Fox Sports Kickstarts World Cup Marketing Strategy at SXSW

As SXSW coincided with the 100-day countdown to the 2018 World Cup, Fox Sports saw an opportunity to kick off an experiential marketing strategy. The network built a studio activation designed to further test its content strategy before leaving for the games in Moscow this summer.

The network’s marketing goal for the World Cup is to better reach general sports fans through its programming—especially since the United States did not qualify for the competition this year. The network attempted this by raising awareness and creating excitement among fans with the Fox Sports House, a four-day activation that celebrated the lifestyle elements of soccer through livestreamed shows, film debuts, panel discussions and art.

“Having TV rights to the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so we had to do justice by properly marketing it, and SXSW was a great place to do that,” Lee Blevins, brand director of consumer marketing for Fox Sports, told AListDaily. “We have tremendous reach across all of our platforms and screens to promote the event, but we wanted to have a physical manifestation that created a lifestyle to market a cosmopolitan consumer group.”

Fox Sports’ content strategy for the World Cup consists of going beyond just linear TV by modifying unique opportunities on social platforms. So earlier this year, the network partnered with Twitter and Snapchat with a deal designed to amplify its live-event programming among digital natives.

At SXSW, the network produced four 30-minute livestream shows on Twitter so that it could further test and refine seamless viewing experiences and better learn what kind of content is resonating on each channel. The live Twitter shows and video clips included advertising packages that were also available for sponsors.

“It’s critical to have distribution partners to make our content accessible and for us to better reach our marketing goals,” said Blevins. “We want to tell stories the right way, but we also need reach different audiences.”

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.

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.

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.”

‘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.

‘Westworld’ Comes To Life At SXSW With Experiential Theme Park

HBO is marking the second season of the series Westworld with an experiential marketing activation at SXSW with over two acres of custom-built land that somewhat doubles as a theme park, maze and immersive theater.

Brands that venture to SXSW usually opt to take over popular venues in downtown Austin to market the masses, but HBO took it one step further this year with its installation by taking a two-step into the outskirts of Texas and building an entire town from the ground up about 20 minutes outside of the city. The experience is filled with Easter eggs designed to promote the show’s second-season, scheduled to premiere on April 22.

For the unaware, Westworld is a dark-odyssey show where rich vacationers are invited to a futuristic park to live in sin and without limits.

For SXSW, HBO conveyed an immersive experience about a show that itself is an immersive experience by recreating sets like The Coronado hotel and Mariposa Saloon and brought interactive actors to engage attendees as they explored the elements and hunted for clues for what might play out on TV next month.

HBO recruited 60 actors, six stunt people and five bands from the Austin area to bring Westworld to life.

Steven Cardwell, HBO’s director of program marketing and strategy, said SXSW served as a natural extension for the show’s marketing plan because the network had already served consumers with theatrical experiences and appetizers at San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con last year. There was even a hidden URL in the Westworld Super Bowl commercial that kick-started registration for the SXSW experience.

“There is a lot of fertile ground with Westworld,” Cardwell told AListDaily. “The universe of the show makes it a marketer’s dream to further build it out and engage fans. We’re going beyond the impression of a traditional advertisement at SXSW. It’s about creating a true experience that brings impact and buzz for us.”

HBO also partnered with eight co-branded Lyft cars and a special SXSW code that unlocks free rides that transport fans to the park each day the activation will be running till Sunday. There is also a Delta flight shuttle that brings guests to the park throughout the weekend. The network’s marketing plan included outdoor media and a 30-second TV spot that will be airing on local networks and invite people to visit Westworld.

Cardwell said “it was an investment well worth the price,” but couldn’t comment on how much HBO spent building the massive experience, which first started in November. 

“There is a lot of noise at SXSW, but we know that demand is there for the show,” Cardwell said. “We sold out of tickets in two minutes. We’re in our tune-in window right now, so it’s great to see that.”

Brian Duggan, founder of Building Alliances and an event strategist who was one of the hundreds of attendees that made the trek to Westworld for the opening preview on Friday night, said that as a fan of the show, the activation really gave him a feel for what it might be like to actually go to the theme park—even without the explicit sex and violence.

