BMW i Road to Coachella 2018



How do you expand upon a millennial-driven narrative surrounding a festival sponsorship and create an authentic dialogue that stays true to BMW i and Coachella cultures, while transforming a local sponsorship into international buzz?


Coachella has long been one of the largest music festivals in the world and a hotbed of fresh, sustainable, and progressive ideas. As an official partner of Coachella for the second consecutive year, BMW i continued to explore new experiential platforms in presenting the Road to Coachella, a campaign that seamlessly blends music, inspired design, technology, sustainable mobility, and the journey that fans and artists take on their own road to Coachella. Last year, our campaign introduced BMW i into the fabric of Coachella while this year, BMW i returned to the desert with a larger and more expansive social media, digital influencer, and live event experience to further drive the BMW i conversation. Coachella is the physical embodiment of youthful joy, sustainability, and innovation which are core values of BMW.



The campaign focused on the following:

  • Create an organic relationship with a Coachella headliner
  • Create an authentic conversation between BMW i and the Coachella audience
  • Seamlessly integrate the BMW i vehicle fleet into the campaign
  • Create shareable original content that Coachella, the artists, and Coachella fans will share
  • Partner with influencers to expand the reach from a localized event to an international campaign
  • Create live experiences that drive online conversation
  • Integrated campaign that generates earned impressions and media buzz
  • Editorial content featured on and official BMW social media accounts



Building off last year’s inaugural Road to Coachella campaign, we focused the 2018 campaign on a robust online and offline creative strategy targeting Coachella-goers and millennials, highlighting BMW and Coachella’s shared values of youthful joy, innovation, and sustainability. Each element of the campaign seamlessly weaved these core values into the messaging. This first-of-its-kind campaign for Coachella forged an authentic partnership between a presenting festival partner, the festival itself, a headlining performer, over two-dozen influencers and celebrities, a nightlife partner, and several leading musical acts to create a wide-reaching campaign using an array of media including digital, original content, sponsorship, and live events.

The strategy included:

  • Social media posts
  • Influencer content
  • User-generated content
  • Original content released by partners’ official social media channels
  • Original artwork
  • Unique on-site art installations
  • Original merch

The cohesive strategy seamlessly tied each of the campaign elements together to create a holistic marketing strategy to reach over a billion earned media impressions. We engaged with the target demographic through multiple touch points turning a local sponsorship into an international story.


The goal of our social media strategy was for millennials around the world to see the campaign on the top of their Instagram feeds from multiple sources. Coachella is truly a unique festival due to its location. Whether you’re a headlining performer, a celebrity, influencer, or you’ve saved every last dollar to pitch a tent in the desert, everyone takes the same road into Coachella. We focused on creating a campaign that highlights how people prepare for their journey to Coachella by teaming up with musicians, influencers, celebrities, and festival performers to share their Road to Coachella stories and create an immersive event at the end of their journey.

This year’s Road to Coachella focused on a creative partnership with John Gourley of the Grammy-winning multi-platinum group Portugal. The Man; one of the most anticipated performers at the iconic festival. Gourley, an accomplished graphic artist in addition to his role as the band’s lead singer, drew inspiration from Coachella and BMW i to create a custom one-of-a-kind design that was printed and wrapped on a fleet of BMW i’s for the Road to Coachella. In choosing a musical and artistic partner for the campaign, it was essential for the subject to embody the same values and characteristics that Coachella and BMW i share, including innovation, youthfulness, and sustainability. Gourley himself said that the i8’s unique design led him to use “bold lines and big, bright colors,” into which he weaved characters and lyrics from some of Portugal. The Man’s biggest songs. The design also drew upon the colors of the desert sunset and the iconic imagery of Coachella’s palm trees. Upon its debut, it was clear that the design would seamlessly fit into Coachella’s desert paradise landscape and elicit a visceral response from millions of fans at the festival and internationally on social media.

Coachella announced BMW i’s return to the desert through a 30-second video that documented Gourley’s creative process and gave fans a tease of his finished design. A follow-up video debuted the design to the Coachella audience and featured Gourley’s reaction as the wrapped i8 and i3 were revealed. The piece also included footage of the wrapped cars on the road to Coachella. We created a narrative for our partnerships with Coachella, Portugal. The Man, and our collection of influencers to generate a whirlwind of buzz before, during, and after the campaign. Each of their respective official social media accounts posted about the campaign at the outset, which amplified exposure exponentially. This encouraged user-generated content from tens of thousands of fans who shared their own Road to Coachella journeys. The social campaign allowed for a localized event to reach hundreds of millions of people internationally.



The road to Coachella is different for everybody, whether playing or attending, and this unique campaign was the ultimate celebration of people coming together around a common love for music and art. In addition to John Gourley, the campaign enlisted 17 social media influencers from around the world who each embarked on their own Road to Coachella. Each influencer and celebrity drove one of the Gourley-wrapped i8s or i3s on their journey and created compelling original content from the road, at the festival, and at our series of sponsored events.  

We created a picturesque Road to Coachella route for influencers to follow consisting of a scavenger hunt of Instagrammable landmarks. Each of them drove one of the wrapped BMWs during their journey while sharing dozens of photos and videos at each landmark. One influencer even did a handstand on top of the car at a gorgeous desert location!

