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Key Trends Report
We believe that marketers require both
education and inspiration to continue to
excel in their roles.
SXSW offers an unparalleled opportunity
to learn and hear from some of the
most influential thought leaders in their
respective fields.  
As a think-tank of ideas hard to obtain
any where else, SXSW effortlessly
empowers and inspires professionals to
take on the challenges of tomorrow.
This year, Carat narrows in on how these
disparate ideas can be applied to current
brand and business challenges. It is our
goal to ground the inspiration we see with
human behavior, business intelligence,
and market understanding to prepare
brands for today, tomorrow and the future. 
Why SXSW for brands?
2
3
Designing for Sound
Sound to the Rescue
Sound can have effects on human health
and safety if not carefully designed. The
integration of sound into experiences,
spaces and products can no longer
be considered an afterthought or add-
on. Pervasive across industries, from
dangerously silent electric vehicles with
potential to accidentally strike pedestrians,
to blaring hospital alarms that inhibit healing
and exhaust practitioners– the soundtrack
of our lives is inescapable and not always
beneficial for our physical and mental well-
being. Brands need to start thinking about
how products and experiences can help to
make human lives richer, simpler and safer
through the strategic use of music and sound.
Mogo is the New Logo
When thinking about advertising, sound
tends to be the ugly stepsister to visuals. With
Cisco predicting that there will be 50 billion
connected devices by 2020, smart marketers are
waking up to the importance of sound and how
they are showing up in an ears only environment.
In Raja Rajamannar’s, CMO of Mastercard,
session, “Reimagine Storytelling through Tech
and Experiences,” he outlined the importance
and role of sound in brand storytelling. In his
personal journey creating Mastercard’s new
Mogo (musical logo), he learned that a brand’s
Mogo needs to be immersive, not intrusive, and
should have the building blocks to be used
and translated across various purposes, from
advertising to point of sale and beyond.
4
Current Mood: High Lonesome
While we are more connected than ever
before, we have also never been lonelier.
The increase in loneliness is so significant, that
the U.K. appointed a Minister for Loneliness
last year.
In the opening keynote of SXSW, Brené
Brown, renown author and sociologist, talked
about this current time of “High Lonesome,”
and the harder it is to get close to people
both physically and emotionally. This is also
becoming an issue for brands, it’s never
been more challenging to make a real
connection with audiences.
The movie Bohemian Rhapsody reminded us
that the band Queen had over 20 top hits
over the years because they were a band
that celebrated the misfits and people who
felt like they didn’t belong. There is value in
uniting people who don’t feel understood.
This opens up an opportunity for brands to
create a sense of belonging for, and with,
audiences. People feel the most connected
during experiences of collective joy or pain.
Immersive brand experiences or sponsorship
of experiences offer up occasions where a
brand can facilitate moments of connection
between people.
One new example of this is a new physical
IRL place for gaming- the eSports arena.
The first eSports only arena just opened in
Arlington, Texas and is a world-class space
for gamers to physically gather on a grand
scale, celebrating in the collective joy of
gaming on a whole new level.
“We are wired to be a part of something.” - Brené Brown
5
How Westworld Ruined Everything
SXSW never disappoints when it comes to
pop-up experiences. Most of this investment
comes from the entertainment industry,
specifically Netflix and Amazon Prime.
One hotly anticipated activation was Bleed
for the Throne, a collaboration between
HBO’s Game of Thrones and the American
Red Cross. Fans were encouraged to sign up
in advance on the American Red Cross’ app
to donate blood in exchange for entrance
into the experience. While this activation was
creative and brought in a cause element, it
didn’t hold a candle to Westworld’s extreme
escapism from last year.
The immersive experience trend continued
with Netflix’s new movie “The Highwaymen”
creating a 1920’s style bar with an
interactive cast, giving pedestrians tokens
for engaging and then the ability to
redeem the tokens for swag at the end of
the experience. This gamified interaction
encouraged guests to stay longer and even
come back for multiple days in a row.
In addition, the new Amazon Prime show
“Good Omens” won the “people on the
street” prize, flooding Austin with angels,
nuns, demons, and even “hellhounds
in training” to get attention and bring
people to their immersive experience by
the convention center. (“Good Omens”
Activation).