“I especially like how many mysteries and storylines were going on at once through their large-scale interactive theater experience, and the opportunity that offered for fans to really engage with these characters,” Dugan said.

Horror Show Premieres Put Video Game Engagements To The Test

While both AMC’s The Walking Dead and Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead feature plenty of gore, they couldn’t be more different—and their approaches to promoting their respective February premieres reflect that.

AMC leveraged its longstanding relationship with Next Games, makers of The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, to create a digital campaign called “Playtime with Jesus” that simultaneously draws attention to both the show and the mobile game. The goal is to engage audiences with the Walking Dead brand as more of a whole instead of its individual components. Meanwhile, Lionsgate, which purchased Starz in 2016, debuted an esports jersey sponsorship where Overwatch League team LA Valiant wore Ash vs. Evil Dead logos during competitions.

Clayton Neuman, VP of games and entertainment applications at AMC, told AListDaily the company shifted to a “Live + 365” approach to programming several years ago. That means that the company isn’t just engaging fans while the zombie-themed show is airing, but throughout the year using amusement park attractions, merchandise, video games and more. Therefore, No Man’s Land, which offers continuous interaction, provides a valuable opportunity to keep fans hooked.

This engagement includes “Playtime with Jesus,” a digital video series hosted on multiple platforms and shown during the mid-season premiere’s commercials. Neuman said AMC views the digital series as more than just an ad campaign, but as engaging content in and of itself, and it seems to have been a successful activation.

Data provided by social media analytics firm NetBase shows the video series, created in partnership with Next Games, netted millions of views across multiple platforms with hundreds of thousands of views on any given video. But NetBase product marketing manager Elvis Lieban also noted the Demolition Ranch YouTube channel’s Walking Dead sponsored video from December still holds the record for most views.

The videos, which have the actors demonstrating different aspects of No Man’s Land, feature the game more prominently than the show, but Neuman explains that players and viewers aren’t mutually exclusive audiences.

“We’re always trying to attract more players to the game, but that’s in service of giving our fans engaging content that they can enjoy throughout the year,” he said. “We feel these videos are so entertaining in their own right that our fans will not only seek out the full series to watch, they’ll be eager to check out the game afterwards. When they do, we’re confident they’ll find a great new way to explore the world of The Walking Dead.”

But franchise engagement doesn’t always mean higher ratings. Nielsen Live+Same Day data revealed that the season 8 mid-season premiere drew the lowest ratings in the show’s history. Netbase’s findings on social media tell a similar story, showing that the premiere generated 581,852 mentions. Comparatively, the season 8 premiere in October had 689,957 mentions. Still, The Walking Dead remains AMC’s top-rated show even with the apparent decline in viewership, and there were almost twice as many positive mentions than negative ones for the mid-season premiere.

AMC will continue to work closely with Next Games to ensure that No Man’s Land authentically represents the show by sharing marketing materials, scripts and photos with the developer. At the start of season 7, the game introduced special missions based on each night’s episode, which both engaged fans and incentivized players to tune in to live broadcasts.

“It’s important that the official game and the TV show go hand-in-hand,” said Saara Bergström, CMO at Next Games. “At the end of the day, the game is a great way for the show fans to engage with the franchise on a daily basis, and our job is to make sure we deliver on the promise of authenticity and stay true to the show.”

Lionsgate became an investor in the Immortals esports franchise last year and created LA Valiant from it to compete in the Overwatch League. The jersey sponsorship marks one of the first tests of how well the Overwatch League, which officially launched in January, generates awareness for its television shows. Ash vs. Evil Dead will be LA Valiant’s exclusive jersey sponsor through at least Stage Two of the inaugural season, and part of the deal includes giving fans access to Evil Dead experiences, such as exclusive showings at Lionsgate’s screening room in Santa Monica, followed by an Overwatch League watch party.

Esports fans are also given opportunities to interact with the show’s creators and meet members of the cast. Actors Ray Santiago (who plays Pablo Bolivar), Dana DeLorenzo (Kelly Maxwell) and Arielle Carver-O’Neill (Brandy Barr) attended a recent match and took pictures with the team and fans.

