Event marketing is valuable for creating buzz, gaining brand awareness, and building relationships between brands and consumers. This past weekend, various brands took the initiative to capitalize on this at SXSW by hosting brand activations. At many of these activations, brands gave away merchandise, provided photo opportunities, drinks, food, samples and more. These events are uniquely valuable as consumers get to see the brand come to life by experiencing all their interactive offerings, fostering a true connection with the brand. Because attendees can easily connect with the brand on a personal level, they find it easy and almost organic to post their experiences on social media promoting the brand maximizing their reach to not just SXSW but to all attendees’ followers as well.
Throughout the weekend, we attended events hosted by Lush, Paramount +, Dolby, Roku, UT Austin, and more. The most exciting event that we attended was Roku. The purple logo up and coming TV brand rented a multi-story building and turned the space into “Roku City.” Each room had a different theme, making us feel like we were experiencing Roku City in a modern, magical version of real time. The actors in each room were highly animated and unbelievably engaging, never breaking character. Overall, the event was incredibly captivating and has even remained a topic of conversation throughout the weekend because of how unexpected and whimsical the experience was.
Although the Roku event was exciting and unique, the user experience before the event could have been better. The bouncers outside the venue were aggressive, creating negative energy while waiting to attend the event. Additionally, the event only allowed four people in at once to make the experience feel personal. While the intimate numbered group received lots of one one attention inside, it created a long waiting time for people outside in the middle of the street causing traffic, ultimately taking away from the user experience.
This weekend we saw first-hand that in advertising sometimes wait times are unavoidable due to the personable connection we are trying to build with the consumer, however failing to provide an enjoyable captivating experience from start to finish is avoidable. The sound software system Dolby also struggled with this issue of extreme wait times however by the second day the brand had developed a quicker line system showing the importance of editing and being flexible with events in order to satisfy the consumer. Apart from making real time event changes, the Dolby event allowed attendees to sit inside a luxury car inviting them to sit back, relax, and imagine themselves driving with the surreal surround sound. Representatives from the Dolby team were in the vehicle to explain the engineering and technology behind the system to groups of threes. This was a very unique, personal, and exciting experience for both the brand and the consumer. Despite the wait times, Dolby welcomed consumers into various other rooms and even had a chicken and waffle car while consumers were waiting. Dolby provided a seamless, engaging experience start to finish as they interacted with the consumer before, during, and even after the event completing the entire consumer journey positively. The way to truly captivate the consumer is to establish a level of connection from the very first minute you reach them to the very end.
Finally, Paramount + hosted a fantastic event throughout the weekend. Paramount + rented a large venue with multiple floors and various activities. This event was the best because there were many options of things to do, thus creating a more manageable flow throughout the experience. Each section of the event promoted a different show or movie on Paramount +. There were many photo opportunities, and fabulous specialty cocktails that matched the themes of the promoted films. Also, the Paramount experience was outstanding as they had fun activities that were not strictly related to any movie or show in specific as well. These activities included basketball, painting vinyl records, henna tattoos, and more. This created a fun and uplifting atmosphere and encouraged attendees to stay at the Paramount event for a long time.
Overall, this weekend was filled with fun and exciting brand activations. It was great to participate in these activations and see how event marketing can be utilized. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about these brands, bonding with one another, and learning more about the world of advertising and brand activations.