By Lyndsey Garza, MOJO Ad Liaison

Want to reach the elusive Millennial in a meaningful way? Follow the music.

Music festivals, like CoachellaSummerfest and Ultra are a few of the most coveted experiences in hearts of many YAYA consumers. These events are breeding grounds for this experiential audience, who flock to escape their reality for a weekend or two inside the festival gates. Attendance at festivals has skyrocketed over the last decade and a half – in fact, Coachella has seen a 260% increase since the first debut in 1999.

From an industry aspect, advertisers are catching on to this cultural phenomenon, as AdAge reports a 4.4% increase in brand penetration in the past year. But what’s in it for brands? According to a Nielsen report, 76% of festival attendees say they feel find brands that sponsor tours or concerts of choice as inherently more favorable.

In order to position your brand strategically to entice Millennials at music festivals, embody the following insights.

1. Experience Over Everything

Millennials in the YAYA market value experience over anything. In fact, 81% of Millennials value experience over material items and 72% would put their money where their mouth is, too, according to JWT Intelligence. 72% of Millennials crave experiences that stimulate their senses.


You can satisfy all three desires with a bass-pumping, neon-clad, heart-racing music festival. The festival experience is an all encompassing sensory overload with festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival donning large-scale art installations, huge misting daisies, fire breathers and men on stilts.

How to leverage this

Create a socially-driven experiential marketing campaign that allows YAYA festival attendees a way to interact with your brand and their friends in a unique and memorable way. Music festivals are highly experiential and community-driven events, with a culture that embodies elaborate, one-of-a-kind costumes, kandi (candy-colored beaded bracelets made to be shared) and most of all PLUR (peace, love, unity and respect – or the mantra of the electronic dance music culture).

Brands that do festivals right

At the 2013 Pitchfork Music Festival, H&M invited people into their own air-conditioned and DJ-manned tent, which was stocked with water, sunscreen, dry shampoo, a nail art salon and deodorant.


Gap partnered with the Washington music festival Sasquatch to create their own campsite, appropriately named “Camp Gap”. The retailer featured stations to create DIY cutoff shorts, do face painting and even press pennies.

At South by Southwest (SXSW), Gap teamed up with Tumblr and Filter magazine to present Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and ran Pinterest and Twitter contests for free tickets, which drove huge engagement with the brand.

2. Festivals are Food to Social Feeds

Music festivals live, breathe and grow on social media.

At the 2012 Lollapalooza, a storm left the festival in limbo and left attendees and artists alike in the dark – until few reached out on Twitter.

The 2013 Bonnaroo lineup was announced directly on YouTube by Weird Al Yankovich. At the festival, attendees could sync their wristband to Facebook, and were instantaneously checked in on their feed with the name of the artist currently playing and stage location.

At last year’s Country Music Association (CMA) Music Festival, concertgoers could tag their Instagram photos with #CMAfest and they would show up in real-time, on air, during the broadcasted show.

San Francisco’s Outside Lands partnered with Esurance to utilize near-field communication enabled wristbands last year. The bands allowed ticketholders to instantly win prizes, check in, take and upload photos directly to Facebook, download set lists, remember food/drink preferences as well as leave geo-targeted messages to friends when separated.

How to leverage this

Make your brand’s festival experience native for smartphones, so sharing on social media will be seamless. A report by Mashable says 32% of festival attendees send Facebook updates or Tweets from the show, 53% use their smartphone as their primary camera and 47% text and email during shows.

Brands that do festivals right

At SXSW this year, Doritos teamed up with Lady Gaga and asked fans to record themselves doing something particularly bold (tagged with #BoldStage) for access to her performance.

Little Monsters could perform a variety of challenges (from getting an impromptu haircut to spontaneously becoming street performers or even challenging roller derby pros), all sponsored by the brand, for extra swag and a chance at a ticket.

VH1 hosted live music and their own branded photobooth at the 2013 Lollapalooza.


Attendees could create their own animated GIFs and share instantaneously on social media. In addition, VH1 built a 10’ jumbotron showing Lollapalooza Tweets and Instagram photos tagged with #BestLollaEver in real-time.

3. Woodstock? Try Burning Man or Electric Forest

There is something undeniably nostalgic about the feel of music festivals, whether it is the fashion, the sense of community or even the wanderlust of traveling. Nostalgia (check out my last post for more) is something the YAYA consumer responds fondly to.

It’s easy to see the resemblance of Woodstock when you go to Burning Man or Electric Forest.

And who could forget about the holographic Tupac performance at Coachella in 2012?

How to leverage this


Create a sense of community that resembles that of Woodstock’s in the 60’s. Avid festivalgoers typically travel long distances to embody this experience, so create a sense of exclusivity through your brand that resonates with the YAYA audience.

Brands that do festivals right

Budweiser’s “Made in America” festival is a branded wonderland for the beer enthusiast community to frolic. The 2-day event features a variety of beer gardens, branded food trucks and merchandise galore for exclusive guests. Once you enter the grounds by checking in on a myriad of iPads through your Facebook account, it’s hard to not feel like you’re at a VIP party – especially when in the company of Jay-Z!

(See original YAYA Connection post here.)


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