6
Future of Transportation
There is a Buddhist analogy that references
religion as the boat that gets you from one
river bank to the other, which you leave
behind and continue your journey. This
seems like a reasonable mantra for the future
of transportation.
The future of transportation is shared. In
other words, it will be everywhere, belong
to everyone, and could change public
transportation as it currently exists.
As we move from self-driving cars to
autonomous cars we’ll need to ask ourselves
questions we’ve never asked before. What
will happen when cars are able to make
their own decisions? How can my car best
serve the community when I’m not using
it? Can my car go out to get my groceries?
How are we going to prevent terrorist attacks
against a fleet of cars connected by a
unified network?
Austin became a microcosm of the future.
Scooters provided by Lyft, Jump, and Bird
were a glorious nightmare. They allowed
quick movement from one place to another,
but caused a significant amount of mess,
and multiple reported accidents. If this is a
canary in the coalmine for transportation
it’s that we may need to redesign our cities
around humans, rather than cars.
7
The Dangers of Algorithmic Living
Larry Sanger summed it up by stating that
it’s mission critical for platforms to make sure
we’re addicted to their system.
Off-handed comments about the way
algorithms are increasingly changing our
lives were consistently heard throughout
data privacy & use, decentralization of big
tech, and the future of AI panels.
In the short-term we’ll continue to see
algorithms impacting the way we interact
with content, like Facebook’s pivotal role in
the 2016 elections. Where brands are both
market-places and market-players, we could
see the relatively quick clearing of categories,
as algorithms push a few to the top.
In the long-term, the opinions of a young
generation will continue to be influenced.
Unlike any generation before them,
algorithms will play a heavy hand in
influencing Gen Z’s individual world views.
In the world of AI, as we move from Artificial
Intelligence, to Augmented Intelligence,
to Augmented General Intelligence, the
algorithms that feed into these could
harbor the biases of the human creators.
The importance of human-machine
goal alignment will become increasingly
significant.
“My life is controlled more by algorithms than it is by laws.”
- Roger McNamee
8
A Glimpse of the Future with AR/VR/MR
Immersive technology continues to be a hot
trend disrupting every industry and remained
center stage through a myriad of demos
and panels at SXSW this year. Technological
advancements within the AR/VR/MR are
blurring the lines between physical and
digital simulated worlds, and use cases
for AR/VR/MR have now evolved beyond
gaming to retail, work & play.
Lauren Cascio and Ryan Hastings, Design &
Creative Directors at Microsoft, discussed the
company’s HoloLens 2, a mixed reality headset
that overlays VR images on top of what users
are seeing in the real world. Both Cascio and
Hastings explained how the HoloLens could be
used to design factories, and help employees
in high-risk areas stay safe.
A predominant use for this new immersive
technology is training personnel to do tasks
that are either too complex or dangerous
to just pass the keys and say, “good luck!”
Raymond Corporation launched a VR simulator
that helps familiarize its workers with operating
heavy machinery. This immersive technology
allows a trainee to get “behind the wheel,”
raise and lower the fork without moving the
machine, and endangering anyone else.
Other interesting uses for AR/VR/MR on the
convention floor include education, military uses
for search and rescue operations, automation,
and good old fashioned fun with advanced
video games and computer simulations.
“The bigger challenge in this
is the changing workforce;
We need tools to help people
do their jobs differently.”
- Lauren Cascio, Microsoft
9
The Continued Rise of Gaming
The Gaming track alone filled three full days
of content. The participation in gaming in
culture has skyrocketed with the popularity
and accessibility of Battle Royale games such
as Fortnite and Apex Legends, and the success
of e-leagues such as The Overwatch League.
Gaming is a global phenomenon, yet Nate
Nanzer, Commissioner of The Overwatch
League stated that we’ll begin to see a new
focus on giving major cities their own, local
e-sports team, becoming just as popular as
local traditional sports team. The increased
popularity of e-sports continues to attract
more brands as we see the storytelling,
personalities and content opportunities
within the sports streaming.
Media channels including ESPN and The
Washington Post spoke of their focus on
gaming as an entertainment growth area
for their editorial teams. In addition, we are
beginning to see the influence of gaming
on traditional media, as gamification
and immersive storytelling start to steep
into brand behaviors. Celia Hodent, the
Game UX Consultant who helped design
the cognitive reward systems of the global
juggernaut, Fortnite, discussed the science
behind gaming narratives. Through a designed
system of engage-ability, goals, competence
and and autonomy, games allow players to
feel a sense of achievement and progression.
