Top Activations From Austin City Limits 2022 (2023)

Top Activations From Austin City Limits 2022 (1)This year Austin City Limits welcomed 75,000 festivalgoers for its first weekend.Photo: Roger HoAUSTIN, TEXAS—Austin City Limits, the city’s biggest music festival, returned this month for two weekends, Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 14-16, at Zilker Park. The festival felt bigger this year compared to its 2021 iteration, with more attendees and brand activations during the first weekend. A total of 75,000 attendees saw headliners like The Chicks, Pink, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lil Nas X, and Kacey Musgraves.

To ensure the city’s biggest park remains intact, the festival’s parent company, C3 Presents, partners with the Austin Parks Foundation, and portions of all festival ticket sales go back into city parks. There’s also the Rock & Recycle program, where attendees are encouraged to fill up bags of recyclable cans and beverage containers for a special ACL T-shirt.

Elsewhere throughout the sprawling grounds, brands and sponsors like American Express, Hulu, and Coke offered everything they could to provide unique and needed experiences for attendees, from glam stations and giveaways to photo ops and collectible art NFTs to shaded areas and air-conditioned spaces as a reprieve from the high outdoor temps.

Keep scrolling to see how brands attracted attendees during this year’s ACL...

American Express Experience

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The credit card brand brought back its usual two-story activation for ACL this year (after taking a pause in 2020) in its role as the headliner stage sponsor. The space was produced by Live Nation and coordinated with Momentum. The first level, open to the public, offered several areas of engagement: Austin ice cream truck Besame provided free ice cream scoops, and festivalgoers could visit a phone charm station with Texas-shaped trinkets and brand-colored beads.

Photo: Matthew Niemann

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The second level of AmEx's main ground lounge was open to card members. There was an indoor space with air-conditioning, lounge-style seating, phone-charging stations in the shape of tambourines, and a patio offering spot-on views of the headlining stage.

Photo: Matthew Niemann

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The second level also offered a glam station in partnership with makeup company Half Magic with work done by Missionstyle House, and a bucket hat chain-stitching station. Other AmEx perks for customers included access to the fast lane for the merchandise store.

Photo: Matthew Niemann

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And for the first time, American Express offered NFTs for ACL. The card company partnered with local artist Zuzu to offer daily artwork accessible through email or a QR code at the lounge. Zuzu also painted the mural on the ground level of the lounge.

Photo: Matthew Niemann

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The physical space was anchored by an extravagant two-story tree structure made out of cardboard and fake green plants. The truck of the tree on the ground level opened into a photo op with a swing. One side of the top of the tree served as the backdrop of the bar area, and the other side is part of the alfresco patio decor.

Photo: Matthew Niemann

The Hulu Motel

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Hulu became ACL’s steaming partner this year for the first time, livestreaming select performances over the weekend. The company also set up its Hulu Motel activation, produced by Live Nation, which was an enclosed space with air-conditioning, seating, and drinks set up in a retro-style enclosure with faux wood paneling and concert-style posters. In keeping with the motel theme, the entryway featured branded motel
keychains, and the outside area featured a luggage cart setup with green suitcases and branded stickers.

Photo: Brittany Hallberg

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The Hulu activation also included international-mailable postcards featuring artwork from the facade of the space. People were encouraged to write their own postcards and mail them from the space.

Photo: Brittany Hallberg

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Attendees could play with the Hulu vending machine, which popped out short poster tubes full of goodies like koozies, fans, sunglasses, and portable phone chargers in snack-bar packaging.

Photo: Brittany Hallberg

Austin Kiddie Limits by Lifeway

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This kid-centric corner of the ACL grounds returned this year, after a pause in 2021 due to COVID measures. The family-friendly activation was produced by C3 and smoothie brand Lifeway Kefir’s in-house team.

Photo: Courtesy of Lifeway

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Family-friendly activations included a Love Your Futs mural created by Chicago artist Shawn Smith at Shawnimals, samples of the brand’s drinks, beaded keychains and button stations, and a song creation area.

Photo: Courtesy of Lifeway

BMI's ACL Lounge

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Music company Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) sponsored a stage at ACL, where it promoted its artists such as Aly & AJ (pictured), Sarah and the Sundays, and girlhouse.

Photo: Erika Goldring

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Artists, including Sarah and the Sundays (pictured), were also encouraged to sign BMI-ACL posters.

Photo: Erika Goldring

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Likewise, there was an accompanying side lounge accessible to artists and guests, featuring seating by furniture company Panacea Collective; fringe steamer decor by Color Condition; as well as drinks, food, and shade. Indie rock band Darkbird (pictured) posed for a photo inside the lounge.

Photo: Erika Goldring

ACL VIP Lounge with Hendrick’s Gin

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ACL’s VIP lounge was full of brand activation corners that were mainly alcohol-based. Hendrick's Gin created what it called the "Sound Garden" with creative agency Momentum, full of garden party furniture, red roses and greenery, shaped topiaries, and a bar. Other partners included Bulleit, Don Julio, Waterloo Sparkling Water, KREWE, Bryt Wines, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Tito's Handmade Vodka Stardust Experience

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Speaking of Tito's... The Austin-based vodka brand set up the Tito’s Stardust Experience, produced and organized by its internal national events team and created by Department of Wonder. The public space offered custom dog tags, yard games, and a history of the company as part of its 25th anniversary. People were also able to win entry into a Tito's exclusive lounge.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

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The Austin vodka-based company also set up the Stillhouse Lounge on the side of its main stage, where people could partake in Tito’s-based cocktails, lounge around the orange-themed space with vodka bottle chandeliers and hanging disco balls, and take advantage of the salon with massages, hair styling, and tattoos. The decor was created by Panacea Collective.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

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Tito’s also chose to partner with and highlight the Austin nonprofit Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action (DAWA) in its lounge. One hundred percent of the $25 sales of a custom screen-printed-on-the-spot T-shirt featuring Tito’s went to the nonprofit, which also had a stand to share information about the organization.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Snapchat's AR Compass

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In partnership with C3 and Live Nation, social media app Snapchat built out an entire augmented reality map of the festival created by its in-house creative studio, Arcadia. The AR Compass, accessible via the mobile application, allows users to navigate the festival, from stages to food vendors to water. There’s also the bitmoji pin component, allowing users to pinpoint where exactly they are at the festival, which is a private service. There’s the opt-in Friend FindAR that allows friends to find each other. Then there’s the shareable festival planner, where people can put together their music schedule and share it with their Snapchat friends.

Photo: Courtesy of Snapchat

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For an in-real-life activation of the mobile app, Snapchat, with Live Nation, constructed a 23-foot-tall structure dubbed Giant Snapchat AR Mirror. People could pose for a photo of themselves reflected on a giant screen, which was then available for download via a QR code or email.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

Wrangler's On-Site Shop

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The denim brand built out an on-site shop for ACL, produced by Live Nation. On sale were jeans, shirts, and jackets, with the option to get those items laser customized on-site. The brand also gave away a limited amount of Wrangler- and Texas-themed pins.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

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One corner of the lounge included seating made up of denim clothing patches.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

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Outside of the lounge was a sequin-studded truck created by Oddball Kustom Garage as a photo op for passersby.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

The Coke Studio

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The soda company’s ACL activation was produced by the creative agency 160over90. The Coke Studio featured an interactive music studio with actions that created beats and noises (including the hiss of a Coke can opening) through twistable knobs, a spinning carousel, and movable swings.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury

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This year Austin City Limits welcomed 75,000 festivalgoers for its first weekend.

Photo: Roger Ho

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