Daniel Engelhardt, vice president of Lionsgate Interactive Ventures and Games, told AListDaily the sponsorship wasn’t just about sticking a name or brand on a jersey. In addition to the Overwatch League’s high viewership, which pulled in over 10 million viewers in its opening week, the esports league is an important channel for the show because of its infrastructure, which is modeled after traditional sports franchises.

“One of the big things that attracted us to the [LA Valiant] franchise was their senior leadership’s team focus on high-quality storytelling and engagement with their community,” Engelhardt said. “They saw the Ash vs. Evil Dead partnership as a big win for both sides from that perspective. We get the chance to introduce this Starz franchise to their highly engaged community and Valiant gets the chance to offer unique experiences to their fans.”

According to Engelhardt, esports is the ideal way to engage with the show’s audience because a large percentage of viewers are “cord nevers,” meaning that they watch content online without having watched linear broadcast television. Starz has put increased emphasis on watching through its app and digital content partners in recent months, and Lionsgate felt that Evil Dead‘s combination gore and slapstick humor would resonate well with the audience.

“The series appeals to the same type of audience that engages with esports—the humor, the action, and of course, Bruce Campbell,” Engelhardt said, referring to the show’s main star. “Multiple generations of gamers are fans of Bruce, so we felt that in doing this sponsorship, we would be bringing Valiant fans content that they could get excited about and be proud to see on their team’s jersey.”

Although Engelhardt stated the sponsorship was positively received by fans, that enthusiasm didn’t necessarily translate into ratings. Nielsen data indicates that viewership is declining, which is a continuing trend from season 2. However, as more viewers switch to watching online and may prefer binge watching the season at its conclusion, judging the show’s success and whether the sponsorship has a measurable effect can be tricky. Other potential factors include how season 3 premiered in February instead of the show’s usual October time frame, and how the first two seasons were made available on Netflix in December, which might signal some viewers to wait instead of subscribing to Starz.

NetBase data shows the season 3 premiere brought 38,546 mentions across social channels, which is lower than the season 2 premiere’s 41,794 mentions. Lieban stated the partnership with Valiant brought “a bit over 1 percent of the total volume of conversation around the brand,” but that isn’t a clear indicator of whether the sponsorship is successful or not.

In any case, Lionsgate intends to focus on esports as an important area for marketing, community building and content creation. The media company is currently developing games with an eye on esports, and Engelhardt said the enthusiasm esports generates is critical to the brand’s success.

“We see this as a chance to build a long-term relationship with [Valiant], not just around Ash vs. Evil Dead, but other shows on Starz, [including] Power, Counterpart and more,” Engelhardt said. “We think this is a platform they’ll be excited to discover if they haven’t already, and through Valiant, we can continue to give them special experiences that take them behind the curtain.”

‘Ready Player One’ Posters Leverage Nostalgia To A Mixed-Bag Response

While nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, relying too heavily on the fond memories of consumers can make them feel protective. Ready Player One posters’ parody of classic films like Back to the Future and The Breakfast Club left some fans concerned and others inspired.

When Warner Bros. released movie posters that paid homage to classic films, fans said they felt insulted instead of nostalgic. Complaints quickly surfaced about the quality of the artwork as compared to original posters by Drew Struzan. The most common complaint, however, was in comparing Ready Player One to these classic films at all—as if doing so would be anything short of sacrilege.

The Ready Player One poster backlash serves as a cautionary tale about how marketers should treat nostalgia. In many cases, fond memories can entertain and encourage consumers to share franchises with new generations.

Stranger Things was rife with pop culture references from Steven King to video games of the 80s, but overall, fans embraced the nostalgia with open arms. The difference may lie in the fact that promotional art contained similarities but not direct references. Meanwhile, blatant pop culture references on the show were presented “in the wild” as a typical 80s kid might have encountered them naturally. This encouraged viewers to identify with the characters rather than feel that a new intellectual property is ripping off one they already know and love.

If you take the film marketing campaign at face value, it makes sense. Ready Player One revolves around a virtual reality world called the OASIS that allows users to be anyone and do anything they like. As we’ve seen from the trailer, the OASIS includes pop culture worlds and characters including Overwatch, King Kong, The Iron Giant and Back to the Future, just to name a few.

