Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Alex Stoller and Saige Sharp, who are both associate digital strategists at Hill Holliday.
Ten-second clips of Kendrick Lamar performing "ELEMENT." on a fiery set just three days after the release of his new album, Damn. A shimmering 35-foot tower of 2,120 circular mirrors, perfect for trendy selfies. Waffles on a stick rolled in Fruity Pebbles. The dry expanse of Indio mountains, shot from the highest point of an illuminated Ferris wheel.
The above were just a few of the highlights we experienced from week one of Coachella 2017. No, we were not in the deserts of California. Instead, we lived out the music, food, landscapes and art that make Coachella a millennial favorite, from our lives at home as we scrolled through our Instagram feeds.
Coachella, often thought of as an over-branded gimmick, still might have a winning formula for brands. The festival understands its primary consumers — millennials seeking shareable experiences filled with bliss, love and the works.
Seventy-two percent of millennials say they want to shift their spending habits from material things to real-life experiences, according to an Eventbrite study. And when they do spend on experiences, there's a need to share. Nearly seven in 10 fear missing out, a phenomenon that motivates this group to show up and say 'I'm here.'
So what can brands learn from Coachella? The more 'gram-worthy the set-up, the more social chatter it will receive. In doing so, it has become the birthplace and showcase of millennial trends.
Artistic in nature, the annual festival allows for contemporary artists and brands alike to leave a mark on a larger cultural conversation. While artists get more exposure, brands get backdrops for immersive experiences that beg for user-generated content.
Popsugar hosted an influencer-only brunch that later opened into a pool party. Guests were given bracelets with the event's hashtag and access to a 360-degree camera for capturing (and sharing) the event from all angles. A social media video director was on the ground for real-time content creation specifically for guest’s social channels.
Audiences capturing and sharing result in an infinite number of interpretations and social gratification. Social continues to shift culture. We've slipped into a paradigm where the opportunity for content creation and shareability are now expected.
With 'grammable moments all over Coachella, the experience travels beyond the festival grounds and is preserved in the Instagram feed. The connections to brands, artists and emerging trends are limitless.
It all seems well and good until we look up from our phone screens to see more phones pointing and shooting, than taking it all in live. Stepping back, we question, are we losing the thrill of truly living in the moment?
And yet from the other end of the phone's screen, we can't stop either. Because, for 10 precious seconds, we'll pause our lives to get our fill of the "real thing" — a personal serenade of "Skinny Love' from Bon Iver himself, live from Coachella 2017.