By Matthew Klein

March 14th, 2015

Falcon Social is heading way west for SXSWi again this year. We’re looking forward to, well, all of it. We already talked a bit about the panels that we’re most excited for there, and we’ll be tweeting about what we see from @falconsocial during the festival.

 Alongside all the keynotes and parties, brands put a huge amount of effort into unique marketing campaigns/experiences/activations conceived for the savvy crowd of festivalgoers. When done well, SXSW brand campaigns can have a major impact on a brand visibility, given the number of media outlets and influencers in attendance in Austin.  

There’s been a lot of memorable stuff done in recent years. Last year, Penzoil created an IRL Mario Kart experience for attendees, complete with banana peels, and got a lot of coverage from it. Oreo showed off its tech chops with space where custom Oreos could be 3D printed for hungry attendees.

How some brands get it right
The coolest campaigns for the conference are not just clever, they take into account the spirit of the festival and the crowd. SXSW mixes tech and art in Austin’s proudly weird environs, and the most interesting campaigns have a similar flavor.  

We’ve already taken a look at which brands are creating conversations on social media ahead of the festival. And we’ll be keeping track of who’s getting the most traction during the proceedings with our Social Media Leaderboard, a ranking of brand engagement for companies (and influencers) present at SXSW.

Some of these campaigns are kept under wraps until the very last minute, but there’s a fair amount of advance buzz for some. Before the festival kicks off, here are some of the activations that we’re eager to see.

Data, meet meat
General Electric is in the field of food technology, building futuristic ovens for restaurant and home cooks alike. They are also skilled marketers, with an engaging presence on social, including a cool tumblr that we’ve talked about before. They are poised to smoke out the competition by bringing a monster barbecue apparatus to the festival. The giant machine will dole out barbecue and data about temperature, moisture and more for hungry conference goers. It’s a great mix of high-tech and down-home, and perfect for the festival crowd. For the purists, lower-tech BBQ from local eatery Louie Mueller BBQ will also be available.

Mazda zooms in
First-time festival sponsor Mazda is all over the festival map, hopefully in a good way. Sometimes, practical is as welcome as creative, and plenty of people will probably appreciate a free shuttle, considering the occasional, err, logistical difficulties that Austin presents. It will also give the crowd a look at the new Mazda CX 5, and hopefully some publicity for the automaker. 

Mazda will also partner with an interesting-sounding company called Mogees, makers of a technology that “turns physical objects into unique music instruments“ in order to make one of their vehicles into a musical instrument. It should look something like this:


The carmaker will also work with racing game Forza Horizon 2 to put together a virtual reality driving / gaming experience. Follow it all with #MazdaSXSW.

Jaguar’s VR PR
New technology is a pillar of SXSW. In recent years, virtual reality has made waves at the festival. People were blown away by last year’s Game of Thrones Oculus Rift experience. For 2015,  Jaguar is setting up a virtual reality activation that sounds like it will be worth a stop. Playing on the idea that a Jaguar is a great car for an evil mastermind, the company has set up an #everyvillainneeds contest to send people to the festival this year. Winners will get to see Jaguar’s virtual reality Boffin Lab, which they partnered with Wired Insider to create.

All aboard the #Techquila express
As far as other forms of transportation go, we are looking forward to seeing Patrón’s Tequila train. That might sound like a drinking game, but it’s not. The luxury train car, owned by billionaire John Paul DeJoria, founder of Patrón Tequila, will roll into the festival and provide refreshment and entertainment to the thirsty crowd. The combination of cocktails and old-west opulence sounds like it will be a winner with the southwest crowd.

These campaigns are poised to do well because they’re creative, and because they really fit with the festival. They aim to help meet people’s needs—transportation, food or alcohol related, or to entertain people with tech (rather than just showing it off).

This is just a smattering of the activations that will inevitably pop up this year in Austin. We’ll be tweeting what we see, all the cool stuff, big and small, from @FalconIO

Cover photo credit: Kris Krüg

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