South by Southwest is in full-swing again with a wide array of film screenings, concerts, speakers, interactive exhibitions and more. Dedicated to the broad mission of ” helping creative people achieve their goals,” SXSW brings together innovate brands, artists, thought leaders and consumers for 10 immersive days in Austin, Texas.
Many big brands set up shop for the event in Austin with interactive experiential activations for consumers to fully immerse themselves in. These activations are heavy hitters for brands because they bring together impressive size and scale, buzzworthy theatrics and immersive experiences with their products. But also, many of them are just plain cool.
Here are five coolest examples of how brands are using experiential marketing at SXSW this year.
1. Google’s Smart Home
While this one is a little creepy in my eyes, Google turned an Austin home into a fully-automated AI mecca to promote their Google Assistant. The home consists of 12 rooms where consumers are able to see firsthand how Google is able to automate daily tasks. From simple tasks such as lowering the blinds and playing music to more complex operations including operating a mechanized hand to organize laundry, all of that can be done in Google’s Smart Home. For Google, this is a chance to show consumers the many ways Google Assistant can help at home throughout the day just as one would use in their actual home.
2. Bumble’s Real-Life Dating App
The dating app, Bumble, has been around for three years and boasts an impressive 30 million users worldwide. The app created an interactive exhibition at SXSW with sections to walk through for their three platforms—Bumble Bizz, Bumble BFF and Bumble Date. Attendees can even meet with Bumble team members to tweak their profiles and go on quick, five minute dates. The takeaway here is connection – and by creating a physical space that brings users together, Bumble is showcasing that they don’t just care about swipes and messages, they also care about the connections their users are making in the real world through the power of their app.
3. HBO’s Westworld Activation
HBO paired up with creative agency Big Spoon to create a real-life version of Sweetwater, the setting for HBO’s Westworld, to promote the show’s second season. Once bussed two miles outside of Austin to the activation site, attendees are able to immerse themselves in a fully experiential version of the show’s town, complete with taverns, music venues and actors portraying townspeople. The experience gives attendees the feeling that they are in the show and increases their excitement to watch the coming season. If you’re a fan of the show, it seems like you’ll definitely want to check this out.
4. Budweiser’s Country Club
As part of SXSW this year, Budweiser is creating its own country music festival at the Fair Market event venue in Austin. Only open for one day on March 15th, the music fest which will feature performances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Kane Brown and Elle King is a prime opportunity for Budweiser to get their beer in the hands of hundreds of thirsty concert-goers. Budweiser will be bringing its Country Club experience to country music events throughout the US this spring and summer.
5. Starz’s Sensory Space
To promote its two new shows, Sweetbitter and Vida, Starz worked with local Austin all-female vendors to produce a sensory experience focusing on all five senses: taste, smell, sight, touch and hearing. With candy and wine for taste, a perfume bar for smell, the walk-through of the physical space for sight, manicures for touch and music for sound, this interactive experience aims to create an immersive experience while also trying to gain new viewers to the show. While attendees sip on wine and get manicures, loops of trailers from the two shows play on screens throughout the space, giving Starz a captive audience.
Living in the experience age, it makes sense that brands would be jumping at the opportunity to put their experiential marketing tactics to play at an incredibly immersive event such as SXSW. Have you attended any cool experiential brand events? Did it make you want to buy from their brand more? Let us know in the comments!