, BDG’s experiential team brought Cheetos’ #BeyondHot messaging to life with The Cheeto-verse at NYLON House x Coachella. It served as an example of brand activation done-right. It blended elements of art, sound, and gastronomy, taking attendees on an unforgettable journey through the immersive world of Flamin’ Hot flavor. The Cheeto-verse transported guests through a captivating tunnel filled with mystery, where enigmatic hands, plush furry walls, and oversized Cheetos engulfed them in a sensory wonderland. The element of spectacle and instilling playful, fun emotions in festival goers activated our ‘Magic’ lever in an incredibly authentic way. Merging the visual and tactile with the taste of Cheetos, partygoers were not only treated to a unique sensory experience but were also encouraged to share their deepest secrets, adding a personal, self-reflective touch to the event which activates our ‘Exchange lever’ as well. And the crowd was serenaded by rapper MIMS whilst tasting Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Tangy Chili Fusion flavor. Once you move past the cheesy finger problem – what a time to be alive.
Doing good, and doing it well: Neutrogena, we like your style.
Neutrogena’s debut as the official skin and suncare sponsor at Coachella this year was a great example of a festival brand activation to do good, done-right. Neutrogena’s mission was to ensure festival-goers had easy access to sun protection by strategically placing sunscreen dispensers throughout the festival grounds, distributing an impressive 48,000 ML of sunscreen during the first weekend alone in a festival environment notorious for its scorching sun.
Crafting an interactive activation with an educative focus, Neutrogena created a multi-faceted on-site activation divided into three distinct zones, each offering festival attendees a unique and immersive experience. These zones, aptly named the Dynamic Barrier, Cellular Activity level, and Inner Core, allowed festival goers to explore the science behind Neutrogena’s skin care products and how they protect against the harsh desert environment of Coachella. This science-first approach not only educated consumers but also showcased Neutrogena’s commitment to innovation and the efficacy of their formulas – a brilliant example of how to tap into the ‘Relevance’ and ‘Value’ levers we advocate at We Are Collider: teaching them something personally meaningful to them.
Furthermore, Neutrogena’s partnership with Spotify, featuring a festival preparation playlist with global brand ambassadors Chloe and Halle Bailey, added another layer of engagement and entertainment to the activation. By blending science, music, and skincare seamlessly, Neutrogena effectively elevated its brand presence at Coachella, leaving a lasting impression on festival attendees.
Glastonbury X Hunter: Muddiness be gone.
This Glastonbury Welly Wash campaign stands out as a remarkable example of a summer festival brand activation executed brilliantly. The primary objective was to create direct customer interactions and reinforce Hunter’s position as the ultimate festival fashion brand. The strategy was cleverly rooted in the festival’s iconic mud and the train journey home, recognizing that festival goers wearing Hunter wellies should take pride in their choice. By bringing in the brand heuristics and using our ‘Labelling’ lever, the campaign successfully personified Hunter as the superhero to the all too well known Glastonbury problem: The muddy train ride back to HQ.
The brilliance of the Glastonbury Welly Wash lies in its execution. Festival-goers, covered in mud from head to toe, were offered a welly wash at Castle Cary Station as they headed home. This thoughtful gesture ensured that their Hunter boots remained pristine for the train ride, allowing consumers to bask in the satisfaction of wearing the ultimate festival footwear while keeping the train mud-free. This experiential activation not only engaged customers directly in a practical way which taps into our ‘Relevance’ lever but also left a lasting positive impression, rooted in authenticity and associating Hunter with practicality and pride.
The Glastonbury Welly Wash campaign serves as an exemplary model of how to create a meaningful brand experience at a summer festival. It showcased the power of understanding the festival’s unique environment and leveraging it to strengthen authentic brand connection. By providing a tangible benefit to festival-goers and turning a potential muddy, dusty inconvenience into a moment of pride, Hunter’s successfully reinforced its image as the go-to festival fashion brand, leaving festival attendees with a memorable and positive brand association.
As the curtains close on this year’s summer festival season, we’re left with a remarkable collection of brand activations that not only entertained but also resonated with festival-goers at a heightened level. From the captivating Cheetoverse at NYLON House, which celebrated individuality, authentic playfulness and innovative interaction, to Neutrogena’s commitment to sun protection and valuable science education, and finally, Hunter’s ingenious solution to muddy festival wear at Glastonbury – these activations showcased the diverse ways in which brands can excel in the festival arena.
In a world where consumers crave more than just products – they seek authentic experiences, emotions, and connections – these festival activations stand as shining examples of how brands can rise to the occasion. They remind us that successful activations aren’t just about visibility but about creating genuine moments of engagement, enrichment, and even practicality. As we eagerly anticipate the next festival season, one thing is clear: brands that truly understand the essence of festivals and craft meaningful experiences will continue to be celebrated, cherished, and embraced by festival-goers worldwide.