As a major fan of live music, every summer I make plans to spend three days in Chicago’s Grant Park for the Lollapalooza music festival. The grounds are always packed, it typically feels like 100 degrees outside and the whole thing is a generally exhausting experience, but somehow I always manage to have a lot of fun. And that’s what keeps me going back. Part of the excitement each year lies in the anticipation while waiting for the lineup of bands to be announced a few months in advance of the festival. The official 2012 lineup came out today, but in the weeks leading up to the reveal this year Lollapalooza did something I thought was pretty cool and creative: they left clues around the city as a way to offer fans early information about some of the artists set to play while sparking additional buzz about the fest at the same time.
Showing up both online and around Chicago at various CTA el stations, the cryptic ads included just a song lyric with “#lolla” underneath. Here’s an example:
Anyone who recognized the line or did a bit of research would then be pretty safe to assume they’d be able to catch Bloc Party at the fest, since it was pulled from the band’s song “Signs.” A couple of the other ads spotted included the lines “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me” (from Jack White’s “Love Interruption”) and “I got a test for you” (from The Weekend’s “Initiation”). The clues didn’t lead people astray–all of these artists do appear in the official lineup.
In addition to dropping hints, the ads encouraged fans to speculate and discuss the potential lineup over social media with the #lolla tag. Lollapalooza has faced unsanctioned early lineup leaks every year since it was revived as an annual event in Chicago in 2005, but this is the first time I can remember the festival taking an active role in them. Instead of just sitting back while third party sources spread rumors, the marketers behind the fest helped to control some of the buzz by leaking their own information in a way that was beneficial to both them and their audience.
I have to admit, I’m still a little bitter that I wasn’t able to score Lolla’s nicely-priced secret sale tickets, but I have to give them credit for coming up with a fun way to engage fans and drum up some extra excitement this year. And as always, I’ll be gearing up for three long, crazy days of music and heat in Grant Park come early August.
For more on creative engagement, check out the Mobium eBook ‘The Age of Engagement,’ available for free download here.