For the past few years, my blogs around this time of year have focused on an event we co-produce called the Southwest Invasion. In addition, Section 101, one of the co-founders, does all the digital branding.
If you aren’t familiar, the Southwest Invasion is three days of FREE music that takes place on the Whole Foods Austin rooftop. Not only does it benefit Whole Foods’ Whole Planet Foundation, but also, it’s a really great event if I can say so myself. We get terrific artists, we love working with the Whole Foods team, and the rooftop is always standing room only. We also get the opportunity to work with some amazing brands, and that’s what I wanted to center in on for this blog.
“Brand activation” has been a big buzzword for the past few years. In a nutshell, it is the goal of brand activation to drive a consumer to action through brand interaction and experiences. In other words, you get a captive audience engaged with your brand through sampling or demoing, and then they act upon it. A good example of this is how the Apple store is set up, where people walk around, pick up Apple products, participate with them, talk about them; it’s a social experience. What better way to have brand activation than at a free live event with very excited music lovers??
Fans of the Southwest Invasion may come to see their favorite band or artist, but they also had the opportunity to participate with our sponsors, who put together fun and interesting ways for attendees to learn about their brand. If you were at the Southwest Invasion, you may have learned that Califia Farms has a new cold brew iced coffee sweeten by almondmilk that was delicious, that Hops & Grain made a special IPA just for the event, or that truRoots had an incredible Black Bean Quinoa Salad people were talking about. You could have also sampled some Health-Ade Kombucha (and taken a fun photo at their booth), had some amazing OCHO organic chocolate candy and eaten a new nutbutter filled Clif Bars while receiving an LP track on a recycled plate from their record lab. You would have had a lot of fun taking a photo as a “faux band” with Wells Fargo or trying out one of the colorful Schwinn bikes people raced around with or enjoyed the morning yoga with Zico Coconut water. And of course the whole thing took place at Whole Foods – how’s that for brand activation?!
When brands were spending a lot of money at events – and it’s of my opinion that they’ve chosen not to do that anymore, and for good reason (read on) – there would be so many bells and whistles that what they were after – introducing a new product - was lost. With a more grassroots approach, where the attendee feels like they’re discovering something themselves, you are giving people memorable experiences.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the great music we had: the incredible Jamie Kent headlining the second day of our Homegrown stage along with brother/sister duo Lawrence, and a must-see performance from Katie Garibaldi. The main stage featured terrific performances as well, including the amazing Angela McCluskey, Kate Nash, and our two fantastic headliners Modern English and Hanson.
Yes, people came to the Southwest Invasion for the music, but they stayed, experienced and discovered so much more!
Photos courtesy Southwest Invasion: Clayton Hodges, Anna Mazurek, Dan Silver