ABC Marks ‘Roseanne’ Reboot With SXSW Pop-Up Restaurant

ABC is at SXSW promoting the return of hit show Roseanne with a pop-up eatery tapping into viewer nostalgia. The activation recreates several of the show’s locations, including the Lanford Lunch Box, which the Roseanne Conner and family opened during the series, as well as the Conners’ living room, kitchen and garage.

The food and beverage menu on the Lanford Lunch Box activation consisted of popular eats from the show menu, like loose meat sandwiches, pie, coffee and Canoga root beer. The network’s marketing team also threw in customized sofa pedicabs—replete with miniature afghans blasting both the show’s theme song and Roseanne’s distinct laugh around downtown Austin—and a street team passing out branded koozies.

Fans seeking some star power were also able to rub shoulders with the show’s cast and play Roseanne trivia with Lecy Goranson, Michael Fishman and Emma Kenney.

ABC’s marketing at SXSW is an extension of the show’s overall strategy as it preps to hit airwaves again later this month. Last week, a subway car in New York City was remade to look like the family’s living room, with portraits on the walls and seats designed as the family’s couch. The exterior was also wrapped with imagery signaling the return of the show.

Pop-up restaurants are nothing new at SXSW. Showtime also brought “Harold’s Chicken Shack” as an ode to the upcoming show this year, and last year, Los Pollos Hermanos built a restaurant from the ground up in Austin to promote season three of Better Call Saul. Shows like Saved by the Bell (The Max) and films such as Coming To America (McDowell’s) have also tapped into fans’ food appreciation and debuted similarly-styled pop-up restaurants.

Google Continues Making Case For Voice With SXSW Fun House

Google is making a case that it’s serious about competing with Amazon Alexa and seizing available market share by continuing its heavy promotional push for Google Assistant at SXSW.

The company came to Austin this year to get consumers more acclimated with voice technology and artificial intelligence with the Google Assistant Fun House, which demonstrated some of the ways people are using its Actions in everyday life. Google also shuttled attendees around the city with Google Hoppers, a branded ride service that was free to all SXSW badge holders.

During SXSW, the company’s experiential marketing strategy and presence was similar to the one it activated in January and was a continuation of the ad campaign it introduced during the Academy Awards.

People in Austin appeared to be interested with the fairly nascent platform of digital assistants and the promise voice technology presents. The Fun House regularly had some of the longest lines during Interactive to experience the activation.

Attendees who entered the space were greeted by a Google-branded lowrider that was parked on the lawn. With the voice command “OK, Google: bounce,” the car danced up and down to music—like War’s “Low Rider.” Through a partnership with Spot Hero, it also exhibited how people can find parking spots and even a lost car through the digital assistant.

Upon leaving the classic car, guests were able to see how they could trigger a water sprinkler through voice before being invited into a 12-room, two-story home that gave people a look into how voice can be integrated across all touchpoints.

From lights to litter boxes to laundry, each section of the house exhibited different ways people are using voice technology to make their lives simpler.

Google also used SXSW to showcase partners like Patrón and Dominoes and how it’s building an integrated ecosystem around Assistant in order to keep pace with Amazon. The tequila brand was a first-mover into voice in 2016 and brought a margarita bar that dispensed cocktails on command.

“It’s pretty obvious Google is trying to integrate voice into as many things as possible,” said Jesper Nolhage, a user experience specialist for Volvo who was one of the attendees that toured the space. “The demonstrations in the house felt more like gimmicks than actually meeting real needs, but it was still interesting to see what Google is able to pull off.”

Gatorade’s Experiential Marketing At SXSW Showcases Sports Technology

For a brand like Gatorade, SXSW certainly feels like a fitting place to further test its experiential marketing strategy with dehydrated and bleary-eyed attendees and give them a health-focused reality check. Gatorade geared up at SXSW to show attendees it’s more than just a beverage company.

The company erected a G-Store pop-up at the event, featuring their products and a new line, G ESSNTL. Attendees were given a tablet and asked to scan four separate sections of the store to learn more about each item through augmented reality. After completing the course, a refrigerator filled with Gatorade opened its doors to a space that shows how the brand is using tech as part of its marketing strategy.