Ready Player One posters that pay homage to these and other franchises have been spotted around Los Angeles. The intention of this marketing campaign was most likely to illustrate how Ready Player One‘s characters can, and most likely will, interact or make reference to these films during their adventure.

Not all fans were angry. Others defended the campaign and its celebration of pop culture. After all, Ready Player One was directed by Steven Spielberg—a man single-handedly responsible for a wealth of pop culture.

Ironically, Warner Bros.’ attempt to leverage pop culture may have created a new meme. Angry or amused fans immediately began creating their own movie poster parodies in what the internet calls a “Photoshop battle.” Fan-created parodies of Warner Bros.’ posters began popping up that range in tastefulness from Paul Blart: Mall Cop to Schindler’s List.

A Guide To SXSW 2018 Parties

For those of you headed to SXSW, you should know that it’s basically one big party. Here’s your 2018 guide to help you navigate this annual get together of creatives and (productive) party animals.

This list is presented in chronological order and will be updated regularly. Did we miss anything? Let us know!

Note that SXSW badges are required unless otherwise noted. While not all events specifically say they are restricted to ages 21-and-over, be prepared to show ID if alcohol is served—and please celebrate responsibly. Food and drink may not be free, regardless of entry price.


FOX Sports House

Sports fans descend on the Hangar Lounge to kick off the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Expert panels, live show programming and special guests. Features food, drinks and entertainment.

When: Friday, March 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sports Kick-off Party runs from 7 to 10 p.m.
Where: Hangar Lounge, 318 Colorado St. Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film Badge
Price: Free


Comcast Social Media Lounge Hosted By TechSet

Back for its 11th year, the SXSW Social Media Lounge is a place to chill out with friends or make new ones. Technology, food, beverages and networking.

When: Friday, March 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 10 from 9:30 a.m to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Monday, March 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 19 A/B, 500 E. Caesar Chavez St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film Badge
Price: Free


SXSW Taco Meetup

Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays anymore. The 7th annual Taco Meetup at SXSW is hosted by Magento Commerce. Ticket holders can take a culinary tour of five taco restaurants from the Austin area. Vegetarian options will be available.

When: Friday, March 9 from 12 to 2 p.m.
Where: Brush Square Park, 409 E. 5th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film Badge
Price: Tickets can be purchased with SXSW badges


Nerdist House

Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy and Batman Stern pinball tournaments, live music, custom alter ego silhouettes made on site and a zombie marching band await you away from the crowds.

When: Friday, March 9 from 12:00 p.m. to Saturday,  March 10 at 12:00 a.m.
Saturday, March 10 from 12:00 p.m. to Sunday,  March 11 at 12:00 a.m.
Sunday, March 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden, 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: No badge required
Price: Free


Mashable House And MashBash: Time Warp

Celebrating cultural moments and tech innovations of the past, present and future with drinks, music, dancing and “maybe a few surprises.”

When: Friday, March 9 from 12 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 10 from 12 to 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: The Main, 610 E. 6th Ave. Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film Badge
Price: Free


Lesbutante And The Boss LBQTIA+ SXSW Bash

Party and network with a diverse host of entrepreneurs and creatives. Includes panels and a meet and greet. Those who RSVP get a drawstring backpack swag bag, a commemorative hat, guaranteed entry and a VIP section with available booth seating.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 9 p.m. to Monday, March 11 at 3 a.m.
Where: Sellers Underground, 213 W. 4th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: No SXSW badge required
Price: Free for general admission, VIP access available from $20-$100


Film Industry Happy Hour Hosted By Rotten Tomatoes

Networking with professionals from movies and TV.

When: Friday, March 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Intercontinental, Stephen P Austin Ballroom A, 701 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


Interactive Opening Party

SXSW official kick-off sponsored by Accenture Interactive. This annual shindig features live music, an open bar alongside Accenture’s ad tech and client demos.

When: Friday, March 9 from 8 to 11 p.m.
Where: Micheladas, 333 E. 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film Badge
Price: Free


Alita: Battle Angel Opening Party

A unique chance to visit the Iron City movie set for 20th Century Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel ahead of the film’s debut. A shuttle will take guests to Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios, where they will be joined by members of the film’s cast and crew for a celebratory get-together.

