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How Tecovas approaches events, from music festivals to professional bull riding

Tecovas, like many direct-to-consumer brands, grew up on performance marketing. Now, a big focus for the Western wear brand is reaching a broader group of shoppers through event sponsorships.

Tecovas, which got its start in 2015 selling cowboy boots, is zeroing in on music festivals and sporting events in particular. This year, Tecovas will be the first-ever official boot partner of the Stagecoach country music festival. Tecovas is also a sponsor of the Opry NextStage, an 11-month program designed to invest in emerging country music artists. For nearly two years, Tecovas has been the official western boot sponsor for the Austin Gamblers, a professional bullriding team, and has also been a sponsor at Circuit of the Americas, a motor racing track in Austin that has hosted Formula 1 races.

Many of these event sponsorships align with other efforts at Tecovas to reach new groups of shoppers. For example, Tecovas’ Stagecoach activation comes a year after the brand opened its first California store. Creating more organic content and upping social engagement is another big area of focus for the brand this year. As a result, Tecovas often thinks about ways it can tie these event sponsorships back to its website or social pages, such as by doing artist spotlights on its social media pages.

“As we are building the brand for a wider group of consumers, it’s been time to look at: where are they spending their time? And, how can we reach them in a more relationship-building way?” Gillian Kennedy, chief marketing officer at Tecovas said.

It’s boom time for Western wear right now, particularly after the release of BeyoncĂ©’s country album at the end of March. According to data from Trendalytics, there was a 400% increase in interest in cowboy hats leading up to the release of “Cowboy Carter,” compared to the same period a year ago. Building out its women’s collection has been another big area of focus for Tecovas, and the brand now sells items like dresses, jeans and sandals in addition to cowboy boots.

Kennedy said that when Tecovas approaches event sponsorships, “we are striving to bring newness into that conversation.” The Austin Gamblers bull riding team was only just created in 2022, for example, so Tecovas was able to be one of its first sponsors. As part of the sponsorship deal, the Tecovas logo and branding are featured on the Austin Gamblers’ uniforms, and the two organizations sell co-branded merchandise.

Tecovas also looks for unique ways to show up on the ground. At Stagecoach, Tecovas will have a boot bar where attendees can get boot embellishments and even branding done. The company’s public relations team “had to jump through all kinds of hoops” to get propane torches allowed onto the Stagecoach premises, Kennedy joked.

Marc Simons, the co-founder of agency Giant Spoon, said that it’s important for brands to think about how they can show up in unique ways at big events like music festivals or conferences, where dozens of brands might be doing sponsorships.

“Trying to do the thing that everyone ends up talking about at that festival is ultimately the goal,” he said. That could be a “visually crazy thing” that everyone wants to take a photograph he said, or providing something that many attendees at that conference end up needing, like hydration kits or a lounge to crash in.

When judging the success of these sponsorships, the number one metric for Tecovas is traffic Kennedy said. There are some ways that Tecovas very overtly ties these event sponsorships back to its website, such as by having a dedicated landing page where people can shop for music festival looks. Other times, the company focuses on driving engagement at its retail stores. Last year, the company put on a meet and greet with some of the members of the Austin Gamblers team at its store on South Congress.

Whenever Tecovas sponsors an event, “we want to make sure to always kind of talk through and align with our partners ahead of time and say, ‘OK how do we document this? How do we share it with all the people that couldn’t be there in person?;” Kennedy said.

Simons also advises that brands who do event sponsorships “save some budget for a content package… [because] that content is ultimately what many more — call it 100X people — are going to see,” compared to those who just came to the event.

For Tecovas, event sponsorships are all about reaching more people, especially as different groups of people start to express more interest in Western wear. “There is a broader conversation to be had about Western fashion,” Kennedy said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the description of the OpryNextStage. It is a program for emerging artists, not a stage at the Grand Ole Opry.