“G-Store is a way for us to showcase how broad the Gatorade product portfolio really is through hydration, energy, recovery, endurance products and more—but with a twist,” said Gina Hardy, head of consumer and athlete engagement, to AListDaily. “While the retail shop spotlights our innovation, the stockroom is a competitive playground that showcases how evolving technology is fueling training for athletes.”

Once attendees walked through the refrigerator, they were able to try different tech training tools. Gatorade partnered with the app Volt to create an on-demand digital trainer.

Then there was Beat the Blitz. Gatorade’s virtual reality game shows users how dehydration can impact throwing accuracy and overall performance for quarterbacks.

Gatorade’s “Handles Hero” leveraged the Lazer 900 to deliver ball-handling drills using a real basketball designed to train players to make decisions quickly and correctly, similar to a live game situation.

“SXSW is such a destination event, and there’s competition for engagement in every direction,” said Hardy. “The key to being successful—no matter where you are—is staying authentic to your brand.”

AMC Takes To SXSW To Promote Its Newest Show, ‘The Terror’

AMC is leveraging SXSW’s experiential playground to continue building up the marketing of its latest drama, The Terror, with an immersive, multi-sensory experience that takes place in a boat built in a shipping container.

The show’s premise is about the British Royal Navy’s disastrous 1845 trip into uncharted territory as the crew attempts to discover the Northwest Passage. To promote the 10-episode first season of its haunting new series, the experience is designed to spark viewership interest with a first-hand look at what it could have been like to be a crew member on the ship.

“That aspect of the show has universal appeal, and SXSW is a good place to tap into potential new viewers,” Theresa Beyer, SVP of promotions, activations and partnerships for AMC, told AListDaily. “Putting people into a similar environment reflects the action of the show and is a more engaging way to get people into the story.”

The show is a speculative fiction about how 120 crew members aboard a ship mysteriously disappeared. Guests who entered the arctic experience were greeted by characters from the show and were then thrust into bone-chilling conditions where they were subjected to hearing the gruesome sounds of men fighting for their lives.

“We could have done something simpler through VR, put this kind of experience allows people to participate and ignites their senses,” said Beyer, adding that the elements they produced allow for the experience to resonate and create better consumer recall.

The next leg of the marketing strategy for the show will take place at WonderCon later this month when AMC will bring the exact same experience to Los Angeles.

Executive produced by Ridley Scott, David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, the two-hour series premiere for The Terror is set to premiere March 26.


Bravo Wants SXSW Attendees To Con Social Followers With Fake Photos

Sometimes our daily lives on social media may seem more glamorous than they really are, and the marketing team at Bravo TV understands that.

To promote the second season of Imposters, the TV network took over a parking lot in downtown Austin this weekend with an activation called “InstaCON.” The experience serves the premise and theme of the show and is designed to accomplish what it’s set out to do—get people posting on social media and help the network promote the premiere of season two on April 5.

The activation was made to tie into the theme of the show’s main character in Maddie (Lavi), a persona-shifting con artist, and the “Bumblers,” a trio of her recent, heart-broken victims.

“The activation is designed to offer our audience an engaging live experience and unique content they’ll want to share,” Maria Laino Deluca, Bravo’s SVP of consumer and trade marketing, told AListDaily. “InstaCON was developed with the Bravo fan in mind, but the experience is eye-catching and escapist, appealing to a broad audience.”

Elaborate sets were designed to give attendees a way to make their social followers believe they are on private jets, yachts, or even staying in an ice hotel.

Bravo also added small touches within each set from the show, like the “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” shot ski.

Guests who chose to revel in the duplicity received two photos. The first was a luxurious close-up, cropped intentionally to look as though the photo is real. The second shot was a wider frame that exposed the con.

By posting the InstaCon reveal photos under the hashtag #ImpostersSweepstakes, participants could have the chance to win a real luxury vacation experience of their choice, but as of press time, not much traction could be seen on social. On Instagram, over 140 posts had been shared within the first day and just two on Twitter.

Bumble Brings A Mission To Promote Equality At SXSW

SXSW can serve as fertile grounds for singles who yearn for love or casual encounters on dating apps. Bumble, a four-year-old app which currently has 27 million users, is in the midst of a growing marketing mission with hopes of expanding its reach globally.