When: Friday, March 9 from 9:30 p.m. to Saturday, March 10 at 12:30 a.m.
Where: Shuttle picks up at the 5th Street side entrance of the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Austin, 500 E. 4th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


SingularDTV Post-Panel Cocktail: Tokenized Economics And Mixed Drinks

Discuss blockchain, content funding and production over a drink with SingularDTV’s Zach LeBeau, EDM producer Gramatik, XYZ Films’ Nate Bolotin and others.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 4:30 to 5:40 p.m.
Where: Austin Convention Center, Room 12AB, 500 E. Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX, 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Film Industry Happy Hour Hosted By Stream Space

One of many SXSW parties that are perfect for film and TV show enthusiasts.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Intercontinental, Stephen P Austin Ballroom A, 701 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


[a]list @ SXSW

Come hang out with us! Want to talk marketing? AListDaily has you covered. Stop by and connect with fellow marketing and media leaders over music, food and drinks.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Lambert’s Downtown Barbeque, 401 W. 2nd St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: If you haven’t RSVP’d, please email us at sxsw@alistdaily.com!
Price: Free


Interactive Mix At Six Party

Presented by Cogeco Peer 1, this mixer provides snacks, networking and presumably drinks, since the venue is 21+.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Swan Dive, 615 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Interactive and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


SXSW Social Impact Opening Party Presented By Handshake

Enjoy a lake view cocktail party and rub elbows with philanthropists, storytellers and entertainers.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 7 to 10 p.m.
Where: Waller Creek Boathouse, 71 Trinity St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


SXSW Film Festival 25th Edition Party Hosted By Ready Player One and Vive VR

An interactive experience based on the upcoming Warner Bros. film. Guests are invited to explore OASIS, the VR world from Ready Player One using Vive VR headsets and learn more about the film’s dystopian setting. The party features live DJ performances by Them Jeans.

When: Saturday, March 10 from 10 p.m. to Sunday, March 11 at 3 a.m.
Where: Brazos Hall, 204 E. 4th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


Crunch By Crunchfest

TechCrunch throws SXSW parties each year and tickets go fast. Meet writers and watch live performances by Autograf, Mobley, MIEARS and Glassio.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 12 to 4 p.m.
Where: The Sidewinder, 15 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Ticket required. Although RSVPs have closed, the site suggests contacting a TechCrunch writer for access.
Price: Free


Cities Summit Opening Party Presented By Bosch

The Cities Summit kicks off with networking and drinks.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Palm Door on Sixth, 508 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Viceland Party Lot

If your dream of SXSW parties involves farm animals, look no further. This three-day party bus includes drinks, music, swag, snacks and oh, yes—baby goats.

When: Sunday, March 11, Monday, March 12 and Tuesday, March 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: 98 Red River Lot., 98 Red River St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


John Hardy Celebrates International Women’s Day

A celebration of female strength as embodied by the Naga dragon of Balinese legend.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Four Seasons Terrace, 98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Red Bull Media Presents The Dawn Wall After Party

Celebrating the North American premiere of The Dawn Wall, a film by Red Bull Media and Sender Films. Join the cast and crew for an interactive installation, artwork, behind the scenes and of course, a few drinks.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 6 to 10 p.m
Where: Parlor & Yard, 601 W. 6th, Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum and Interactive badges only
Price: Free


IFC Midnight Presents A SXSW Party

My dudes. If you ever wanted to see Frodo playing a DJ set, you don’t want to miss this. Elijah Wood will DJ along with Zach Cowie (Wooden Wisdom) and Death Waltz & Mondo Vinyl.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 8 to 11:30 p.m.
Where: Charles Johnson House – American Legion, 404 Atlanta St., Austin, TX 78703
Requirements: 21+, Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


Dance Party With Gramatik And Friends

Hosted by SingularDTV, electronic music producer Gramatik wants you to know about his GRMTK crypto tokens. He’s celebrating his anticipated wealth with a live performance.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 9 p.m to Monday, March 12 at 2 a.m.
Where: Clearport, 516 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 18+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Film Industry Happy Hour Hosted By Killer Tracks

Another chance to hang out with fellow film and TV enthusiasts.

