SXSW is known for its experiential marketing activations and this year was no different. For over a week, Austin became a hub for brands to connect with guests with immersion and FOMO.
Austin’s bustling downtown city streets may have been the epicenter of brand interaction, but one of the most-talked-about activations was about 20 miles outside of town. To promote the second season of Westworld, HBO built a town from the ground up and filled it with actors to entertain its guests.
“I don’t think I’ve been a part of any conversation over 20 minutes that didn’t eventually talk about Westworld,” one SXSW attendee told AListDaily.
Attendees were seen walking around SXSW wearing either a white or black hat and carrying souvenirs from the Westworld experience, which helped fuel conversation and social media sharing ahead of the show’s April 22 premiere.
Dell returned to the festival with “The Experience,” a display of technology, discussions and how artists use technology in creative ways, such as building a portal out of circuit boards.
Pinterest House took over Austin’s Container Bar to teach guests how the social network helps its users discover new ideas.
“It was just a great way to expose us to how data and images could be used potentially from Pinterest in the future,” one attendee said.
Steven Spielberg held a screening for Ready Player One at SXSW, and Warner Bros. made sure everyone knew it. A parade of troopers dubbed the IOI Sixers stormed up and down downtown Austin calling for the capture of Wade Watts—the main character of Ready Player One—and offered people passing by a $1 million reward.
In Brazos Hall, HTC Vive set up eight pieces of VR content across separate demo bays. The idea was to emulate technology and a sense of wonder from both the film and the book it was based on.
One SXSW who visited the activation told AListDaily that Ready Player One pretty much “nailed it.”