Lady Gaga to Headline Stubb's at SXSW

Lady Gaga

Inez & Vinoodh

Lady Gaga is heading to South By Southwest after all.

After reports last week that the singer was denied a permit to perform at the Doritos 56-foot vending machine-shaped #BoldStage on the corner of Austin’s 5th and Red River Streets, the "Artpop" singer is set to headline the outdoor stage at Stubb’s on March 13, which will become the temporary home of the #BoldStage that night.

The performance will be intimate by modern Gaga standards. Stubb’s has an average capacity of 2,200, while Gaga can fill arenas with crowds upwards of 18,000, so gaining entrance will be particularly tricky. That’s why Gaga and Doritos are tasking fans with performing a series of outlandish challenges, or "Bold Missions," set to be revealed on Doritos.com (and Doritos’ social pages) in the days leading up to the March 13 performance. In a YouTube video unveiling the campaign that debuted Thursday morning, Gaga announced the first Bold Mission.

"We’re calling it Bold Bravery. I want you to share a picture or a video that expresses your individuality through a bold action. What bold thing have you done that makes you stand out?”

Gaga added in an exclusive statement to Billboard, “I hope everyday to inspire my fans to follow their dreams, hold their talents precious and go for it. Doritos is supporting this same message. I always say, ‘I hope to spread love with every invention,’ and I’m excited to see how the crowd at SXSW will spread their own mantras.”

For entry to the Gaga show, SXSW Music and Platinum badge-holders and attendees with Artist Wristbands will be asked to perform their own Bold Missions at the Austin Convention Center on March 11 and March 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. Those who complete the challenges will have their credentials scanned and entered into a drawing for tickets to Gaga’s performance. Randomly selected winners will be notified via email no less than 12 hours before the show. More details are here.

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Since its opening in 2012, the Doritos stage has represented the highpoint or the nadir of branding at SXSW for the last two years, depending on whom you ask. Either way, it’s worked for the company in making a splashy introduction of its Doritos Bold flavors to the market, and also set a high bar for the tortilla-chip makers to top their own antics -- previous performers have included Snoop Dogg and LL Cool.

“As a brand at PepsiCo, marketers don’t like to do the same thing year after year by nature,” says Jeff Klein, Frito Lay’s senior director of marketing. “But this has been a successful initiative for us every year in terms of getting the brand narrative out there, whether it was Jacked chips in 2012 or launching the global campaign for Bold in 2013. This year we wanted to put a unique twist to remind people what the brand is about.”

Klein adds that the vending machine stage will take on even greater levels of functionality this year in its return to 5th and Red River on Friday and Saturday. That will include oversized chip bags that will be physically “vended” to attendees who can catch them.

“We’re also gonna give consumers control of the concert in terms of special effects,” Klein says. “There’ll be lasers, smoke machine and a few surprises up our sleeves as well.”

As for working with Gaga, who has only a handful of brand partnerships and corporate gigs to her name in her six-year-plus career as a pop star, Klein says the discussions with Gaga and her current management (ex-Atom Factory CMO Bobby Campbell) went more smoothly than anticipated.

“I took them through what the Doritos brand stood for, and they were quiet and I got very nervous,” Klein recalls. “And then someone finally said, ‘That’s awesome, this is a great fit, let’s see how we can make this work.’ It came together as a really nice story.”