StrategyInclusive marketingHow Desperados turned dance steps into DE&I donations

How Desperados turned dance steps into DE&I donations

"The party scene is consumed by younger people who are exploring, experimenting and having fun with parties. This generation is incredibly open to technology but is also highly engaged with inclusivity and diversity. An app that offers them both whilst they party is a win on three counts!"

Desperados’ ambition to deliver exceptional customer experiences for beer drinkers is only eclipsed by its commitment to diversity and inclusion. In the ‘Rave to Save’ campaign, the tequila-flavored beer brand acted on DE&I goals by gamifying the partygoing experience.

Having found 65% of people wanted a more inclusive party scene, Desperados committed to ensuring that 60% of the DJs it works with are female or LGBTQ+. Moreover, it developed an app that rewarded partygoers for their steps and pledged €1 for every 100 steps danced to charities that champion DE&I.


Over 13 million steps later, Desperados has donated over €135,000 and counting. It has delivered on diversity and inclusion goals while brewing an exceptional customer experience for partygoers. Rutgers van der Stegen, Global Head of Desperados, breaks down each thread of the ‘Rave to Save’ initiative.

Improving DE&I on the decks

Desperados has a long-standing affinity with the party scene. It has traditionally seen the dancefloor as somewhere where people can be themselves, feel free from the judgment of others, and enjoy a drink in the process.

Understanding how the community truly feels

A recent piece of research conducted with Edelman to determine how its audience truly felt on the dancefloor showed a quite different reality:

  • 40% would go out more if the party scene was more inclusive
  • 65% of people would like to see the future of partying more diverse and inclusive
  • Over half of people would like to see more opportunities in the party scene for women (62%), ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community (54%)
  • Six in ten would like to see the party scene do more to support charities

Moreover, white male DJs dominate the festival and nightclub scenes. As a patron of the party, Desperados decided to act. It created experiences for its audience that gave them a more diverse and inclusive line-up and the chance to influence its charity support.

Amplifying and empowering female and LGBTQ+ DJs


Desperados has pledged that over 60% of the DJs it partners with will be female or LGBTQ+. It kicked off a series of 10 parties by holding a launch event in Ibiza for its new ‘Rave to Save’ app with DJs such as Peggy Gou.  At each of these parties, ravers could use the ‘Rave to Save App’ to track their steps. Desperados pledged €1 for every 100 steps danced to charities that support DE&I. Rutger describes how Desperados selected the DJs and the charities.

“When we influenced the line-up, we could select DJs who represented a diverse and inclusive background. We were proud to partner with DJs such as Peggy Gou, Pxssy Palace, Cici, Manda Moor, and Absolute, who stand for underrepresented communities in the party scene.”

“We also wanted to work with charities that had relevance in Europe and who raise awareness, educate, and support women and LGBTQ+ empowerment. Women in Music and Stonewall are two fantastic charities that fit the brief. We knew we could trust them to use the funds to advance the awareness, equality, diversity, and opportunities of women and the LGBTQ+ community worldwide”

So far this year, Desperados has already donated over €135,000 and given a platform to DJs overlooked due to biases within the music industry. With future events to come, this is just the start. Indeed, Desperados has guaranteed it will donate up to €200,000 in 2022 alongside the pledge for representation.

Consistent and intentional DE&I planning matters

Brand commitment to DE&I is not achieved through one campaign or event, even if it is as impactful as the ‘Rave to Save’ parties. Desperados are fully aware of this and see this initiative as an ongoing commitment.

Indeed, it has already learned from some of the structural challenges it has faced in ensuring DJs from female and LGBTQ+ backgrounds are widely represented.

“When we have control over the line-ups, we can follow through on our commitments. But when we are working with external festivals, we must start working with the organizers earlier in the process. Otherwise, we cannot guarantee our targets for DE&I are met. Underrepresented DJs miss out and that isn’t good enough. It’s a work in progress, but that is our North Star.”

By doing so, Desperados can influence not only its events but also the line-ups of other festivals, making a far greater impact on the party-going community. A true commitment to diversity and inclusion means consistently striving to be better, regardless of prior progress.

A gamified customer experience for Desperados drinkers

Desperados partygoers use the 'Rave to Save' app that turns dance steps into DE&I donations
Desperados’ partygoers use the ‘Rave to Save’ app

Delivering on DE&I is far too often said, rather than done. “Telling the world is easy but getting the world to do something is much harder,” states Rutger.