When: Sunday, March 11 from 9 p.m to Monday, March 12 at 2 a.m.
Where: Intercontinental, Stephen P Austin Ballroom A, 701 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


HappyHourLab With CityLab

A get together for those passionate about the future of their cities. Features a conversation with musical artist Tunde Olaniran about his hometown of Flint, Michigan.

When: Monday, March 12 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Four Seasons Terrace, 98 San Jacinto Blvd., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Strangeworks SXSW Launch Party

This brand new stealth quantum computing software startup is throwing a party. Come say hello.

When: Tuesday, March 13 from 8 p.m. to Wednesday, March 14 at 12 a.m.
Where: Lustre Pearl, 94 Rainey St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


Film Intermission Party Presented By Netflix

Right after the awards ceremony, shuttles will be available to take film buffs to an after party.

When: Tuesday, March 13 from 10 p.m. to Wednesday, March 14 at 1 a.m.
Where: Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704
Requirements: Film and Platinum badges only
Price: Free


Music Opening Party Presented By Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Underground

Kick off the SXSW Music Festival with drinks and live performances.

When: Tuesday, March 13 from 6 to 9 p.m., Riptide Music Festival runs from 9 p.m. to Wednesday, March 14 at 2 a.m.
Where: TBA
Requirements: Platinum or Music badge
Price: Free


Party At The Fort Worth Now House

This all-ages party features live music with free beer and whiskey, while supplies last. Performances by Quaker City Night Hawks, Grady Spencer & the Work, Abraham Alexander, Summer Dean and others.

When: Wednesday, March 14 from 1 to 6 p.m.
Where: Fair Market, 1100 E. 5th St., Austin, TX 78702
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


SXSW Hackathon After Party

A 24-hour hackathon ends not with sleep, but with drinks and music following the awards ceremony.

When: Wednesday, March 14 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: TBA
Requirements: Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free


SXSW Gaming Opening Party

Join The Attack‘s Alex Corea and enjoy a host nerdcore musical artists as they kick off the SXSW gaming festival. Live performances by Mega Ran, SAMMUS, Rockit Gaming, NerdOut! and Super Soul Bros.

When: Thursday, March 15 from 8 to 11 p.m.
Where: Hilton Austin Downtown, Grand Ballroom, 500 E. 4th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music, or Film badge
Price: Free


Sounds From Spain Paella Day Party

Sip on Sangria, munch on paella and watch live performances from Spanish artists including Neuman, Christina Rosenvinge, The Zephyr Bones, Los Wilds and Joe Crepusculo.

When: Friday, March 16 from 1 to 5 p.m.
Where: Brush Square Park, 409 E. 5th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music, or Film badge, artist wristband
Price: Free


SXSW Gaming Closing Party

Alas, the Gaming Festival must come to an end, but not the revelry.

When: Saturday, March 17 from 11 p.m. to Sunday, March 18 at 1 a.m.
Where: The Belmont, 305 W. 6th St., Austin, TX 78701
Requirements: 21+, Platinum, Interactive, Music or Film badge
Price: Free

While VR For Kids Is Low Priority, Family-Friendly Games Still On The Way

Oculus and other content publishers, particularly in the gaming space, are putting increased emphasis on the social aspects of virtual reality in an effort to win mainstream acceptance. While location-based experiences and competitive multiplayer games help to overcome the perception that VR is an isolating experience, some companies are also looking for opportunities in family-oriented entertainment.

But those doing so are making early bets. Kids and families aren’t a priority market, Stephanie Llamas, SuperData’s VP of research and strategy, told AListDaily. This is mainly because there isn’t much demand right now, as adults are still deciding whether to adopt VR for themselves, much less their kids.

Although some might see that as a good reason to put this audience aside, others view it as an opportunity to build a nascent market as awareness and adoption of VR technology continues to grow.

Playful, which also makes the Minecraft-like game Creativerse, developed Lucky’s Tale as a launch title for the Oculus Rift. It still comes free with purchase of the headset.