Once in the Coachella Valley, influencers were able to keep their BMW i’s for the joyride of a lifetime throughout the weekend. They were provided with VIP parking to the festival as well as an on-demand BMW shuttle that would transport them between their hotel, the festival grounds, and the sponsored events.  Some of our creators included:

– Paris Hilton
– Taylor Hill
– Jamie Chung
– Bryan Greenberg
– Kerby Jean-Raymond
– Nick Bateman
– Jenn Im
– Dorothy Wang
– Hans Zimmer
– Kellan Lutz
– Jack Baran
– Christopher Mason
– Olivia Karina
– Julie Sarinana
– Danielle Bernstein
– Farina Opoku
– Valentina Ferragni
– Luca Vezil
– Rommel Pacheco
– Eduardo Avila
– Christian Rijanto
– Liane Valenzuela




To create a physical touch point beyond the digital realm, the campaign hosted two large events for influencers, celebrities, festival-goers, fans, and BMW owners bringing the core values of youthful joy, innovation, and sustainability to life. BMW i partnered with nightlife leaders the h.wood Group to present two of the weekend’s largest and most buzzworthy events: Poppy’s BMW i Powered Paradise on Friday night, and Poppy’s BMW i Recharge Oasis on Sunday afternoon. More than 6000 guests attended the exclusive parties, which took place at a sprawling estate just blocks away from Coachella.


At both events, we integrated several unique elements to create shareable moments while further amplifying the guest experience. Guests were treated to a custom-curated BMW i lounge as well as several unique BMW i activations:

    • Wrapped Display Vehicles – Upon entering the property, guests were greeted with a fleet of Gourley-wrapped BMW i display vehicles they could climb into for the perfect shareable photo.


    • BMW i3 Neon Flex Installation – The BMW i3 neon flex car was a unique integration of 3D art mixed with light technology. This BMW i3 frame was made completely of neon flex lighting, matching the vibe and aesthetic of Coachella for which the festival is known. The bright frame lit up the night and put a new spin on a traditional car display, giving attendees a unique shareable photo opportunity.   


  • Neon Video Booth – Adjacent to the main stage, a large interactive neon video booth experience with the brand new BMW i8 Roadster gave guests a chance to create their own instantly shareable content. With the help of OM Digital technology, the BMW video booth allowed attendees to create their own unique and shareable music video in a custom branded enclosure. The 16’x20′ space housed a wrapped BMW i8 Roadster that acted as the focal point for each video. The lustrous black space was adorned with neon flex lighting all along its interior, coupled with beautiful LED lit foliage, presenting a sleek and stunning setting for the video content. The video booth took a mundane, run-of-the-mill event photo booth and turned it into an exciting experience that had VIP guests and celebrities alike lining up to share, from Paris Hilton to Taylor Hill. The high-end technology allowed people to create and instantly share a special moment where they were the stars of the show.
  • Branded Holograms – Floating atop the video booth structure were two BMW and BMW i branded 3D spinning holograms that added another unique photo-worthy element to the activation.

  • Claw Machine with Branded Swag – A BMW-branded claw machine housed custom bandanas designed by John Gourley, which were seen on guests on both weekends throughout Coachella. This original merchandise, created solely for distribution at the sponsored event, was based on Gourley’s vehicle wrap design and grew to be a highly-coveted piece of swag for celebs, influencers, and guests alike. Four lucky winners clawed their way to a hidden BMW i8 key in a bandana, giving them an extended weekend test drive of the all-new BMW i8 Roadster.

The star-studded events featured performances by Diplo, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, and Post Malone, and featured a wide array of A-list attendees and BMW influencers, including:

  • Kylie and Kendall Jenner
  • Kourtney Kardashian
  • Rihanna
  • Gigi and Bella Hadid
  • The Weeknd
  • Demi Lovato
  • Paris Hilton
  • Kellan Lutz

We continued the influencer campaign by hosting our Road to Coachella influencers at the events as well as engaging with over two dozen additional creators who joined and shared BMW-centric original content on-location. This helped guarantee significant buzz and social reach.



The campaign’s media reach crossed over multiple genres, including automotive, music, art, and entertainment, garnering hundreds-of-millions of media impressions.

BMW i exceeded expectations by gaining over 882 million earned media impressions over the two-week campaign, with 1.1 billion impressions stemming from the BMW i parties, all without a single dollar spent on paid media.

Overall Performance Summary:
– 35M: Total organic reach via influencer channels
– 2.3M: Total engagement on influencer channels
– 8.3M: Total organic reach via BMW i channels
– 517K: Total engagement on BMW & BMW i channels
– 200% above average growth on BMW i Instagram channel
– The BMW neon video booth generated over 100,000 impressions from celebs, influencers, and attendees sharing the content
– Instagram was by far the most effective channel for brand posts, with around 5x more impressions and 3-6x more engagements
– Campaign was exceptionally well-received, with 100% of comments being positive

Ultimately, the Road to Coachella was able to reach hundreds of millions of people in BMW’s target demographic and make a lasting, authentic, and meaningful impression on Coachella fans.