Coachella, the popular Californian music festival taking place this weekend with a fierce headliner in Beyoncé, is known for fiercely protecting its trademark.
As the Los Angeles Times notes, “A few weeks before this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, the Palm Desert Whole Foods announced an upcoming concert and tasting event that it dubbed Wholechella.” It was forced to rebrand the event, just as rapper and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs was “forced to change the name of his upcoming Bermuda Dunes bash from Combschella to Combs Fest.”
Like rap festival Hoodchella and movie festival Filmchella before them, Coachella parent Goldenvoice will shut down any attempts at ‘chella branding. As Goldenvoice attorneys argued in one complaint, Coachella’s trademarks “are highly distinctive, famous, and serve uniquely to identify [Goldenvoice’s] products and services.” Through the festival’s success and ubiquity, it continues, “these marks have become assets of incalculable value as symbols of [Goldenvoice’s] products and services.”
The same is true of other distinctively named festivals such as Lollapalooza. When the alcohol brand Four Loko sought to introduce a drink called Lokopalooza, Lollapalooza successfully prevented it. Festivals that attach “palooza” to their names may also hear from Lollapalooza’s lawyers.
The one brand it won’t shut down for -chella branding—Beyoncé, whose phenomenal performance on Saturday night quickly created the #beychella meme on social media and was endorsed by the festival organizers. Making history as the first black woman to headline Coachella, Beyoncé is perhaps the only powerhouse brand its organizers will allow to say—or adapt—its name, with “Beychella” emblazoned over images on her website and social media channels.
Introducing some new branding of her own, her performance evoked an HBCU pep rally, the system of Historically Black College and Universities in the U.S.Beyoncé’s five costume changes of outfits by Balmain (and even a nail color change) were impressive, to say the least.
As the Washington Post noted, “Beyoncé had basically created her own HBCU: the University of Beyoncé. The school colors: yellow and black (the yellow, a theme from her album Lemonade, is also the color of her Beyhive horde of fans). The fraternity brothers’ clothes bore the same Greek letters as Beyoncé’s cropped sweatshirt: BDK, or Beta Delta Kappa,” with the B for Beyoncé and the K for Knowles.
“She had reimagined some of her biggest hits as marching-band renditions that could upstage any HBCU halftime show (the backing musicians included former members of Florida A&M University’s band, and the drum line was formally introduced as the only one presented by ‘Queen Bey’ and ‘guaranteed to show up and show out.’) There was elaborate step-dancing (and swag surfing). There was even a mock probate, a coming-out ceremony for Greeks at HBCUs.”