For the third year in a row, the BMW i #RoadtoCoachella campaign was crafted to seamlessly blend music, inspired design, technology, sustainable mobility, and the journey that fans and artists take on their own road to Coachella. After conceiving #RoadtoCoachella in 2017, which created an organic relationship between the namesake festival, a collection of main stage standouts including Hans Zimmer and Marshmello, and festival partner BMW i, we expanded that narrative in 2018 through an authentic partnership with Portugal. the Man and the h.wood Group. The 2019 campaign continued that legacy by shattering expectations with a robust creative strategy centered around festival performer, and global superstar, Khalid.
Our goal was to turn a localized sponsorship into an international story, making the mobility partner an active participant rather than a passive sponsor. BMW looked to achieve the following objectives with the continuation of this award-winning campaign:
- Rejuvenate the BMW brand and authentically interact with new audiences
- Establish an organic relationship with a Coachella headliner
- Create an authentic conversation between BMW i and the Coachella audience
- Incorporate original art
- Seamlessly integrate the BMW i fleet
- Partner with influencers to expand the reach from a localized event to an international campaign
- Create impressive live experiences that drive online conversation & content sharing
- Provide an integrated campaign generating earned impressions and media buzz
- Generate editorial content for BMW.com and BMW socials
Beginning with the inaugural 2017 #RoadtoCoachella campaign, our goal was to identify artist partners who would resonate with Coachella-goers and millennials in an authentic way while creating an organic relationship between the festival and BMW i. Previous artists included renowned composer (and first-time Coachella performer) Hans Zimmer, Marshmello, and John Gourley of Portugal. the Man.
For 2019, we partnered with RCA Records to identify Khalid as the ideal artist for Road to Coachella. At just 21 years old, Khalid was already a rising star and a much-anticipated act at Coachella, bolstered by his standout performance on Saturday Night Live a month before the festival. The campaign was centered around the release of his album Free Spirit, which debuted just days before his Coachella performance.
Over the course of our 2019 #RoadtoCoachella campaign, Khalid rose to become a global superstar, creating a wealth of communication opportunities for the BMW brand and #RoadtoCoachella. Khalid’s success further solidified the campaign’s track record for identifying standout performers well ahead of the festival.
- Free Spirit debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 selling over 200K equivalent albums
- Khalid hit #1 streaming artist on Spotify worldwide
- Khalid became one of five artists in history to reach 50M monthly Spotify listens
- Khalid became the first artist in history to occupy the top five spots on Billboard’s R&B
- Khalid was named as one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People
- 2 songs on Free Spirit, “Better” and “Talk” both hit #1
- From Free Spirit, “Better” is certified 3X platinum and “Talk” and “Saturday Nights” are each certified Platinum.
- The album has over 2.8 billion streams worldwide to date
The 2019 #RoadtoCoachella campaign launched several weeks before the festival with an announcement that Khalid was going to be 2019’s featured artist. Dozens of major news publications announced the partnership with a sneak peak of a custom Khalid BMW. Through our partnership with RCA Records, we were able to expand the campaign’s reach to include an iHeart Radio sweepstakes, offering two lucky fans a chance to join Khalid on the Road to Coachella in their own custom-wrapped BMW i8, complete with flights to Los Angeles, VIP festival passes, and a meet-and-greet. 139 stations in 23 markets shared the sweepstakes, which featured a personalized message from Khalid. The sweeps reached upwards of 75 million impressions and generated over 30,000 submissions nationwide.
Building on the legacy of the two previous campaigns, we seamlessly integrated the spirit of Khalid by taking elements of his art– already painted onto a van for his Free Spirit album cover–and using it to wrap a fleet of BMW i8 Roadsters. We digitized Khalid’s imagery and combined it with imagery from the Coachella poster and iconography reflecting key BMW elements. The entire piece was customized to complement the design of the i8 itself – adding motion and emphasizing the lines of the vehicle.
Through Khalid’s art, the wrapped BMW i depicted a day in the life at Coachella – illustrated from sunrise to sunset. This same story came to life on our custom Khalid bandanas, which were split down the middle with oranges and yellows representing daytime on one half, and stars, deep blues, and purples representing late nights, on the other. This design gave the person wearing the bandana a choice to select their look based on mood, time of day, or outfit.
