Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Texas, Awesome! A trip to SXSW and a bucket full of take aways.

I had the great opportunity to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas this spring. Or rather the „interactive“ part of the “South by Southwest” conference that covers digital, entertainment, film and music and has been growing year by year, now on in its 30th year. A conference that offers bucket loads of inspiration to people from across all disciplines. And that growingly has the attention from marketing and ad peoples as well.  And quite a few come back saying they will happily ditch Cannes Lions any time to go back to SXSW. I am definitely one of them.

Aside from a lot of superficial fun stuff like App and TV series launches, the all around BBQ, beer & taco SXSW-diet and huge parties from media houses and tech companies with a massive line up there is a lot to experience that not only substantiates your current beliefs and knowledge, but offers surprising new insights. 

My overall observation: There are so many elements that were present - and that at first sight are quite contradictory. Living in a world full of ambiguity lets us seek out balance in many ways. Brands will play a strong role in finding ways to remove these tensions. 

And this list of contradictions can probably be much longer. In summary nine key topics emerged for me. 

I have put together a full presentation with more details on all the above topics. You can find it here. I am happy to learn from others if this matched your own SXSW experience. For me, SXSW was about the perfect conference. Something that was so worth going to, even if Austin is not around the corner. It lets you immerse in a diversity of topics that can hardly be found anywhere in such richness. It goes much beyond what I expected from a conference about "interactive" and touches on many aspects of current culture and what drives communication and brands today. It let me connect to a wide array of people - some I knew before, but a lot of fresh faces and thoughts crossed my path. And the atmosphere in Austin is definetly unmatched. So the prospect of going to Cannes Lions in June is still appealing - but where Cannes is celebrating the very few, Austin felt like a very inclusive place. And while Cannes is much more about looking back on things that  have happened - Austin is all about looking forward and into the future.