Top Ten SXSW Promotions and Branding Efforts
10. BBH’s Homeless Hotspots
SXSW’s most controversial product, New York ad agency BBH’s “Homeless Hotspots” initiative, was as striking as it was divisive. Whether you side with those who thought the idea of using homeless people as wireless transmitters was dehumanizing or you’re with those who thought was harmless positivity, it’s hard to deny that it was an emotion-invoking, passion-fueling promotion. The buzz quickly fizzled, however, and BBH nixed the idea altogether after its SXSW trial debut.
9. Highlight’s Neon Shopping Carts
Highlight is the location-based social connection app that became the obsession of SXSW Interactive this year. According to Mashable’s mRank leaderboard, Highlight was the most talked-about startup mentioned on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. And those who somehow didn’t catch any of Highlight’s documented buzz were drawn like moths to the neon-painted, boom box blasting shopping carts circulating the event.
8. HootSuite’s HootBus
It’s one thing to take to the streets with a mobile billboard, but HootSuite did SXSW one better by navigating the streets of Austin in a bus outfitted with a giant owl. It was instantly recognizable and just weird enough to stand out in Austin without freaking people out. Plus, HootSuite employees were given access to loads of “HootSwag,” including t-shirts and scarves, to be shot at passersby through a CO2-powered “HootCannon.”
7. AT&T’s Plug in & Power up Charging Lockers
When attending an event as action-packed as SXSW, the best laid schemes—including keeping your phone alive all day—go often awry. Every year since 2010, AT&T has come to the rescue by supplying chargers for festival-goers. This year, the chargers were rigged inside of candy-coated lockers, allowing people to secure their phones under lock and key, step away to attend a party or panel, and return to a fully-charged battery.
6.Foodspotting’s Street Food Fest
This year, the team behind Foodspotting hosted its 3rd annual SXSW Street Food Fest, attracting 5,000 people and giving them good reason to download the free Foodspotting app. The event included a lounge with karaoke, giveways and contests, an eating contest with champion eater Takeru Kobayashi and, naturally, a full range of the best food trucks Austin has to offer, serving chicken and waffle tacos, kimchi fries and a ton of other delights.
5. PepsiCo’s Constant Presence
As one of SXSW Interactive’s sponsors, PepsiCo was omnipresent throughout the event, but the company further made its mark on the entire conference by engaging attendees with digital, music and film experiences. From the Mountain Dew DEWeezy project to Doritos’ nearly six-story-tall vending machine/stage and much-hyped music performances on said stage, to the “What If? Unconference” devoted to digital idea brainstorming, Pepsi made the most of its branding opportunities this year.
4. Chevy’s “Catch a Chevy”
For the third year in a row, Chevy was smart enough to key into another need of the weary conference-goer: quick, free transportation. The “Catch a Chevy” promotion unleashed 46 branded Chevy Cruzes and Equinoxes throughout the streets of Austin, offering free taxi-like rides to attendees. An interactive map helped users find the nearest vehicle as well as locate Chevy-sponsored activities.
3. HBO’s Girls
The premier of Lena Dunham’s HBO series Girls was easily the most talked about event of this year’s SXSW Film. If you happened to make it through SXSW without seeing any of HBO’s Girls promos, you might want to have a talk with your optometrist. Print ads were plastered across Austin; on fences, cement columns and pedicabs. HBO upped the ante by sponsoring a tent with free coffee, bike rentals and WiFi.
2. Can We Network Party Bus
CanWeNetwork hosted SXSW 2012’s first happy hour at Roial and then continued to grab attention with a vibrantly decorated party bus, celeb appearances and an active, integrated Twitter account. The mobile app’s promos may have overshadowed the opportunity to introduce people to its actual product, but it promises that it will be “changing the game” of networking this summer. Only time will tell what exactly the brand has in store, but its aggressive, savvy SXSW promotion was a fantastic start and we’re intrigued.
1. Branded Food Trucks
While we had to give Foodspotting props for its shindig, it would be criminal to glaze over one of SXSW’s biggest and most exercised promotions. Tech brands like Mashable, Squarespace and SalesForce served up free empanadas, burgers and breakfast tacos, while FedEx got in the game with free daily lunches served in shipping packages. Even The Today Show treated festival goers to a full menu of free munchies. Brands showcasing in Austin have figured out that the quickest way to a consumer’s heart is their stomach, and you don’t have to be in the food biz to capitalize on the trend.
Giving efficiency the full throttle at NASCAR
The NASCAR organization has long been synonymous with speed, agility and innovation. And so by extension, partnerships at NASCAR hold a similar reputation. One such partner for the organization has been CDW – a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. CDW provides a broad array of products and services ranging from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security cloud hybrid infrastructure and digital experience. Customer need is the driving force at CDW, and the company helps clients by delivering integrated services solutions that maximize their technology investment. So how does CDW help their customers achieve their business goals? Troy Okerberg, Field Sales Manager - North Florida at CDW adds “We strive to provide our customers with full stack expertise, helping them design, orchestrate and manage technologies that drive their business outcomes.”
NASCAR acquired International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in 2019, merging its operations into one, new company moving forward. The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans. CDW has been instrumental in bringing the two technology environments together to enable collaboration and efficiency as one organization. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of all of NASCAR’s vendors, CDW created a uniform data platform for the data center environment across the NASCAR-ISC organization. The IT partner has also successfully merged the two native infrastructure systems together, while analyzing, consulting and providing an opportunity to merge Microsoft software licenses as well.
2020 turned into a tactical year for both organizations with the onset of the pandemic and CDW has had to react quickly to the changing scenario. Most of the initial change included building efficiencies around logistics, like equipment needing to be delivered into the hands of end users who switched to a virtual working environment almost overnight. CDW’s distribution team worked tirelessly to ensure that all customers could still access the products that they were purchasing and needed for their organizations throughout the COVID timeframe. Okerberg adds that today, CDW continues to optimize their offering by hyper-localizing resources as well as providing need-based support based on the size and complexity of their accounts. Although CDW still operates remotely, the company commits to adapting to the changing needs of their clients, NASCAR in particular. Apart from the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the organization, another task that CDW had been handed was to identify gaps and duplicates in vendor agreements that the two former single-entity organizations had in place and align them based on services offered. CDW further helps identify and provide the best solution from a consolidation standpoint of both hardware and software clients so that the new merged organization is equipped with the best of what the industry has to offer.