Every spring Austin is taken over by thousands of people
from the music, film and interactive/digital world. People
come from all over the world to check out the latest trends
For the interactive festival most of the official action
happens around the Austin Convention Center with
additional activity and panels happening at outlying hotels.
Why are brands present?
SXSW provides a great environment for brands to engage
with influencers in the film, digital and music industries.
Interactive is particularly attractive to brands as the
attendees’ digital footprint can amplify messaging
About SXSW Interactive
Clutter is a huge challenge for brands
Julian Assange & Edward Snowden
SXSWi is powered by the idea that all things internet
will set us free and make the world a better place.
Therefore the current furor around these two
dissident characters made them headliners in this
year’s festival. Given their locations and travel bans
they were Livestream’d into the Convention Center.
Dissidents & Celebrities
Celebrities help garner press and are a regular part
of SXSW. Justin Bieber made a surprise appearance
as did Mr. Sulu from Star Trek and Lady Gaga with a
keynote address. Various other celebrities appeared
to promote their latest films, videos or promote brand
Every year Austin attracts a diverse range of ‘selfie’ worthy characters
Brands sponsored food trucks to help
get their message across. Go To Meeting
set up a free lunch station, only available
to those who download their app.
Brands as a Service
Pedal cabs are a big part of getting
around Austin and many brands had
creative examples to bring them alive.
For example, HBO created a Game of
Thrones pedal cab.
Brands mixing creativity with
utility are always well received
Go to Meeting ‘free lunch’
Game of Thrones bike
AT&T created a program called the
Mobile Movement to engage with young
Americans around their mobile devices.
Given the growing viewing and creation
of video on mobile, the brand created a
series of videos and encouraged their
network to create their own videos about
how they use their phone.
At SXSW AT&T created an Upwardly
Mobile showcase for emerging digital
technologies, debuted video content and
featured various musical acts.
Oreo’s Trending Station
The brand continued to build on its
famous 2013 Super Bowl tweet, aiming to
extend its reputation for real-time
creativity and engagement.
The Trending Station was set up in a high
traffic location and attendees tweeted
with the relevant #. This tweet allowed
them to choose one of ten current
trending topics on twitter. This topic was
then made into a customized Oreo flavor.
Milk was served on site.
The brand hosted an Idea Exchange in a
large tent to showcase some interesting
new innovations like a hockey table
activated by swipe technology.
3M also created a simple tweet-balloon
that inflated every time someone
tweeted their hashtag. After several
hundred tweets it popped and whoever
sent the last tweet won $500.
Deloitte was a large sponsor of the festival and had
several activations all over town.
The most innovative was a 3D printing station that
printed both plastic and edible food in 3D (on separate
Developed a Refuel lounge that allowed passers-by to
recharge batteries, access wifi and drink cleansing
Task Rabbit partnered with Moo.com to deliver to
attendees emergency business cards and a SXSW
survival kit consisting of breath freshener, Uber
and Austin Java coffee vouchers.
This was definitely the most impactful mobile on
the streets of Austin!
Vimeo set up a Vine recording booth with
the resulting vines then projected onto
walls at their event as part of a collage.
Music Events and Activations
To promote Lifetime’s Devious Maids,
attendees could take photos with
Devious Maids, the hashtag would then
trigger the printer to produce a hard
Music events are a big draw,
brands use on site digital tactics
to amplify their activity.
Virtual Reality of Data
Using VR to help understand trends in
big data and draw better and faster
The Exhibition Floor
Remote people on
The speed of connectivity now
allows for real time screens
and remote human
Panels & Sessions – Key Themes
Silicon Valley’s new focus…creativity
John Maeda is now the first design partner in
Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers. Creativity
is becoming essential in Silicon Alley as VCs
realize that user experience is key to creating
Online and Offline Collision
Bridging on and offline, 3D printing continued
from last year to be a key theme.
Microsoft talked about getting inspiration
from children’s offline due to their intuitively
simple approach to using new devices.
Taking interactive content into the real world,
many of the larger keynote sessions were
rendered by artists into interesting visuals of
relevant thoughts and themes
Teens and Social
Danah Boyd discussed the key findings
from her new book, “It’s Complicated.”
Looking at the evolution of teens and the
motivations behind their use of
technology from the 90s onwards. Key
motivations such as the need to connect
with friends and avoid parents, haven’t
changed, but the channels have.
She predicts a future of increasing
channel segmentation and the growth of
Vine-like applications that allow for more
H+K Panels – #NanoSizeMe – How small rules
Small Communities, Big
Ford, Charity:Water and a food blogger
discussed how best to approach small
communities and share passions. They
concluded that the future required
listening, understanding and
Micro-targeting vs macro-
Coke, Alfac and Informatica reviewed how
macro mass media tactics still have an
important role to play. Uniquely combined
approaches often lead to the most effective
The Internet of Things
GE, Quirky, Boeing and Cornell Medical
talked about how small data from lots of
personal devices can lead to an improved
relationship with your customer. Trust is
paramount to cementing this relationship.
HomeAway, Etsy, ThredUp and Feastly
discussed this hot topic and decided the
future lay with micro-entrepreneurs,
adoption by large corporations and
adapting of regulations to meet the peer
to peer business model.