Mark Stanley, president and chief business officer at Playful, told AListDaily that offering the game for free was the most effective way to make the IP widely known, even among the relatively small number of headset owners when the Oculus Rift first launched, establishing Playful as a family-friendly brand. Awareness for the original Lucky’s Tale continues to grow as the price of VR hardware drops and more people purchase headsets for themselves.

“That’s a category that we’re going to be very clear on,” Stanley said. “That the experience with our content, whether it be VR or flat screen, is going to be a joyful experience and can bridge the gap between kids and parents.”

Establishing brand recognition is an important part of helping parents overcome their sense of apprehension when it comes to letting their kids try out experiences. Since you can’t always get a sense of whether VR content will be appropriate for kids, thinking of Playful along the same lines as Disney or Nintendo could go a long way. To this end, Playful expanded its franchise in November by partnering with Microsoft to launch Super Lucky’s Tale, a traditional action title it hopes will be regarded as the Mario game for the Xbox One platform.

Startup VR developer Rocket Worldwide also sees an opportunity when it comes to family entertainment and debuted Train Runner VR for the HTC Vive in December. The game, which involves constructing gadgets to rescue a puppy from a speeding train, will be updated with additional content in the future.

Rocket Worldwide CEO Doug Kryzan explained that there are essentially two target audiences—the first being the kids who will be playing the games and the other being their parents. The first step in engaging parents is to create entertainment that parents are comfortable with, meaning the games need to be non-violent while promoting aspects of personal empowerment and critical thinking.

Similar to Playful, Rocket is conveying the message that it is a brand that makes family-friendly games in order to appeal to both audiences. The company is doing this by taking a focused approach with its promotion, mainly relying on social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get the word out about Train Runner.

Both companies agree that VR content is currently geared heavily toward hardcore gamers. “There isn’t the same level of experiences for the wider audience,” Kryzan said. “So, as a game developer, we’re carefully watching this and working to understand what messages resonate with these two audiences and what the most effective ways to reach them are, given the maturity of the market.”

But Stanley believes engagement with a more hardcore audience is the key to growing awareness for family-friendly titles. For example, the communications Playful has done with the Xbox One community in partnership with Microsoft for the launch of Super Lucky’s Tale is helping to bring more attention to the original VR game.

“Xbox’s traditional target audience has not been kids and family,” Stanley said. “We just launched [Super Lucky’s Tale] in November, but we’re still finding new ways to reach kids and parents.”

However, according to Llamas, the ongoing view that VR is an isolating experience presents a major obstacle, especially as parents already battle the endless pull smartphones and computers have on kids.

To combat this perception, Stanley pointed out the “copilot mode” for the Xbox One game, where parents can help their children control the main character through trickier parts.

Rocket also plans to include cooperative play features in Train Runner in the future. But even though multiplayer will help VR be seen as a more social activity, Kryzan added that another opportunity comes in giving the nearby viewing audience—those who aren’t wearing headsets—a means of interacting with the game.

But the greatest challenge these companies face is that parents may not know whether or not VR headsets are safe for their children.

“Many manufacturers warn that kids under 13 should not use VR headsets, even though there is not enough scientific evidence proving one way or the other, so already that is a deterrent,” Llamas said.

Stanley believes VR has a long road ahead when addressing this matter. He said people need to have access to headsets outside of events such as E3 to gain a better understanding of the technology. That way, parents may become more comfortable with their kids trying out VR experiences. Both Playful and Rocket are currently in discussions with arcades and other location-based businesses to support their games, but Playful is also looking to develop non-VR theme park attractions based on the Lucky’s Tale franchise.

Llamas admits that even though the kids and family demographic isn’t essential to the growth of VR, since the money lies with tech-savvy adults, it will eventually become an important market.

Stanley agrees, and said it will be first adopters, comprised of older gamers with greater purchasing power, mixed with the massive content consumption teens and tweens have that will drive the VR market forward. He also added that the accessibility of VR content must be matched by the hardware for the market to grow.

“Setting up demo stations at every retailer across the country is a major investment, but I think it’s one that’s necessary to accelerate the install base and spread the understanding of what VR is,” Stanley said.