How to master beer sponsorship for events – Heineken + Coachella style

- Eventory Blog


How to master beer sponsorship for events – Heineken + Coachella style



In times of customers immunized to traditional advertising methods brands look for new ways to catch people’s attention. When dealing with products that have additional restrictions in terms of marketing practices the struggle becomes even more real. Heineken, one of the key players of the brewing industry, placed a bet on event marketing and implemented a master plan of beer sponsorship at Coachella Festival. How did it go? Why did it work so well? Let’s find out.

We all know the feeling when while watching tv, a viral video or just scrolling down the website we notice an advertising banner or video. Some of us feel irritated by interrupting us, some of us will just give the ad a quick glance while the rest will just skip it without even noticing the message behind the advert. This common phenomenon of banner blindness starts to be a major drawback of traditional forms of promotion which force companies to change their proven approach.

The struggle of advertising products in the new, more approachable way reached also the brewing and alcohol manufacturing industries. Products aimed at the wide target group needed to overcome the banner blindness syndrome and implement strategies that would bring the liquor companies closer to their Millennial sales-driving force.

beer sponsorhip Coachella style

Events – the new way to promote the brand  

Considering the market changes, many leading companies started to invest large parts of their marketing budgets in events. One of the best-known event marketing campaigns that changed the way we see implementing events to business strategies is Red Bull. The company bravely chose from the variety of event engagement forms by organizing happenings, sponsoring a large contest that corresponds with the brand’s values and showing up at many side events. By doing so, Red Bull started to be considered one of the masters of maintaining client – brand relationship with their Millennials clientele.

Following a Red Bull example, Heineken decided to take their promotion to a new level by becoming Coachella sponsors. Being one of the most, worldwide famous festivals that gather thousands of Millennials in one place, the event became the chance for a company to kickstart their beer sponsorship campaign and take the number one position in the perception of one of the biggest consumer groups of our times. Let’s analyze Heineken’s case – their excellent use of event marketing.

Why alcohol sponsorship for events like Coachella is the perfect fit for marketing to a wide Millennial audience

With Millennials being the biggest and most important target group for companies nowadays, spending roughly about $600 billion each year, reaching their interest with your product seems crucial. Their resistance to regular marketing methods drives the rise of unconventional tactics. Therefore, we can notice how engagement marketing starts to play the lead role and companies around the world try to provide all of the best experiences for their prospects.

 Experiential Marketing – a marketing strategy that uses live events and other engaging activities to create real experiences for participants in order to create a long-lasting connection with a brand. 


Live events, such as summer festivals, are the perfect fit for launching an Engagement Marketing campaign for various reasons. First and foremost, they give you access to thousands of young people who willingly fill their time by engaging in side attractions provided by liquor companies that sponsor events. The connotations are already positive thanks to the general happy vibe of a festival spirit. It’s easy to stay in good memories of the attendees while enhancing their summer adventure.

Groups like Millennials value honesty and authenticity. By showing up at festivals they attend, companies as Heineken can express the brand values in a natural way. Later it can attract customers who also identify with them. Moreover, the mobile era and general use of social media ensure that, when done right, sponsorship actions can go viral across the world which projects created brand image miles outside the festival town.

Generally speaking, participation in large events gives companies direct access to potential customers. During a couple of days full of positive energy and fun you’re able to create and root image of your brand in their mind and contribute to the long-lasting relationship and loyalty to a certain product.

Heineken events and sponsorship of Coachella Festival show that they notice the change in promotion through the real experiences. They ensured to make an already upbeat atmosphere of the festival even more enjoyable for the attendees’ and win their brand image boost.

How to master beer sponsorship for events  – Heineken + Coachella example

If you would like to look for the ultimate guide for an alcohol sponsorship for events, Heineken’s Coachella case should be your benchmark. The cooperation dates back to 2002. Three years after the event was brought to life, Heineken and Coachella decided to join forces and the Festival could be found among Heineken events. Browsing through the history of this powerful example of union between the live event and liquor companies that sponsor events we can witness the mastermind moves of beer sponsorship. Also get the essentials of how to carry on alcohol sponsorship for events. In that case, let’s dive in.

Essential #1: Go beyond the event itself

Some might say that sponsoring an event such as an annual music festival is not an attractive option for a brand because of the short time in which event takes place. While it’s true that the event itself takes approximately 3 days to 2 weeks and happens only once a year, no one says that the impact it has on the brand promotion needs to be only as long as the actual live happening.

Heineken has found the solution. The company stretches the promotional time to about six months. Thanks to the power of social media they build up the excitement around the event and later on, refresh the memories of the experience. Also, they don’t care about the festivals downtimes. Heineken’s off-site activations not only ensure constant engagement with the brand during festival time but also entertain attendees. This way the brand shows and expresses long-term engagement in the festival experience. Coachella gains the full-time engaging program and Heineken (and other sponsors of the festival) gets the constant presence of the brand.

Essential #2 Prepare for the top speed service

Another thing to master the beer sponsorship at the mass events such as Coachella is to be prepared for the, well, mass service. The fast and reliable dealing with long queue full of thirsty festivalgoers is your guarantee to be remembered for a long time. Nothing works better than a life-saving drink served quickly in the right time and accordingly to the customer needs. Believe me, participants will appreciate it and definitely share a good word about your brand in exchange.

At Coachella Heineken learned what it means a massive service. During the 2013 edition, Heineken became an exclusive partner. That means that as a part of beer sponsorship they were the only brand that could provide the festivalgoers with the glass of gold liquid brewed luck. Effects? They managed to serve more than 80 000 participants EACH DAY of the festival. Now, that sounds like a lot of beer for one day, don’t you think?

