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Brands Return for Coachella’s Big 2022 Comeback for Gen Z Engagement & Bring the Party to the Metaverse

Two consecutive weekends of music, fashion and revelry make Coachella one of the most celebrated music and arts festivals.

Now that crowd size restrictions have lifted nationally, large-scale events have returned. And Coachella has made its comeback welcomed with gusto by fashion and lifestyle brands after it went silent in 2019 and 2021 due to Covid-related concerns.

As usual, the buzzy music festival, which ran April 15-17 followed by a final lap on April 23-25, enlisted megawatt names who took the stage in Indio, Calif. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Anitta, Kanye West and more were part of the roster.

Harry Styles, Coachella 2022, jumpsuit, black loafers, Indio CA, April 15 2022
Harry Styles performing at Coachella in Indio, Calif., on April 15, 2022.
CREDIT: MEGA

Celebrity fans, influencers and everyone else made their annual pilgrimage to the desert — and not entirely for the music. Fashion and lifestyle labels have been tapping into the power of Coachella for branding opportunities for years, with big activations by Revolve, PrettyLittleThing, Levi’s and StockX among some of the attractions.

Brands across all categories made their presence felt either on festival grounds or offsite at Coachella-adjacent events. StockX did both.

The online sneaker reseller hosted its first Divots in the Desert golf invitational at Indian Wells Golf Resort in Palm Springs on April 14 — one day ahead of Coachella’s official start — featuring pro athletes and celebrities on the green as well as product releases; activations from partners like Malbon; glow-in-the-dark golf for guests and a performance by Fetty Wap.

For the actual Coachella Festival, StockX was onsite throughout the weekend as its official drop partner via DropX, StockX’s direct-to-consumer product release platform that connected attendees with access to 10 exclusive capsule collections. StockX also unveiled art installations, where they provided phone charging stations, free wifi and chances to win website credits.

However, most of the grand activations are not a part of Coachella — they happen during Coachella. Aside from a shorter menu of events, not much has changed.

Foot Locker tapped into the social currency that comes with the Coachella conversation, partnering with Galore x Ontwrk for the Rebel Ranch party on April 15 in Palm Springs. Tyga, fresh off his sneaker collaboration with MSCHF, served as DJ while “Euphoria” star Chloe Cherry mingled with guests by a NYX glam booth. Foot Locker said the poolside party was prime exposure for their growing proprietary brand Melody Ehsani and the festival-inspired ME collection by women’s creative director, Melody Ehsani.

“Cultural moments are a natural place for us to connect,” said Holly Tedesco, vice president of marketing at Foot Locker. “Finding moments to tap into those passion points is natural for us, making it the right time to authentically build awareness for our growing proprietary brands — All City by Just Don and Melody Ehsani. Our customer is dressing for the occasion, so not only do we create context around footwear for being at your best for festivals, but our women’s creative director, Melody Ehsani, has designed an apparel collection that provides that total look.”

Also on Friday, MCM Worldwide partnered with Nylon House for an immersive luxury playground experience at an estate, where Anitta, Emma Chamberlain and Sabrina Carpenter made appearances. With Gen Z represented in large numbers during Coachella weekend, the brand courted the consumer segment with gratis fragrances and shirts, a metaverse-inspired dance floor complete with projection mapping and special effects, and a reminder of its heritage product with a custom-made MCM Trunk Suitcase Bar for content creation.

“We continue to target the millennials as they essentially grew up with MCM but are increasingly focusing on the Gen Z audience that attend these festivals,” said MCM’s global creative director Dirk Schönberger. “They continue to have a hold on the market, and their influence is unlike any I’ve seen with other generations. We find inspiration from the Gen Z group, be it their fashion sense, taste in music, or how quickly they can pivot from one area of interest to another — they constantly challenge me to think creatively and continue innovating.”

At the same estate, the next day saw Rachel Zoe returning with her ZOEasis party, hosting Olivia Culpo, Keke Palmer and Nicole Scherzinger.

Rachel Zoe and Olivia Culpo
Rachel Zoe (L) and Olivia Culpo at ZOEasis on April 16, 2022 in La Quinta, Calif.
CREDIT: Shutterstock for BDG

While one-off events can present challenges for party hoppers, with 30 miles in between Palm Springs resort venues and the ranches/estates that surround Coachella festival grounds, some brands offered more opportunities for participation with multiple experiences spanning Friday through Sunday.

Hugo — the Hugo Boss diffusion line targeted at Gen Z — had a weekend-long pop-up hotel; partnered with Soho House on a Desert House party on Saturday; and held a brunch with SVP of creative direction Marco Falcioni. Meanwhile, fast fashion e-tailer PrettyLittleThing joined Tao Hospitality Group for evening after-parties on Friday and Saturday, and concluded Sunday with a daytime pool party.

justine skye, coachella 2022, soho house hugo
Justine Skye at Hugo Soho House.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Hugo

Revolve Festival revived its multi-day events at the Merv Griffin estate in La Quinta, attracting Halsey, Timothée Chalamet, Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner (who was supporting her 818 Tequila brand’s onsite activation). Bia, Jack Harlow, Migos, Post Malone and Willow Smith performed for guests. Typically one of the most talked-about events, it fulfilled its reputation on Saturday after angry influencers complained of long wait times for shuttle service. The e-tailer issued an apology along with a promise to do better, citing capacity issues. Operations were nearly flawless the next day, according to some influencers.

revolve festival 2022, michael mente, kim kardashians, coachella 2022
Kim Kardashian (center) with Revolve CEO and founder Michael Mente at Revolve Festival on April 16, 2022 in La Quinta, Calif., during Coachella.
CREDIT: Sansho Scott/BFA.com

Revolve’s position among Coachella events is strong, garnering $21 million in Media Impact Value in 2018, according to data from Launchmetrics, a software and data insights company with a focus on fashion, beauty and luxury. $16.5 million from that pie was generated from their hashtag “#revolvefestival.” To add context, the total activation from 2018 represents about 50% of their monthly average MIV today. (MIV is a proprietary metric that assigns a true monetary value to marketing strategies across print, online and social media in order to calculate ROI.)

Levi’s took a different approach this year with its engagement, opting to press pause on its standalone party in Coachella Valley and hold a mix of activities in Los Angeles, including a Festival Haus with product customizations and seeding of the spring 2022 Fresh festival-inspired collection for influencers in the weeks ahead of Coachella; they also held a Haus Party with a performance by Free Nationals held on April 20 in between the Coachella weekends. The brand did continue its celebrity-loved Neon Carnival for the fourth consecutive year—considered the “Coachella after-party” by many guests.

Jared Leto, Leonardo DiCaprio and more stars made discreet arrivals, and Paris Hilton was seen riding a pink unicorn. Along with Hilton, Levi’s took the experience to the metaverse this year in “Paris World” on Roblox with product drops and prizes.

“Our presence at Coachella by way of Neon Carnival helps us keep our authentic connection to music, while placing our brand at the center of culture,” said Karen Riley-Grant, chief marketing officer, Levi Strauss & Co. “Neon Carnival is where fashion, music and entertainment merge in one place.”

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