With summer coming to a close, we decided to take a look back at how some of the country’s most well-attended music festivals — Coachella, Bonnaroo, Firefly, and most recently, Lollapalooza — used social and digital activations to enhance their crop-topped crowds’ festival experiences. We took a look into an array of festival activations including RFID bracelets, .gif animators, and Instagram installations; so, whether you found yourself swaying side-to-side at Woodstock 45 years ago, or your Coachella sunburn just stopped peeling, we think you’ll appreciate the great lengths festivals are going to these days to ensure that no experience goes undocumented. After all, how else are you supposed to prove to your future children that you once crowd surfed in the middle of a field in Delaware?
Festival Facts and Stats
Coachella: Indio, California // April 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Muse, Arcade Fire // Launched 1999
Bonnaroo: Manchester, Tennessee // June 2014 // Headliners: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White // Launched 2002
Firefly: Dover, Delaware // June 2014 // Headliners: OutKast, Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson // Launched 2012
Lollapalooza: Chicago, Illinois // August 2014 // Headliners: Eminem, OutKast, Kings of Leon // Launched 1991
If you’ve been to a music festival recently you know that the likelihood of your cell phone battery dying is high (gasp!). Should this tragically occur, how are you supposed to check-in to the OutKast stage on Facebook? Thanks to radio frequency identification technology (R.F.I.D.), several festivals have started implementing R.F.I.D. wristbands that attendees can “personalize” using their Facebook information. Lollapalooza attendees were even able to pay for food and drinks using their smart wristbands as part of the Lolla Cashless system, making them the first music festival to take that leap. Not only is this feature handy for festival attendees, it’s a gold mine for marketers. Think about all the data and analytics you can get by scanning those wristbands, people.
Festival fashion is synonymous with cut-offs, fringe, and fanny packs. This year Coachella partnered with H&M to capture festival-goers’ style with one of our favorite social activations — they’re calling it “H&M <3 Music,” and we’re calling it “The .GIF Runway”. Users were recorded walking on a treadmill-like platform in front of a green screen, and turned into psychedelic supermodels after a little bit of photo magic. The outcome below is pure genius.
Human-sized photo frames are all the rage at festivals this summer. If Instagramming your music festival experience wasn’t already at the forefront of your mind when you walked through the gates, these festival photo frames are an in-your-face reminder to strike a pose with your pals.
Not only were Firefly Instagrammers able to collect free polaroid sticker prints of photos they tagged with #InstaFirefly, little did they know that they were simultaneously helping Firefly paint a much bigger picture with their photos. Throughout the festival, Firefly staff were tasked with strategically placing copies of fan photos onto a wall, creating a giant photo mosaic. At the end of the weekend, Firefly revealed the finished product via their own Instagram account.
Sure .GIF runways are awesome and cashless wristbands are convenient, but get a celebrity to show up to your festival and you have the power to break Twitter. Native Chicagoan Malia Obama was spotted at Lollapalooza this month in true festival fashion — a flower printed tank top accessorized with her Secret Service agents. One lucky fan actually managed to sneak a photo with the eldest Obama, and was kind enough to share the moment on Twitter.
J chillin with Malia Obama✌️ pic.twitter.com/IuM0A88g9B
— Sarah (@cleaaaaver) August 4, 2014
We can’t help but think that the only thing missing from this impressive collection of activations is a Social Beer Fridge — like this one – that fans can unlock with their wristbands. Who knows what next summer will bring. Until then, enjoy this Spotify playlist with your crappy headphones while you count down to next summer’s festivals.