When building relationships with customers,
brands can draw insight from the science
of gaming narratives and reward structures
to engage audiences in more attention
grabbing experiences.
10
Forcing a Power-Shift
The regulated redistribution of power was
a trend that spanned SXSW.
Multiple speakers from big-tech employees,
to senators and authors, were all calling
for various forms of decentralization.
The narrative included forcing Amazon
to conform to the standards of either
a market-place or a market-player,
requesting Facebook to divest Instagram
and Whatsapp, encouraging the public
to boycott social media platforms, and
suggesting big tech to distribute shares to
the public in place of tax.
Across the tech and data discussions, there
was an unanimous need to be far more
aligned on standards, regulation, and use
of consumer data. This is a trend that we
expect to continue to spread far beyond big
tech and into every corner of society.
Lifestyle Hacking
Connected health and the rise of data
empowerment is causing people to rethink
their own well-being. This year we saw
common themes across SXSW’s inaugural
Cannabusiness track including legislative
pressure on the future legalization of cannabis
and the education of the benefits of CBD,
with many predicting another 15 states will
legalize Cannabis in the next 2-3 years.
How to Action Post SXSW
Make sure your brand has a sonic identity that
can stand alone in a screenless environment
and consider different types of sounds for
different purposes (e.g., transaction vs. ads).
Create experiences, both physical and digital,
where your brand is facilitating moments of
real connection between people.
With the potential of decentralized big tech
in the future, think about how your brand can
offer clear communication, transparency,
and advocacy on how you are using data.
Explore augmented experiences for the
purposes of retail, work & play.
Explore strategies for gaming as a media
channel - through eSports, immersive
storytelling, or other media partnerships.
As cannabis becomes legalized across the next
2-3 years, explore how your brand may play a
role, be it partnership, education, advisory, etc.
11
12
Contact Us
To learn more or discuss how human intelligence and innovation strategy can help drive
value for your business, please contact Carat.USMarketing@Carat.com
Check out Carat’s podcast: The Human Element.
Exploring how insight and humanity impact modern marketing to build stronger brands.
Sarah Stringer
SVP, Head of Innovation,
Carat US
Halley Paas
SVP, Head of Strategy &
Insights, Carat US
James Allen
VP Director Strategy,
Carat US

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Carat @SXSW 2019 Wrap Up Report

  • 2. We believe that marketers require both education and inspiration to continue to excel in their roles. SXSW offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn and hear from some of the most influential thought leaders in their respective fields.   As a think-tank of ideas hard to obtain any where else, SXSW effortlessly empowers and inspires professionals to take on the challenges of tomorrow. This year, Carat narrows in on how these disparate ideas can be applied to current brand and business challenges. It is our goal to ground the inspiration we see with human behavior, business intelligence, and market understanding to prepare brands for today, tomorrow and the future.  Why SXSW for brands? 2
  • 3. 3 Designing for Sound Sound to the Rescue Sound can have effects on human health and safety if not carefully designed. The integration of sound into experiences, spaces and products can no longer be considered an afterthought or add- on. Pervasive across industries, from dangerously silent electric vehicles with potential to accidentally strike pedestrians, to blaring hospital alarms that inhibit healing and exhaust practitioners– the soundtrack of our lives is inescapable and not always beneficial for our physical and mental well- being. Brands need to start thinking about how products and experiences can help to make human lives richer, simpler and safer through the strategic use of music and sound. Mogo is the New Logo When thinking about advertising, sound tends to be the ugly stepsister to visuals. With Cisco predicting that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020, smart marketers are waking up to the importance of sound and how they are showing up in an ears only environment. In Raja Rajamannar’s, CMO of Mastercard, session, “Reimagine Storytelling through Tech and Experiences,” he outlined the importance and role of sound in brand storytelling. In his personal journey creating Mastercard’s new Mogo (musical logo), he learned that a brand’s Mogo needs to be immersive, not intrusive, and should have the building blocks to be used and translated across various purposes, from advertising to point of sale and beyond.
