Summer festival season is in full swing, and with it comes large crowds, heavy foot traffic and potential exposure for partnering restaurant brands. A unique live-entertainment strategy can get consumers talking both on- and off-site, as Sonic showed with the square milkshakes it developed for Coachella last year. Here are some ways restaurant operators are leveraging this summer’s music festivals to reach potential customers, and amplifying that reach through social media.
1. Ramped-up branding
As the official sponsor of the 2017 Vans Warped Tour, Blaze Pizza has integrated itself into multiple aspects of the touring festival, including creating some selfie bait for attendees. Playing off the event’s punk rock persona, Blaze commissioned a custom skateboard ramp covered with its logo and stickers, on which festival-goers can pose for a photo atop a bolted-down skateboard.
The social angle: Fans can crop and rotate the on-ramp pictures on their phones to make it look like they’re doing skateboard tricks, then share the images on Instagram and Twitter for a chance to win free pizza from Blaze.
2. Multiple kinds of refreshment
Subway is getting attendees to try its sandwiches with the help of its traveling Green Room. Making stops at numerous large-scale music festivals, the branded room offers high-speed Wi-Fi and phone charging stations, wet wipes, sunscreen and other items to refresh sweaty music fans, along with exclusive performances and meet-and-greets with festival artists. As fans relax and hang out, they’re also able to try free mini Subway sandwiches.
The social angle: Patrons at major fests like Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., and NYC's Governors Ball have been lining up out the door to gain entry, and Subway has shared video and photos of fans enjoying its festival respite on its multiple social channels.
3. Creating buzz with unique LTOs
Gourmet food offerings are nothing new at big-name music festivals, but Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena, Calif., thought outside the box (or basket, in this case) with an exclusive limited-time offer fans quickly gobbled up. The festival, which debuted this year, partnered with a variety of well-known West Coast chefs, including Rory Herrmann of Barrel & Ashes and Neal Fraser of Redbird, to create bespoke picnic baskets.
Each basket included food for two, drink vouchers, picnic supplies and a few extra festival essentials. Menus ranged from fried achiote chicken thighs with grilled corn, cotija and mole verde to shwarma-spiced roasted maitake mushrooms with pea pesto and Israeli couscous. The baskets, only available at the fest, had to be reserved online during a limited period, with each basket selling for $100 to $120 plus fees. All of the chef-curated offerings sold out before the festival even began.
The social angle: The baskets garnered a lot of media attention thanks to their exclusivity. Local media promoted stories about them on social media, raising awareness about the LTOs (and the restaurants and chefs behind them) among a larger audience and drumming up extra buzz.