When It Comes To Live Experience, Has Instagram Become The Event Itself?

So I went to the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic this weekend and by far THE MOST INTERESTING thing about it to me was that it was 90% about Instagram (and like 2% about polo). Everything (I mean EVERYTHING) was Instagrammable. The Veuve champagne carrying cases, the chic orange bags, the displays and Instagram stations that ppl were waiting in line in for HOURS to take IG photos in front of. Even our giant Jenga tower got knocked over by an Instagrammer trying to pose with one of our perfectly millennial pink blocks.

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[Outfit deets below]

Now, obvi I love Instagram. It’s a huge part of my business. Plus, it’s great for forming and maintaining relationships… & it’s just fun. But any of my friends will tell you I NEVER have my phone out while we’re hanging out. I’m present and in the moment (that’s why I’m so slow with texts too SRY PPL). I thought the Veuve event would be all about socializing with friends, but it was essentially a circus of perfectly curated photo opps. It’s genius for Veuve’s brand – they’re getting BEAUTIFUL free user-generated advertising content (just check out the hashtag #veuveclicquotpoloclassic) – it gets them thousands of influential people boasting the Veuve brand to anyone with a phone… for free.

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I refused to wait in any lines for any of the “official” Instagram experiences, but the Veuve brand was brilliantly part of every backdrop, so any photo you post – ppl would never have to guess whose event it was. Trust me, I can appreciate a well-styled IG pic (it’s part of my biz after all… & I just had to get a pic with these well-clad lads above I mean they fit my aesthetic perfectly). But this pic took 30sec and then I put my phone away. Bc I wanted to enjoy and experience and my friends and the EVENT.

And then I realized… taking photos WAS the event.

I wondered what the girl awkwardly gazing at her own shoulder swaying her hair back and forth for 10min in front of a halo of Veuve orange Hawaiian flowers thought she was doing at the event. When her friends texted her and asked what was she was up to that day did she say, “I’m at the Veuve Polo Classic” or “I’m Instagramming?” Is there a difference?

Instagram is becoming the event itself

It’s apparent that live events (sports, music, festivals) are less about the EXPERIENCE than they once were, & more about the shareable engagements. So much so that entire businesses are popping up (like The Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, and 29 Rooms) for the explicit purpose of creating the ideal shareable moment in a dream-like room w optimal lighting. Events are a business like everything else, and consumer-generated content is fantastic for brand-building. I expect the future of events to look a lot more like The Museum of Ice Cream.

How much do we want this “made-for-Instagram” culture experience to dominate our world? Do you see the ideal IG backdrop as advertising, or as art? (Btw, top artists are paid big money to design these branded selfie experiences for you!) I see it as art, but not as mutually exclusive, and potentially detrimental to how we experience things IRL.

How does social media affect your event experience (pos or neg)? Is the event itself still the experience? Or is the experience the filtered image you post to your followers?

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