SXSW: Marketing Highlights & Trends


June 1, 2015BY Jeff Starr

This past spring Trademark traveled to Austin for the annual music, entertainment and technology pilgrimage that is SXSW.

SX’s original purpose was opening up avenues of exposure for small town bands from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Los Banos, California. After nearly two decades of rollicking spirit, the event has morphed into a two-week conference for interactive, film, and music. Its hard to determine if music or tech is the main draw these days, but one thing is for sure: the corporate branding is on point.

Throughout, some marketing highlights and trends pervaded:

Online Signup
SXSW Music badges guaranteed entrance to all official events…eventually. The earlier in the day, the easier the access.

For those without badges there was the pre-event social media signup blitz by sponsors promising VIP party entrances.

Upon arrival to nearly all marquee events, is was clear that the lines and wait at these venues were insurmountable to most without the official SXSW badges, despite being signing up online. Regardless, it was wildly successful in procuring email addresses and getting that much sought after demographic information.

Exposed Pallets and Unstained Wood
These budget conscious, key décor elements were found throughout the entirety of the Spotify House, but also as numerous exhibition booths, mtvU’s Woodie Awards, and the Dr. Marten’s party.

Touch Screen LCD screens
If you were a major sponsor of one of the destination parties, your plasma screen better interact with the attendee when they reach out to touch – as seen at YouTube, Pal Pal, McDonalds, Spotify, Hype Machine and Converse.

Make Lines Entertaining
Lagunitas had circus freaks and vaudeville acts entertaining the hundreds waiting to enter the Container Bar while PayPal had ambassadors chatting up the weary crowd gathering to enter the Empire Room.

Download the App
PayPal encouraged attendees to download their app – upon entrance to Empire Room you could grab tacos, beers, coffee and doughnuts for $1 each via paying with the app. However if you pay with cash or credit you’d have shelled out $5-$9 each.

Tweetable Phrases
Catchphrases were found everywhere: on the street, neons signs, hanging signs, anywhere and everywhere to generate snaps, tags and tweets. 

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