Marketing Innovations and Storytelling Inspiration at SXSW 2023

A spectacular lightning storm may have lit up Austin on the seventh day of SXSW, but it didn’t slow the show’s momentum for a second.

Maybe it’s appropriate, because SXSW can provide attendees with a sudden burst of inspiration, like a lightning bolt from the sky. But without all the unfortunate wetness and power outages.

If you’re a marketer in any even tangentially related industry, you should find the time to attend the South By Southwest Convention, which takes place at the Austin Convention Center in Texas every year. Not only so you can catch some great music, spot a celebrity, or just blow off some steam, but because it’s one of the premiere conventions for networking, advertising, education, and most importantly inspiration.

2023 is the year Variety called “the first real SXSW in four years,” and we’re excited to take a look back at not only this year’s show but why marketers who can’t make it are missing out.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see you there in 2024.

Be on Deck for the Hottest Trends and Freshest Gossip

A man in VR gear

Trends are born in the ten days of SXSW, but they’re also revealed and mainstreamed there, too. Being on the ground at SXSW makes it much easier to see where entertainment, marketing, and technology could be going in the next year (or the next decade).

Virtual and Hybrid Expriences. SXSW 2023 held the “XR Experience,” which showed off a bevy of the latest AR, VR, and hybrid technology currently shaping storytelling in all of its forms. The “Body of Mine” VR trailer in particular was fascinating, creating an interactive experience that played with gender, sensation, and story.

Social Media. Tech Reporter Nitasha Tiku and others discussed the state of social media in 2023 at the interactive “Social Media Town Hall.”

Film and TV. If you’re an Evil Dead fan, you got to see grizzled-but-handsome horror icon Bruce Campbell curse out a rude heckler and kick them out of a screening.

The Tech Industry. Silicon Valley Bank went down on the first day of SXSW, causing a scramble among attendees for news, support, and probably a few drinks. “Trust in tech” came up a lot, and marketers and attendees on the floor got to take part in some enlightening and frightening conversations about the future of a number of companies.

Marketers obviously benefit from learning about this storytelling technology, and can have a massive advantage staying abreast of VR, social media, film, TV, and tech, which represent only a partial array of experiences at SXSW.

Get Inspired by Outrageous Ideas and New Strategies

Terry Crews in his Herbert Camacho costume, an American-flag themed jumpsuit. He also has a magnificent wig and mustache.

Marketing is about grabbing attention, but it’s also about fulfilling a need. When Terry Crews showed up as his beloved fictional President of the United States Dwayne Elizando Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, he did both.

It turns out his appearance had nothing to do with an Idiocracy sequel. Instead, Terry Crews drove a parade truck through Austin, posed for pictures, shouted slogans like “Tony Stark Died for Our Sins,” and released new President Camacho election speeches to draw attention to his creative agency, Super Serious.

With some multichannel support on Twitter, of course.

Terry Crews is Co-Founder, CEO, and Head of Design for Super Serious, which at the moment we don’t know much about. But we know the name, and we know Terry Crews is making big moves in the creative space.

This hilarious stunt was a perfect encapsulation of how marketers should see SXSW: as a method of inspiration, but also as a way to combine popular entertainment, a good product, and something in the public consciousness to create something new. Something memorable.

Workshops, Panels, and Networking Nearby

The city of Austin skyline

One of the coolest things about SXSW–any huge convention, really–is how even if you can’t make it to the convention center proper, Austin is bursting with events that are related to SXSW and just as worth attending.

The “off-campus” event we found the most success with this year was the Brand Innovators Marketing Leadership Summit, held from March 10th to March 13th (coincidentally also the first three days of SXSW).

Inspira’s Chief Engagement Officer, Dan Sullivan, moderated a panel featuring K.C. Blinn, VP of Marketing at Blue Triton Brands. The panel was called “The State of Experiential & Effectiveness: Driving Experiences That Reach Your Consumers & Benefit Your Business,” and featured K.C. and Dan talking experiential marketing.

Check out the full video below:

Video: The State of Experiential & Effectiveness: Driving Experiences That Reach Your Consumers & Benefit Your Business

Marketers who attended Brand Innovators–or even just watched the video above–will come away with a better understanding of experiential storytelling. How sharing stories requires a crowd, and the importance of long-form experiences to word-of-mouth buzz.

FOMO No More

We hope this helped give you a small peek at the kind of experiences marketers can benefit from at SXSW (and other conventions), and why how big conventions can be wonderful opportunities to learn and spread brand stories.

To learn more about SXSW 2023, or how to start planning a brand experience for 2024, reach out to Inspira Marketing today.

For related news, check out our coverage of Expo West 2023.

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