  • 4. 4 Current Mood: High Lonesome While we are more connected than ever before, we have also never been lonelier. The increase in loneliness is so significant, that the U.K. appointed a Minister for Loneliness last year. In the opening keynote of SXSW, Brené Brown, renown author and sociologist, talked about this current time of “High Lonesome,” and the harder it is to get close to people both physically and emotionally. This is also becoming an issue for brands, it’s never been more challenging to make a real connection with audiences. The movie Bohemian Rhapsody reminded us that the band Queen had over 20 top hits over the years because they were a band that celebrated the misfits and people who felt like they didn’t belong. There is value in uniting people who don’t feel understood. This opens up an opportunity for brands to create a sense of belonging for, and with, audiences. People feel the most connected during experiences of collective joy or pain. Immersive brand experiences or sponsorship of experiences offer up occasions where a brand can facilitate moments of connection between people. One new example of this is a new physical IRL place for gaming- the eSports arena. The first eSports only arena just opened in Arlington, Texas and is a world-class space for gamers to physically gather on a grand scale, celebrating in the collective joy of gaming on a whole new level. “We are wired to be a part of something.” - Brené Brown
  • 5. 5 How Westworld Ruined Everything SXSW never disappoints when it comes to pop-up experiences. Most of this investment comes from the entertainment industry, specifically Netflix and Amazon Prime. One hotly anticipated activation was Bleed for the Throne, a collaboration between HBO’s Game of Thrones and the American Red Cross. Fans were encouraged to sign up in advance on the American Red Cross’ app to donate blood in exchange for entrance into the experience. While this activation was creative and brought in a cause element, it didn’t hold a candle to Westworld’s extreme escapism from last year. The immersive experience trend continued with Netflix’s new movie “The Highwaymen” creating a 1920’s style bar with an interactive cast, giving pedestrians tokens for engaging and then the ability to redeem the tokens for swag at the end of the experience. This gamified interaction encouraged guests to stay longer and even come back for multiple days in a row. In addition, the new Amazon Prime show “Good Omens” won the “people on the street” prize, flooding Austin with angels, nuns, demons, and even “hellhounds in training” to get attention and bring people to their immersive experience by the convention center. (“Good Omens” Activation).
  • 6. 6 Future of Transportation There is a Buddhist analogy that references religion as the boat that gets you from one river bank to the other, which you leave behind and continue your journey. This seems like a reasonable mantra for the future of transportation. The future of transportation is shared. In other words, it will be everywhere, belong to everyone, and could change public transportation as it currently exists. As we move from self-driving cars to autonomous cars we’ll need to ask ourselves questions we’ve never asked before. What will happen when cars are able to make their own decisions? How can my car best serve the community when I’m not using it? Can my car go out to get my groceries? How are we going to prevent terrorist attacks against a fleet of cars connected by a unified network? Austin became a microcosm of the future. Scooters provided by Lyft, Jump, and Bird were a glorious nightmare. They allowed quick movement from one place to another, but caused a significant amount of mess, and multiple reported accidents. If this is a canary in the coalmine for transportation it’s that we may need to redesign our cities around humans, rather than cars.