It often requires innovation that disrupts existing technology and practices for the greater good. Moreover, it benefits when it goes hand-in-hand with exceptional customer experiences.

This came in the form of the ‘Rave to Save’ app. The ‘Rave to Save’ app taps into the pedometer used by smartphones to measure how many dance moves the holder makes.

“We partnered with app developers and software developers who transformed the existing tool into something that works as an app for our consumers. WE ARE Pi, Jack Morton, and Robot Kitten all helped design and develop the app.”

“Each dance step transformed into a monetary value. As well as the charity donation we wanted to engage customers by giving them more tangible rewards to incentivize as much movement as possible.”

Firstly, customers could win individual rewards such as a free beer (Desperados, of course), VIP upgrades, tickets, and more. Secondly, in the spirit of inclusivity, it also offered dancers the chance to win rewards as a group. These ranged from confetti shows to afterparty experiences.

This gamification created a fun and compelling short-term experience for Desperados drinkers but also created a community effort to tackle the DE&I concerns identified before the campaign.

Targeting the right audience

Gamification taps into the heart of Gen Z and millennial audiences who thrive on unique experiences supported by emerging technology. Rutger explains why the gamified approach resonated so highly with Desperados drinkers.

“The party scene is consumed by younger people who are exploring, experimenting and having fun with parties. This generation is incredibly open to technology but is also highly engaged with inclusivity and diversity. An app that offers them both whilst they party is a win on three counts!”

It also personalized the rewards for each party. Whilst basic rewards like free merchandising remained the same, bigger impact group rewards were tailored to each location.”

“In Belgium, for example, we had a huge floating statue over the crowds. At other events, the entertainers might come into the crowd. Each time had its peak moment for the dancers to work towards with every step.”

Localizing the reward scheme for each party enhanced the feeling of a unique experience, encouraging dancers to download the app and dance for a personalized reward.

Giving the stage to underrepresented artists

As well as setting a benchmark for representation amongst DJs for the event, Desperados also measured KPIs around the use of the app. More downloads meant more engagement with the app. More engagement means more steps. And more steps meant more donations!

“While we are still waiting to see the impact on brand uplift, it was most important for us to see a great donation to our selected charities. So, we looked at engagement with the app. On average people spent eight minutes on the app.”

“With people showing that level of engagement with the app, it is no surprise to see steps in the millions. Over 13 million steps so far. We have been able to give over €135,000 to our charities. And that’s not the final number, we still have events.”

Desperados has achieved these staggering numbers by sticking closely to its other ambition of amplifying DE&I through the DJs it works with.

Peggy Gou headlines at Desperado's Rave to Save event
Desperados’ partners with Peggy Gou as part of its pledge to work with over 60% LGBTQ+ and female DJs

Giving DJs such as Peggy Gou a platform to perform amplified underrepresented voices in the music industry. As such, to promote the different parties, Desperados wanted to make sure each DJ communicated with their audience. Moreover, it was a chance for partners running the live events to place the spotlight on these artists.

This directly targeted the community of partygoers who wanted greater representation and inclusivity in the party scene. Each DJ asked their followers to download the app if they were attending. “They are the most powerful spokespeople,” explained Rutger. Indeed, as inherent champions of DE&I within the music industry, they were perfectly placed to drive traffic toward the application.

Dance on: Desperados’ ongoing DE&I commitment

Careful organization will help with the logistical planning for future events.

“Including the festival organizers early on will allow us to deliver a better customer experience. For example, we couldn’t have wristbands with color settings showing the rewards you were winning at every single location. Even being able to collect them at the end of the night matters for our sustainability goals.”

Desperados also realized the importance of mixing individual rewards and group rewards to make sure the app is engaging for all types of ravers. Balance is key to ensuring the customer has the most elevated experience possible. Rutger also highlighted the need for simple messaging.

“Gamifying a party so dancers have fun, and dancing for charities are both important. Dealing with these two topics simultaneously brings a layer of complexity. We want to be clear downloading the app helps them make a positive contribution. But the rewards keep them engaged for an even greater cause than a free beer or after-party experience.”

Desperados has clear ambitions to improve the experiential arm of its marketing strategy, as well as to continue its support of female, LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented communities. We’ll raise a drink to that.


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