Why South by Southwest is a Powerful Venue for Brand Activations
The annual Austin, TX film, music and interactive extravaganza known as South by Southwest runs from March 9-18 this year. Not only is SXSW the largest music festival of its kind in the world, but also it is also an exciting film conference and a Launchpad for emerging technologies.
Creative types from across the globe will be converging on Austin this March, and while the event is a yearly highlight for attendees, it’s also a golden opportunity for brands and marketers that know the value of experiential marketing.
A Brief History of SXSW
Way back in 1986, discussions began in Austin that would lead to the very first South by Southwest festival in 1987. The group that started the festival was looking for a way for local musicians to get more exposure. The overriding idea was to bring the rest of the world to Austin to get a firsthand look at what it had to offer.
In March of 1987 the first event began, and it wasn’t long before it took on a life of its own, growing year after year as more and more musicians took part. In 1994, the film and interactive events were added and as the Internet took off, SXSW quickly became what it is today, one of the preeminent festivals in the world for creative people to share and learn and grow.
How the Event Has Evolved
The addition of film and interactive to South by Southwest was a significant part of the festival’s evolution, but it wasn’t the only thing. Over time, it became apparent that the festival would be a major opportunity for brands, as many influencers in the music and film industries regularly attended.
Today, SXSW produces the highest revenue for the Austin economy outside of sporting events and U of Texas events. It has grown over the past several years from an estimated economic impact of $190.3 million in 2012 to $325 million in 2016. Super Bowl LI that was held in Houston brought an estimated $347 million.
A Hotbed for Experiential Marketing
The vast numbers combined with the influence on popular culture that many of the attendees have, make South by Southwest the ideal venue for experiential marketing. Even though the event began as a way to show more of Austin’s creative community to the world, it is now world-renowned and the demographic is perfect for what experiential marketing provides.
As an internet culture, we love interacting with technology, and immersive experiences have become what we expect. A brand activation at South by Southwest creates the perfect storm of audience, influencers, environment and technology. People from all areas of the globe who have shown up with an open mind and ready to share experiences will take that experiential marketing message with them when they leave.
At The Pineapple Agency, we love the idea of using interactive elements to bring everyone together and enhance your brand. And everyone loves the mission and feeling behind the South by Southwest festival.