Why Coke Launched a Proprietary ‘Sips & Sounds’ Music Festival in Austin

“We’re looking to use this investment and this event to help drive our business objectives. We’re really hoping to connect with consumers, locally, in this Texas market as a way to localize our national and global Coke music campaigns. We want to figure out how to make that more relevant to the fans and consumers, and while doing so, use this event as an asset, as a platform to engage other parts of the business like customers, retailers and our internal employees, as well.”

–Ryan Keen, Senior Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola

Coke_Sips and Sounds Festival_2023_stage performance

Sips & Sounds was designed to provide “different types of value” for multiple aspects of Coca-Cola’s business.

Coke’s roots in music run deep, from countless festival sponsorships and partnerships with legendary artists through the years, to the Coke Studio global music platform launched in 2022. Over the summer, the beverage giant added another notch to its belt: The Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Summer Festival, Amplified by Coke Studio. The proprietary event, held in July at the Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park in Austin, was designed to localize Coke’s national and global music campaigns to make them more relevant to the Texas consumer market, while simultaneously engaging other business targets, like retailers and customers.

The one-day festival was headlined by The Chainsmokers, with performances by Yungblud, Tate McRae, Latto, Gayle and Jake Wesley Rogers also on tap. The Moody Amphitheater’s 6,000-person venue was just the right fit for Coke, whose mission was to leverage the relatively intimate setting to make everyone feel like a VIP. And the brand made it happen, both during performances, and beyond the stage, with in-venue experiences and an accompanying street fest that included the Coca-Cola Food Truck Park, the Coca-Cola Ice House experience, Coke Studio and partner activations.

For attendees, a highlight of the festival was the newly launched Coke AI Studio activation. The artificial intelligence-powered experience transforms music fans into pop stars, and hit festivals like Gov Ball, Lollapalooza and Osheaga, in addition to Sips & Sounds, over the summer. Participants, as individuals or groups, could answer questions to inspire the AI’s creation of their unique “Real Stars” identity, which included their artist or band name, first track and album art. When it was time to hit the spotlight, the group was notified on their phones to move into the booth to make a custom, shareable music video, featuring a large LED wall behind the performers that displayed bespoke animated AI graphics, plus digital fog and pyrotechnic effects.

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Over in the Coca-Cola Food Truck Park, the brand showcased a handful of its customers, both around Texas and nationally: Companies like Raising Cane’s, Lupe Tortilla and others were on hand dishing out a variety of free foods that, naturally, all paired well with Coca-Cola. Official activation partners included McDonald’s, IHG Hotels & Resorts and iHeartRadio. Mickey D’s served up hot fries, plus Frozen Coke and Frozen Fanta Strawberry (a new flavor), from its giant McRig food truck. IHG catered to a selection of its loyalty program members, who could access an elevated festival experience on the exclusive IHG Hotel & Resorts Lawn, offering shaded seating in Adirondack chairs, complimentary beverages and other plus-ups. Finally, iHeartRadio provided a photo activation and distributed hand fans, in addition to creating a backstage studio that pumped out artist interviews and other relevant content.

Fans could also make their mark at the Coca-Cola Ink Studio, an engagement concept that was initially developed for Coke’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, and was brought back to life at the festival. Attendees could get temporary tatts via tattoo printer devices, with the option to select designs based on the artists performing, Coke Studio or Sips & Sounds. Rounding out festival touchpoints were myriad photo ops that changed throughout the day, including a mural and a marquee.

Also worth noting: Sustainability was a component of the strategy, and attendees were incentivized to recycle at designated stations. After trading in their plastic bottles, they were rewarded with tickets that could be exchanged for festival merch.

“It’s important to think about how these types of events can serve as a platform for deriving a lot of different types of value, whether that’s hosting customers through customer entertainment, building the brand directly with consumers or creating content,” says Ryan Keen, senior marketing manager at Coca-Cola. “So it’s not a one-off activation with a singular objective, like sampling numbers, but one that we look at as a platform to activate not just on-site, but in the lead-up to, and post-event, as well.” Agency: Momentum Worldwide.


More Scenes from the Sips & Sounds Summer Festival:

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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