  • 7. 7 The Dangers of Algorithmic Living Larry Sanger summed it up by stating that it’s mission critical for platforms to make sure we’re addicted to their system. Off-handed comments about the way algorithms are increasingly changing our lives were consistently heard throughout data privacy & use, decentralization of big tech, and the future of AI panels. In the short-term we’ll continue to see algorithms impacting the way we interact with content, like Facebook’s pivotal role in the 2016 elections. Where brands are both market-places and market-players, we could see the relatively quick clearing of categories, as algorithms push a few to the top. In the long-term, the opinions of a young generation will continue to be influenced. Unlike any generation before them, algorithms will play a heavy hand in influencing Gen Z’s individual world views. In the world of AI, as we move from Artificial Intelligence, to Augmented Intelligence, to Augmented General Intelligence, the algorithms that feed into these could harbor the biases of the human creators. The importance of human-machine goal alignment will become increasingly significant. “My life is controlled more by algorithms than it is by laws.” - Roger McNamee
  • 8. 8 A Glimpse of the Future with AR/VR/MR Immersive technology continues to be a hot trend disrupting every industry and remained center stage through a myriad of demos and panels at SXSW this year. Technological advancements within the AR/VR/MR are blurring the lines between physical and digital simulated worlds, and use cases for AR/VR/MR have now evolved beyond gaming to retail, work & play. Lauren Cascio and Ryan Hastings, Design & Creative Directors at Microsoft, discussed the company’s HoloLens 2, a mixed reality headset that overlays VR images on top of what users are seeing in the real world. Both Cascio and Hastings explained how the HoloLens could be used to design factories, and help employees in high-risk areas stay safe. A predominant use for this new immersive technology is training personnel to do tasks that are either too complex or dangerous to just pass the keys and say, “good luck!” Raymond Corporation launched a VR simulator that helps familiarize its workers with operating heavy machinery. This immersive technology allows a trainee to get “behind the wheel,” raise and lower the fork without moving the machine, and endangering anyone else. Other interesting uses for AR/VR/MR on the convention floor include education, military uses for search and rescue operations, automation, and good old fashioned fun with advanced video games and computer simulations. “The bigger challenge in this is the changing workforce; We need tools to help people do their jobs differently.” - Lauren Cascio, Microsoft
  • 9. 9 The Continued Rise of Gaming The Gaming track alone filled three full days of content. The participation in gaming in culture has skyrocketed with the popularity and accessibility of Battle Royale games such as Fortnite and Apex Legends, and the success of e-leagues such as The Overwatch League. Gaming is a global phenomenon, yet Nate Nanzer, Commissioner of The Overwatch League stated that we’ll begin to see a new focus on giving major cities their own, local e-sports team, becoming just as popular as local traditional sports team. The increased popularity of e-sports continues to attract more brands as we see the storytelling, personalities and content opportunities within the sports streaming. Media channels including ESPN and The Washington Post spoke of their focus on gaming as an entertainment growth area for their editorial teams. In addition, we are beginning to see the influence of gaming on traditional media, as gamification and immersive storytelling start to steep into brand behaviors. Celia Hodent, the Game UX Consultant who helped design the cognitive reward systems of the global juggernaut, Fortnite, discussed the science behind gaming narratives. Through a designed system of engage-ability, goals, competence and and autonomy, games allow players to feel a sense of achievement and progression. When building relationships with customers, brands can draw insight from the science of gaming narratives and reward structures to engage audiences in more attention grabbing experiences.
  • 10. 10 Forcing a Power-Shift The regulated redistribution of power was a trend that spanned SXSW. Multiple speakers from big-tech employees, to senators and authors, were all calling for various forms of decentralization. The narrative included forcing Amazon to conform to the standards of either a market-place or a market-player, requesting Facebook to divest Instagram and Whatsapp, encouraging the public to boycott social media platforms, and suggesting big tech to distribute shares to the public in place of tax. Across the tech and data discussions, there was an unanimous need to be far more aligned on standards, regulation, and use of consumer data. This is a trend that we expect to continue to spread far beyond big tech and into every corner of society. Lifestyle Hacking Connected health and the rise of data empowerment is causing people to rethink their own well-being. This year we saw common themes across SXSW’s inaugural Cannabusiness track including legislative pressure on the future legalization of cannabis and the education of the benefits of CBD, with many predicting another 15 states will legalize Cannabis in the next 2-3 years.
  • 11. How to Action Post SXSW Make sure your brand has a sonic identity that can stand alone in a screenless environment and consider different types of sounds for different purposes (e.g., transaction vs. ads). Create experiences, both physical and digital, where your brand is facilitating moments of real connection between people. With the potential of decentralized big tech in the future, think about how your brand can offer clear communication, transparency, and advocacy on how you are using data. Explore augmented experiences for the purposes of retail, work & play. Explore strategies for gaming as a media channel - through eSports, immersive storytelling, or other media partnerships. As cannabis becomes legalized across the next 2-3 years, explore how your brand may play a role, be it partnership, education, advisory, etc. 11
  • 12. 12 Contact Us To learn more or discuss how human intelligence and innovation strategy can help drive value for your business, please contact Carat.USMarketing@Carat.com Check out Carat’s podcast: The Human Element. Exploring how insight and humanity impact modern marketing to build stronger brands. Sarah Stringer SVP, Head of Innovation, Carat US Halley Paas SVP, Head of Strategy & Insights, Carat US James Allen VP Director Strategy, Carat US