South by South West or SXSW as it’s better known, is of course the world famous interactive set of film, music festivals and conferences that runs every year around the middle of March in Austin, Texas.
In 2015, almost 70,000 people descended upon Austin to partake of the combination of conferences, trade shows and other events which harness creativity and new ideas sharing amongst bright thinkers and keen start-ups.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most compelling sessions held at this year’s SXSW:
Meerkat owned SXSW
Being in an industry (PR, marketing, ATL, BTL) where we’re always looking to add value to our clients ROI, identifying future technology trends is an important one and SXSW didn’t disappoint. First on the agenda was live-streaming video apps, labelled as the breakthrough app of the conference by Meerkat. Trialled by the likes of Red Bull and the Miami Dolphins, it launched just two weeks before the conference kicked-off allowing festival-goers and journalists reporting from the ground to live-stream their own experience affording those who couldn’t be there in person to experience it vicariously.
This was before Twitter decided to limit Meerkat’s access to its social graph as it’s competition for Twitter-owned, Periscope – a similar app that Twitter acquired quietly at the beginning of the year. This didn’t stop Meerkat being the talk of the festival… in fact it probably helped as the app surpassed 100,000 users over the weekend.
McDonald’s being relevant in a sea of millennials
SXSW is the perfect forum for major brands to gain traction with a captive audience, but if you’re McDonald’s how do you do this amongst the young millennial, hipster set who are more inclined to reach for a kale burger than a cheeseburger? The answer, be relevant.
McDonald’s tapped into one of the biggest consumer sentiments of the festival – the host of after-parties and after-parties equals mega hangovers. Maccas launched a branded activation space with food trucks serving free all-day breakfast for hungover festival-goers, a fleet of workers pouring free hot coffee for the tired, free Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day, and free ‘wi-fry’. A testament to understanding that no matter the crowd, everyone loves free food.
Hey, it’s Ava
SXSW also saw Tinder used by a company for the first time. Swipers in Austin came across Ava and had deep and meaningful conversations with Ava asking questions like “Have you ever been in love?”. Users were directed to her Instagram page where they quickly realised they’d been duped… Ava’s not a real person, she’s a robot. This clever use of the social platform formed part of a wider marketing strategy to promote Ex Machina, a sci-fi thriller where the central character is a robot questioning ‘her’ humanity.