March 17, 2017

SXSW: Highlights from Afar


One of the most difficult parts of the social media age is the constant fear of missing out, or FOMO. That “missing out” sensation is often amplified around this time every year during the infamous technology, music and film showcase, South By Southwest.

South By has become a beacon for the celebration of culture and tech nestled in the Texas capital of Austin. The two-week festival is essentially an extended version of experiential marketing. As brands compete to create a visceral immersion of their products for consumers, SXSW is the ultimate destination for early adopters, trend-setters and southern wanderlust seekers.

While many of us are unable to partake in the festival experience, we can all revel in the sights and sounds that make their way out of Austin and onto the interweb; much a testament to the creativity and PR wizardry of installation masterminds. As a feverish brand marketing enthusiast, I wanted to share a selection of my favorite posts I’ve seen from afar. Enjoy these examples of guerrilla marketing at its finest:

Casper Mattress – Motel

When was the last time you willingly stayed at a motel? Aside from a cross-country road trip pit stop, the answer is likely close to never for most. Which begs the question, how can a brand elevate the motel experience?

Casper, a new-age mattress and bedware startup, outfitted a local motel with its signature line of mattresses. SXSW attendees could book a room for $99 a night, or 45 minutes in a “refresh room” to have a quick nap or recharge their devices. Each room comes with milk and cookies, and an on-site “mom” can be requested to tuck you in.

UrbanStems – Braid Bar

Urbanstems, a DC-based online flower company backed by Under Armor’s Kevin Plank, was in the mix of attendees this past weekend. The on-demand floral firm served up some outfitted festival-goers with their “Braid Bar” in a collaboration with Create & Cultivate. C&C hosted a pop-up consisting of empowering panels, hands-on activities and sparkling photo booths. UrbanStems added a touch of beauty to a picturesque day.This is a great example that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to surprise, delight and connect with consumers.

NatGeo – Genius

National Geographic made a big push this past weekend with their Go Further Base Camp: an interactive hub open daily for festival attendees to explore their own genius through brain-boosting and mind-boggling activities.

We are pumped for their upcoming series, Genius, which chronicles Albert Einstein’s rise to becoming the greatest scientific mind of the 20th century. To commemorate Einstein and his accomplishments, NatGeo created “Sketch Like Einstein,” an installation that transforms Einstein’s iconic chalkboard through an interactive robotic artist, sketching anything from iconic portraits to guest-submitted Twitter photos. Even by SXSW standards, this innovative activation is a must-see.

What brand activations stood out to you? We’d love to hear!