Austin City Limits began as a music series on TV, and has transformed into a three day, two weekend, music festival located at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. In its 17th year, ACL will feature artists such as Paul McCartney, Metallica, and Childish Gambino. With huge names headlining this festival, marketers within the festival must strategically position their brands to get the audience’s attention. ACL is the most attended festival in the United States with over 450,000 attendees every year, and this year’s weekend one is already sold out.
The brands that stand out at ACL are American Express, Miller Lite, Honda, and Tito’s (the Austin local). These brands own the rights to the stage names across the festival. These brands have also claimed selling rights; any beer purchased inside the festival will be Miller Lite, and any vodka drink will be Tito’s. This is a strategic approach because it puts these brands at the top of everyone’s minds throughout the course of the festival. These brands gain recognition with no extra effort from the brand marketers. The effect of this marketing can be seen through the Google searches during and shortly after the event. Marketers can track the number of times their brand appears in a Google search in the Austin area during ACL weekend.
Austin Parks Foundation is another partner with ACL. Austin Parks Foundation focuses on creating and sustaining an environmentally friendly festival. They do so by encouraging recycling, composting, and even replacing plastic water bottles with boxed water. In the weeks leading up to the festival, Austin Parks Foundation advertises their volunteer opportunities on Instagram. During the festival, they give festival goers bags to collect recyclables off the ground in exchange for a limited edition ACL t-shirt. In return, ACL donates a percentage of ticket funds back to the Austin Parks Foundation. These funds have been used throughout the city on projects like lawn restoration, tree care, and bike trails.
ACL is a non-camping festival. When the music stops, festival goers mosey through the streets of Austin back to their Airbnb’s or hotels. The massive waves of people leaving ACL provide a perfect place for guerrilla marketing. To be successful, marketers must satisfy any immediate needs these festival goers might have. Last year, Schlotzsky’s Deli, headquartered in Austin, handed out sandwiches if you signed up for the emailing list and participated in their attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most people to contribute to a paint-by-numbers mural. The marketing team planned this world record attempt in celebration of the company’s 46th birthday during ACL weekend one due to the large influx of people that would be passing by the Schlotzsky’s Deli. People lined up for blocks to receive a free sandwich and participate in the paint-by-numbers. While Schlotzsky’s Deli did not profit from this $40,000 venture, they left a memorable impression on festival goers long after the event.