Keep Austin Weird: Our SXSW highlights from 2014


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With presentations from some of the world’s brightest [and bravest] minds, last week’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival gave us all a preview of what is unfolding in the world of technology and digital creativity.

Conversation came in two parts- on one hand; there was a lot of buzz around the internet of things, wearable tech and mobile everything… Naturally on the other was the issue of privacy and over-sharing- reflected in the line-up including Edward Snowden (NSA whistle-blower) and Julian Assange (Wikileaks founder).

Here, we present to you the highlights. Hold onto your hats Y’all. 

Where the Action was: Twitter

Twitter reigned supreme with 1.5M SXSW tweets during the festival- That’s more than 12K tweets every hour!

Facebook was a distant second at 83K post mentions, followed by blogs (9K) and YouTube (766 videos).

Source: meltwater

The hot topic of 2014: Privacy

Following on from CSS, privacy is proving to be the hottest topic up for discussion in 2014. This year’s SXSW was headlined by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden who appeared via Google Hangout- stating that if he could do it all again, he would.

Snowden’s brave stance for privacy reminded us yet again of the vulnerabilities we each face online. His sentiments echoed by wikileaks founder Julian Assange and Eric Schmidt- Executive Chairman for Google.

So what should we do? What changes can we expect?

As marketers, we need to be brave enough to use big data for the better. We need to consider that there are more conscious consumers out there when it comes to privacy. We need to appreciate that privacy online matters and each person’s level of comfort differentiates. Expect consumers to combine private and public platforms- plan accordingly. 

Best brand Activation: Oreo ‘trending vending’

While most FMCG brands were busy handing out samples and branded items to festival goers- Oreos proved once again that it is a social media force to watch out for. The playful brand created 3D printed cookies based on real time twitter trends. Users could select a topic of interest and ‘eat the tweets’ currently happening online.

The SXSW Renegades: Medallia 

Software group Medallia partnered with the Foundation for the Homeless to create several donation points outside the Austin Convention Centre. That Google T-Shirt and Facebook hat you never wanted was put to good use by the guys at Medallia- who we’re sure won a few hearts in Austin by doing good with other brands dollars.

Keeping Austin weird: #Piinthesky

On March 14th (or 3.14 if your from the US), five skywriters flew for over the festival spelling out #piinthesky and then proceeded to write out 3.141592653…. for over an hour.

What followed on social media was the greatest moment as confused observers were quick to suggest conspiracy theories about the mysterious sky code. The slap to the forehead followed with the reveal of International Pi Day, leaving a stunned few feeling a little bit smarter that day.

Most talked about brands: 

No surprise that Google was the most talked about brand at a tech event… Austin’s streets were littered with Google Glass and just about every presentation had an element of search involved… another clear indication that brands need to shift their search strategies into gear for 2014 and beyond.

Other than Google, tech giants Samsung came in second. Here the brand presented content similar to CSS- more evolutionary than revolutionary with their devices.

Digital currency Bitcoin was also a hot topic along with Doritos- following a push from Lady Gaga during her Keynote.

Source: Fleishmanhillard

Best App: Apple’s iBeacon 

Apples innovative Bluetooth technology allows a two-way communication to take place between a beacon and a mobile device. One to watch out for in the retail space as brands can target specific users in a specific location at a specific moment.

Other apps woth a special mention include ‘Waygo’, which makes real-time translations of foreign writing into English- as you read.

Additionally, data privacy messengers ‘Omlet’ & ‘Secret’ scored some rave reviews with the security conscious crowd.

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