It’s a Manic (in a good way) Monday at SXSW 2016! It’s our last full day and we took full advantage. It’s a balmy 90 degrees outside and we wish we could jump in a pool!
Our day started off with a SouthBites food panel, Dining and Design: The Details Make the Meal with Jeff Butler from FODA Studio, Keith Kreeger from Keith Kreeger Studio, Andrea Slonecker, and Chef Matt McCallister from FT33 and Filament restaurants in Dallas (also Lauren’s former client). Highlights from the panel included:
~ The main goal with design is to bring the guest an experience.
~ Objects and experiences make you connect with someone – plate ware and food is a great example.
~ The objects you use to eat are just as important as what you’re putting on them.
Then we spent the rest of our morning learning about building and maintaining an active fan base for your brand with Aja Romano from The Daily Dot, Ashleigh Gardner, head of writer and publisher partnerships for Wattpad, Mike Rugnetta, host of the PBS Idea Channel and Yashoda Sampath, research director at Huge. Marketing to fandom isn’t just about slapping the word “super” onto an existing subculture. You need to find new ways of thinking about branding and consumer loyalty. Highlights from the session included:
~ Not every brand is meant for social media – you have to know who you are and stay true to your fan identity. Every one of your messages has to be authentic to your brand because fans are savvy. If you are going to be marketing to fans, you have to place your brand into the fans’ hands.
~ There is no excuse for faking it and you have opportunities to not be inauthentic because you have direct access to the fans that love your business or product.
~ Create the tools that allow the fans to create for themselves – don’t tell them what to create but give them the hammer and the nails to create content.
After a quick break to grab a smoothie, it was time to head to the next session! While waiting for the panel to start, we ventured to the BazaarVoice lounge and got a free chair massage. So great! The panel was up next with Heidi Browning from Panodra, Peggy Byrd from The Ad Council, Lana Khavinson from LinkedIn for Good, and Ryan Maynard with Kik. Highlights from the panel include:
~ Ask clients – what social issues do you care about? What social issues do you already support? Brands have to live up to their CSR.
~ We want to elevate brands as heroes – sales messaging needs to be subtler.
~ Pandora and Little Kids Rock partnership: Pandora brings bands and musicians to schools that participate in the program which is about unleashing inner musicians in children which is a problem because there isn’t enough school funding for the arts in schools.
~ Kik: A social networking platform for young teens – the most popular app teens use on their phone – teens use on average for 74 minutes a day. The brand is about empowering today’s youth and speaking the language of youth.
~ LinkedIn for Good: Connects professionals with opportunities to impact the world. Members can flush out their profile with a volunteer and causes section. To date, 30 million members have filled out this section and 8 million members have said they are interested in skilled volunteering and board service.
Following this panel, we decided to stroll to East Austin, and see the Spotify House and other brand activations on that side of town. We came across a recharge lounge where the Austin Humane Society had FREE puppy cuddles – you couldn’t find two more excited people to get these puppies. After a few Tweets and questions to volunteers, we FINALLY found the puppies and got lots of kisses and love. Then, we headed on a walk and found the Spotify House and some delicious Mexican food for lunch. What else do you eat while you’re in Austin?
Our next panel was about SXSW’s biggest trend of this year – virtual reality, or VR for short. Highlights from this panel include:
~ Media brands like Showtime, The New York Times and National Geographic are building VR platforms. Every major network and studio is creating content for this platform.
~ It’s now the year of VR for the consumer – great storytelling is happening with directional sound – now we will get a sense for how long people are going to spend with these headsets – will people keep them on for four hours, six hours, will they get sick?
~ Merging gaming and film culture – with film, you can empathize with the character because you are in a dark room and you are immersed in their world. Often in games, you have control but you aren’t as immersed in the story. With VR, you can be Belle in Beauty in the Beast – but if you give the viewer first person control, they may not know what to do. The truth is that nobody knows – we are in the early days and it’s about experimentation to find out how best to tell stories.
Our next panel, titled How a Mexican Beer Courted the “Mercado General” featured David Hernandez from Ogilvy & Mather, Raul Ruiz from Modelo Espsecial, Sam Spratlin from Ogilvy and Chase Turner from Tumblr. Highlights from this panel include:
~ Latino culture is growing rapidly – pretty soon, 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will be Latino.
~ This population growth is making a major impact on food and drink – cocktails are becoming “latinized,” more non-Latin chefs are embracing the cuisine, non-Latinas are starting to embrace Latin holidays like Day of the Dead.
~ If we haven’t done our homework on an expression we talk about on social media, our customers will call us out on it. Be a brand that celebrates Mexican culture in a way that resonates with everybody.
Our final panel of the day was back in the culinary world with a panel about Netflix’s hit series, Chef’s Table. If you haven’t watched this series – you are missing out! The panel included Abigail Fuller with Chef’s Table, David Geld with Chef’s Table, Enrique Olvera, featured chef, Ana Ros, featured chef and Adam Sachs, editor in chief with Saveur Magazine. Highlights from the panel include:
~ Seeing the awesome trailer for upcoming seasons 2, 3 and 4.
~ The original idea of the show was to do something about planet earth and food – the team decided it was more interesting to make it a human story rather than one about a specific subject or place.
~ The show’s directors look for chefs whose food presents a story and features dishes that have an emotional content in their lives.
~ Directors spend 2 weeks with each chef learning everything about them – from the local culture to their family and everything in between. One director told the group she rafted class 2 rapids and foraged mushrooms in Slovenia all in the same day.
All we can say is now – we can’t wait until May 27 when the season 2 comes out!
Well, that wraps up our final full day here at SXSW in Austin. We’re excited to come back to Houston and bring even more knowledge and creativity to the team.
SXSW sweet dreams,
Lauren and Emily
P.S. Don’t forget to browse through our Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 recaps.