The wrapped BMW i fleet made its way to and from the festival both weekends, piloted by a group of celebrity influencers who embraced their own “Free Spirit” on the road to Coachella. Our limited-edition bandanas were given to influencers and available to fans throughout the campaign, and were even donned by Khalid’s band during his mainstage performance at Coachella just before Ariana Grande.
Days before Khalid’s album was launched, Billboard and dozens of other worldwide media outlets released an original content piece debuting the Free Spirit art on the BMW i fleet. This video also featured an interview with Khalid about what his road to Coachella looks like, never-before-heard stories of his journey to become a “Free Spirit,” and the emotional role BMW has played in that special journey. The content piece was synced to his smash single, “Talk,” and gave fans an intimate look at the breakout artist. Coachella, BMW, Khalid, and RCA Records, among others, featured the video across their respective social media accounts.
The Road to Coachella has featured a prominent array of worldwide influencers each year to further the narrative and expand the reach of the campaign. To continue this legacy, in 2019 we partnered with over 30 influencers from around the globe by sending them on their own road to Coachella in a fleet of custom-wrapped Khalid BMW i8’s. Each influencer was hand-selected by BMW and Khalid to ensure every participant embodied the heart and soul of the brand, Khalid, and Coachella. The group even included some of Khalid’s friends from his recent theatrical release film. Influencers included Liza Koshy, Alisha Marie, Paris Hilton, and Ross Butler, among others, all of whom shared original photos and videos along the way, garnering tens-of-millions of impressions from festival and automotive fans alike.
For a select group of the influencers, BMW i went a step further. Their day began with a gourmet brunch, followed by a curated, Instagrammable road trip through Palm Springs.
International celebrity photographer and friend of the brand, Brooklyn Beckham joined the campaign to capture original content from Coachella and shoot Khalid with his custom BMW i8 Roadster. The content went viral across social media and celebrity media outlets around the world.
To create a touch point along the physical road to Coachella, we partnered with Khalid to build a unique pop-up experience during Weekend One of the festival. Against a backdrop of stunningly picturesque mountains, the event space featured a pop-up shipping container housing exclusive Khalid merchandise, the iconic van from his album cover, two BMW i vehicles wrapped in Khalid’s design, a TV displaying Khalid’s #RoadtoCoachella content, games, an album art photo opp, and a claw machine with custom Khalid x Road to Coachella bandanas that guests could win. Guests could then get their names printed on their custom bandanas at our on-site embroidery station. Attendees were also able to take advantage of a custom BMW x Khalid Snapchat filter, which contained key elements of the campaign’s design, including the color gradient, the wolf, and other Free Spirit imagery. Khalid, RCA, influencers, and BMW all posted about this exclusive pop-up, driving traffic online and onsite.
Khalid surprised fans by making an impromptu appearance at the Pit Stop to meet and take photos. During the visit, members of his management team at Right Hand and RCA Records surprised him with a champagne toast in the lobby of the BMW dealership to celebrate his album debuting at #1 on the Billboard Top 200.
A week prior to the festival, a billboard for Khalid’s Pit Stop was displayed along Interstate 10; the actual road to Coachella; and was seen by over 1.3 million people during its run.
The #RoadtoCoachella campaign exceeded expectations and reached new heights in its third year. Reaching over a billion people through social media, press, and marketing efforts, we further solidified the partnership between Coachella and BMW i and cemented the legacy of this exciting campaign. Dozens of celebrity publications featured stars and influencers seen in the wrapped BMW i, while entertainment press around the world covered Khalid and his meteoric rise during the campaign.
Through multiple facets, content from the campaign was consistently on the top of social media feeds. Whether the subject focus was celebrity, marketing, advertising, influencers, automotive, Coachella, event recaps, or music, we made sure BMW wasn’t just included in the conversation, but that it was the conversation.
The campaign generated impressive results of over 1 billion total impressions.
Through this campaign, we answered the question of how a brand can integrate into a music festival and create an organic open dialogue with its fans. Global outlets like Forbes and Billboard used the campaign as a case study of how brands should effectively engage with festival audiences. Following the success of each campaign, Hans Zimmer, Portugal the Man, and Khalid have all continued their relationship with BMW. Ultimately, BMW i took a localized sponsorship, and made an international legacy.