The female-first social networking app came to Austin at Fair Market for a potential match with attendees this weekend for a two-day experiential marketing activation centered around giving badge holders a crack at romance and leveraging its platform to continue discussions around female empowerment, inclusion in the workplace and how to build healthy relationships.

“Bumble Presents: Empowering Connections” gave attendees a chance to pimp their profiles at a “Bio Bar” before sending them off to make the first move on five-minute speed dates.

Bumble also brought along Bumble Bizz, which gives startups a chance pitch their business idea for a chance to win mentorship and a $5,000 grant.

Discussions around gender equality with actress and activist Gina Rodriguez, author Keke Palmer and Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd anchored the event’s programming.

Earlier this week, the app signed on as an official sponsor with the Los Angeles Clippers. The brand’s logo will now appear on the team’s jersey.

Much like their presence at SXSW, the deal launched a marketing campaign to partner with brands to advance workplace equality.

Starz Sets Sights On Women, Latina Market At SXSW To Diversify Audience 

Starz stepped into the experiential marketing scene at SXSW this year with a different strategy than it has in the past. Instead of building on an already established property like the network did for American Gods last year, the premium cable channel set its sights on creating buzz for two new shows directed to both a diverse and female audience.

To introduce Vida and Sweetbitter to culturally savvy females at SXSW, the network took over Rainey Street in Austin with the Starz Sensory House. The space is designed to introduce each show tonally by igniting the five senses and leaving attendees inspired to tune into the premiere of each series in May.

Starz leaned into the unique environments of each show and partnered with mostly local female vendors, which included an onsite candy, wine, perfume and nail bar as well as a T-shirt and tote printing station.

Tiffany Gabrus, executive director of originals marketing for Starz, told AListDaily that the network is looking to skew away from its primarily old and male audience by greenlighting shows that serve females and women of color. Such is the case of Vida, which is for Latinas.

“There is so much competition right now and programming is saturated, but it’s important for us to be at events like SXSW,” said Gabrus. “When we go to market with these shows, we believe it’s going to be unique because it’s for an underserved audience. It a big part of our marketing strategy.”

The scheduling of the two shows also coincides with the Times Up and Me Too movement, but Gabrus said that was more of a coincidence. She did, however, anticipate that Starz should benefit of the timing because that demographic is looking for programming that represents them better.

“It will hopefully only help and not hurt,” she said, adding that Starz has enjoyed similar success in the past with Power, a show with a predominantly African-American cast.

Gabrus said since the network is trying to seize a new audience, they are also mixing their marketing strategy by testing and purchasing new ad channels.

“Whether it’s TV or out of home, we’re buying things that we haven’t bought before to better reach females and women of color,” she said.

In addition to drawing attention to the shows, SXSW served as a spot for Starz to immediately build the social media following for each series. Both are still currently in its social infancy, but according to the preliminary report from SXSW, Gabrus said the fan engagement has been “fantastic.”

Sony’s SXSW Exhibit Invites Attendees To Interact And Experiment

SXSW is smitten with start-ups, so for a multinational marque like Sony, it’s strategy at the conference this year is to show that it’s not the legacy brand most consumers likely grew up with.

The company took over a cavernous space in downtown Austin at SXSW to show its latest prototypes with playful and interactive experiences.

The “Wow Studio” is designed to be the brand’s innovation and experimentation lab. It’s centered around delivering on kando, a philosophy that the company bills as building experiences that resonate on an emotional level by combining their line of products and technologies with interactive content.

Some of the activations from the exhibit included: a tabletop projector; an AR air hockey game that displays how Sony is shaping the space of high-speed vision sensors and haptics technology; an interactive VR soccer experience with sensors that reproduce the ball’s direction and speed; and a hero generator that creates avatars for guests to star as a protagonist for their own short film and renders a file that can be viewed later on a smartphone.

The company is pairing their experiential marketing efforts during the Music portion of the festival this year with “Lost In Music” to showcase its spatial audio technology and roster of artists with a PlayStation VR music video from star singer Khalid.

