Another year, another SXSW. There was certainly a whirlwind of activity – and our DGC team always faces the same problem after industry conferences as big and exciting as this one: How to experience everything SXSW has to offer? The correct answer: It’s extremely difficult, so pat yourself on the back if you see at least one cool thing per day. Fortunately we saw many. Here are a few takeaways and insights that we’re bringing back to the office and sharing with our teams, clients and peers:

  1. Create Deeper Experiences with Fans

From Samsung, to the United Nations to National Geographic, many brands engaged with fans via cool, interactive experiences. The A&E network’s drama series, “The Bates Motel,” had an exact replica of its on-set hotel in Austin, and it was fully-functional, accommodating overnight guests. The promotion give fans a deeper experience with the show, based on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” National Geographic’s fantastic activation promoting the hit series “Life Below Zero” was an immersive adventure that plunged fans into the icy, cold  conditions of Alaska. As the temperature dropped, fans were forced to connect clues, complete challenges and solve puzzles to escape back to the warm, south Texas sun. We also saw some of-the-moment brands team up to reach their fans. The Spotify House, for example, hosted daily SoulCycle classes with live DJs, free snacks and juice, and a full-on flash mob to accompany and motivate sweaty cyclists. This unique activation proved that music, fitness, and SXSW can go hand in hand.

  1. Consider all Brands as Tech Companies

Move over Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo. Today every brand considers itself a tech brand, which is part reality and partly an effort to get ahead of digital trends and appeal to the younger, more plugged in Millennial crowds that flock to Austin. For example, Equinox Fitness launched new data-driven spin technology so its members can track their workout progress and help determine future fitness strategies. The data that is gathered on the bike is also attached to member profiles on the Equinox app so users can keep track of their data.

  1. What’s Next?

SXSW wouldn’t be the festival it is today if it weren’t up to the minute. The buzziest app of the week leading up to the festival was the recently launched Meerkat, which enables users to live-stream video directly to Twitter. Twitter moved quickly to block the service, despite its popularity on March 13, before SXSW got fully underway. While live-streaming has been around for some time, it will be interesting to see how marketers engage with these platforms for future brand activation strategies.


Posted on March 19, 2015, in The Hit Board. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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