3 Steps To Break Through The Noise Of A Cultural Tentpole

With only a few months to go before Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2019, fans are already buzzing with excitement. But the performances might not be the single most memorable element of the festival. Coachella has become a destination for brands to provide meaningful consumer experiences by leveraging its massive pool of attendees.

Cultural tentpoles — as these large, recognizable events are called — create opportunities for engagement that brands can’t always create on their own. Whether the activation is the campaign’s centerpiece or plays a supporting role in the larger experience, tentpoles provide the perfect opportunity for your brand to capture its target audience’s attention. Here’s how you can capitalize on these cultural moments through experiential marketing tactics.

1. Identify brand-right tentpoles. Determine the moments relevant to your brand and present opportunities that will help you capitalize on the demographic attending. Without a deep understanding of the cultural conversations and undertones around the tentpole, you run the risk of coming across as insincere or passé.



By combining an understanding of the cultural context around a major event with thoroughly weighed audience insights, you can find more organic opportunities to inject your brand into. 

Brands can’t create individual moments at unrelated events, much less milestones in bigger campaigns. Having a fluent understanding of the experiential landscape across multiple tentpoles will help you position your brand within the cultural moments most meaningful to your audience.

2. Give your audiences something new. Major tentpoles attract big brands from multiple industries, but only the ones with the smartest plans win audience attention. Lean on what makes your brand different. Hyper-tailored experiences, hands-on tech integrations, exclusive merch, and gamified activities are just a few tools you can use to stand out from the typical fare. But a tool is only as good as the strategy underpinning it.

Any brand can offer RFID wristbands to check in at an event, but when that technology serves a unique purpose — like helping attendees search for clues in a branded scavenger hunt or unlock exclusive content — consumers are more likely to remember the engagement and the accompanying brand associations. Identify the brand message you own, then outline a strategy to surprise attendees with something unique at every touchpoint of their journey.

3. Craft a story that consumers want to share. Per the study “EventTrack 2018,” over 90% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after attending a sponsored event. But only a few brands can win consumers’ attention before, during, and after the event.

Give attendees something worth remembering by integrating shareable moments that they can share outside the walls of the event. Leverage social media and interactive technology to give guests a reason to stay engaged post-event. 

But don’t miss the opportunity to layer a digital marketing strategy that combines social capture and amplification. Then, incentivize people to share and engage online. Reward guests with special promos, exclusive content, or limited-edition merch when they engage with digital opportunities.

Finally, track audience sentiment toward your brand in the following days and weeks. What are people saying online? Did the event help you reach your goals? Have engagement metrics increased? Determine what people are talking about, then use that information to optimize the next activation.

Events like Coachella exist as tentpoles around which brands can center their activation efforts. But “showing up” isn’t half the battle. You must evaluate these opportunities to determine whether the tentpole makes sense for your brand. Once you’re there, it’s about creating moments that break the mold and keep the story alive. Only then will you find sustainable value in activating at a culture tentpole.

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