You could think of how they managed to deal with this amount of sold beverages. The secret is in the amount of branded tents where participants could buy the drink. For example, among Heineken events, you can find also the Open’er Festival taking place in Poland. The distribution points there are located both in the most attended places of the Festival valley. The gastronomical area is fully equipped in the numerous beer taps and so is the area close to the stages. This way no matter where you go you get the access to the Heineken beer and the ques are being off-loaded.

The speed of service is important, but to really boost the event experience and become a game changer for the participants is to keep the top quality of your product.

Essential #3: Summer weather, hot atmosphere and cold beer

Being an attendee of the summer festival may be exhausting. Kilometers between different stages, burning hot sun above your head and dancing to the top class DJs and music stars leave you thirsty. Heineken knew what their customers will need and took care of their beer temperature.

At the Coachella, they provided storage fridges (in the form of large tents) that could be open by scanning a fingerprint of a festivalgoer. This way they had quick access to perfectly cold beer at any time. If that’s not the real value for the Millennials in the festival amok, I don’t know what is. Imagine that, you just finished jumping to the latest The Weekend hit and just need a good sip of an ice cold beer. What do you do? Touch the scanner on your fridge and grab a bottle. Then you see at the people storming the beer tent to get a drink and you’re grateful that Heineken is so awesome to give you this awesome opportunity to grab booze in just a few seconds.

What we can learn from this example is how Heineken analyze the real needs of their target group and immediately address them. This way customers can see the care they get from the Coachella sponsors and remember them for a longer time.

Essential #4 Don’t just go for an alcohol sponsorship for events, become an event

Beer serving tents, well equipped and ready to serve thousands of festivalgoers, is a must if you go for a beer sponsorship at events, that’s an obvious must-have. However, Heineken as one of the Open’er Festival and Coachella sponsors is going one step further.

The brand year by year installs a branded tent with the purpose to become one of the add-ons to the general Festival hype. During the festival, they transform them into yet another music temple. Thanks to the top class DJs and famous artists invited to perform in the brand’s stage they often become one of the main places to be when the main stages lack your favorite artists.

At the Coachella, Heineken tent became an experience itself. Worth to remember, full in attractions, a true point to check out while wandering around the Festival space. The same applies to the Open’er Festival where Heineken’s tent gathers thousands of people who want to dive deep into deep house rhythms and listen to the best DJs. Believe me, the spots are full at every hour, connecting attendees with the brand. Just look at the Opener’s recap, what a party!

In its tents, Heineken provides not only unique music experiences. It’s also about their specialty products.

Essential #5 Unique products for the unique event

In 2014, Heineken decided to beat other liquor companies that sponsor events, going even further with its proposition. The uniqueness of the attendees’ experience was brought to a new, really tasteful I must say, level.


They opened the exclusive Word Fusion Bar. As the name might suggest the drinks served in the bar were far from the regular Heineken beer in the green bottle. Instead, they served beers infused with lemongrass, mint and chili pepper. While the flavors have already been marketed in a couple of countries the USA consumers had the very first chance to taste those crazy variations of a beer at the Coachella. This way Heineken created a feeling of exclusiveness and uniqueness in the festivalgoers. They have a pleasure to be the first one to try the tastes in the United States.

Similar to the World Fusion Bar, Heineken in Poland opened Specialty Area at the Open’er Festival (Strefa Specjalności in polish). Guests had a chance to try exquisite beer options such as stouts and many flavored beers. Following this example, when you thinking about engaging sponsorship for events think about spicing up your products and adding something just for the attendees. Feel inspired and take a look at Opener’s Specialty Area:

Essential #6 The power of social media

Heineken has won the hearts of Millennials attending the Coachella fields by reaching for one of their favorite communication channels – SnapChat. They noticed that their target group – young adults who drink beer spend the majority of their time on smartphones. As result, they created the first beer brand’s SnapChat account where they posted hints regarding artists that were about to perform at the Heineken Stage during the Festival. For example, the piano was a hint for Billy Joel. When the followers guessed correctly, they got more exclusive info about the artists’ agenda for the festival. That’s an excellent example of how to approach the always-with-the-nose-in-the-phone target. Good one Heineken!

Heineken became a sponsor of the Coachella many years ago. The ways that brand was making an impact on the Festival structure and its agenda changed over the years. They put a lot of resources, not only financial but also human, to keep cooperation on the highest level of attendees engagement. However, what really stands out from way Heineken do it is the constant analysis of their target group. They use the profits of implementing experiential marketing and beer sponsorship and, as not every one of Coachella sponsors, follow the changes of festivalgoers preferences to be able more efficiently improve their experiences at the event and better fall into their memory.

Wrap up

Experiential marketing is becoming one and truly effective method while dealing with banner blinded customers. One of the industries that can earn a lot by sponsoring live events with a global image, like Coachella, is the brewing manufacturers.

Beer sponsorship at festivals has a chance to be extremely effective in positioning the brand’s image and advertising it to the wide audience because it provides direct access to many prospects. Also, the promotional activities are carried in an already positive atmosphere that will later contribute to good connotations with the company.

Heineken noticed the chance to boost the brand’s image by providing unforgettable experiences that would fit the festival spirit of attendees. They ensure that Heineken branded attractions will give festivalgoers additional fun and make their festival life easier. As a result, the brand reached a worldwide audience that had a chance to see the positive and proactive face of the top brewing company.

What do you think about alcohol sponsorship for events?