Ultra Music Festival is celebrating its 15th anniversary by expanding to two weekends, and liquor sponsor Heineken is responding in kind. This year, the brand is debuting the Heineken House, a first-of-its-kind activation that extends Ultra’s audiovisual experience to the drink line.
“We know that getting in line for beer and being pulled away from the festival itself is something that people don’t want to do,” explains Leanne Maciel, Heineken USA’s Manager of Sponsorships and Activation. “So we said, ‘’How can we keep them connected?'”
The answer? An indoor space designed with the sensory experience of Ultra in mind, one that not only features elaborate lighting and fog but live audio from the nearby UMF Worldwide stage as well. The space features a slate of iPads at the entryway, on which consumers can order their drinks while watching live visual feeds from each stage.
After paying, consumers are escorted by hosts into a cavernous, club-like space where they can pick up their drinks and take in that moment’s DJ set. “It feels like a nightclub,” says Maciel. “But you can see what’s going on.”
From the main Heineken House area, guests can either return to the festival grounds or step out onto a porch that overlooks the UMF Worldwide Stage. Unlike the brand’s previous VIP spaces at Ultra, the Heineken House and porch are open to all festival guests over 21.
“We have so much experience with festivals,” Maciel says of Heineken’s involvement in the music space. “We’ve been doing Coachella for a number of years, we’ve been doing Ultra for six years now. Our consumers are always looking for something new and cutting-edge, over and above what’s out there.”
She explains that the idea for the Heineken House’s immersive experience came from simply talking to consumers about their festival experiences. “It’s always the guy in the group who draws the short straw, goes to get everyone beer and misses everything,” she says. “With this activation, we’ve transformed the beer line into the festival destination.”