The brand also partnered with DJ Skee and built an enormous see-through speaker with a DJ booth in the middle and lyric projections matching the music.

As the Japanese conglomerate continues to reinvent its image, SXSW served as a worthwhile destination for the brand to reestablish consumer affection.

‘Ready Player One’ Uses VR, Guerrilla Marketing At SXSW To Promote Film

A parade of troopers dubbed the IOI Sixers stormed up and down downtown Austin calling for the capture of Wade Watts and offered people passing by a $1 million reward.

Watts, who goes by the avatar Parzival, is not your ordinary fugitive. He is a lead character in Ready Player One, the upcoming action-adventure, futuristic film from Steven Speilberg that is inspired by the Ernest Cline bestselling book of the same name.

The plead from the IOI Sixers was a guerrilla marketing stunt designed to get SXSW attendees wondering exactly what was happening and bring them to the doors of movie’s two-story arcade space in downtown.

Warner Bros. and HTC Vive are taking over Brazos Hall at SXSW this week to promote the forthcoming film with eight pieces of virtual reality content across separate demo bays. The experiential marketing activation is designed to further push the promise of virtual reality toward mainstream adoption while showing the film’s immersive entertainment qualities.

“We want people to understand that VR is now,” J.B. McRee, senior manager of product marketing for HTC Vive, told AListDaily. “We’re using SXSW as a space to promote VR and a film that a lot of people may not know about, while also tapping into its built-in fan base.”

McRee is hoping each of the vastly different VR experiences HTC has created will help increase the awareness and demand for the film, which is eyeing a $45 million debut. Each piece of content represents different key elements from the book, and the adaptations are inspired by the movie’s universe, which is set in the year 2045.

“Everything at SXSW is a mere representation of what was represented in the book,” said McCree. “VR gives us a unique way to expose the book to a technology a lot of people are excited about.”

For those who are not in Austin, fear not any potential FOMO. All of the SXSW-released Ready Player One content is scheduled to be made available on HTC Vive headsets and will be free to download on Viveport and Steam before the movie makes its way to theaters on March 29.

HTC is also adding to the movie marketing plan by launching a national VR arcade program that will distribute the SXSW content across the country.

Many prognosticators have predicted that the movie is in a unique position to deliver on the promise of VR, dating back to when the release was originally announced.

Just last week, Ready Player One released posters by leveraging nostalgia. The response, however, could best be described as mixed.

It will be a lot clearer how consumers feel about the film’s marketing ambush come springtime, and if SXSW and VR offered a helping hand to resonate with audiences long after they left theaters.

Under Armour Runs Through SXSW With Hovr House Zero Gravity Experience

Under Armour brought a “zero gravity experience” to SXSW to promote its new UA Hovr line of running shoes.

Visitors to downtown Austin, Texas, noticed a geodesic dome being erected on Wednesday, as pointed out by Twitter user HappySlice.

Dubbed Hovr House, the giant red dome arrived at SXSW after its first stops in LA and Shanghai last month. The pop-up experience filled its dome with athletes and celebrities among displays of UA Hovr running shoes and an “elevated track,” an aerial rig that lets users run up a vertical wall.

The activation follows the theme of its new lightweight shoes, “Gravity holds you down, feel how UA Hovr lifts you up.” This experiential marketing activation continues the biggest and most expensive campaign for a product the brand has ever done.

Under Armour’s experiential marketing campaign continues in Texas this weekend with pop-up running events, live UA footwear customizations by Dez Customz, an outdoor lounge and a VIP meet and greet event.

Hovr House will be open to the public beginning Saturday, March 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The athletic brand is throwing everything it has at its new UA Hovr line, beginning with a simultaneous world release—the first of its kind for Under Armour. Pop-up activations and influencer marketing play a significant role, going so far as to deliver shoes to online celebrities in white Rolls-Royce Phantoms. (Phantom is the name of one of Hovr’s first models.)

Digital ecommerce is ravaging retailers, and Under Armour is no exception. Last year, the company reported their first quarterly loss since going public in 2006. Under Armour shook things up by hiring a new COO and CMO in 2017 and is shifting focus to young consumers with technology like app-connected shoes and gaming.