March 20, 2012

3 Things I learned at SXSW

1) There’s an app for that.

Of the thousands of descendants into Austin every March, I’m almost positive that 86% of them are there to launch an app. Flyers are thrust into your hands everywhere you go, QR codes are attached to every available surface and downloads are traded for t-shirts. There’s just so much noise… Everyone is telling me that they’ve created something revolutionary, something unique, something jobs created the iPhone for.

All I want to do is nap.

We get it, your hot new social app is better than their new social app, and it’s going to be the biggest thing ever. Yeah, I promise to download it when I next get Wifi, now pass me a free burrito.

2) People are Cyborgs

In the same way that the 90s gave birth to the slashies (e.g. Model/Actor Model/Singer, Model/Model) SXSW has created a new race of humanoids designed to serve your every technological need. Phone out of battery? No problem, here’s a Fed Ex guy with plugs coming out of his arms. No Wifi? Don’t fret, there’s a homeless guy over there you can use as a hotspot.

Whilst the press went ape over the ‘Homeless Hotspot’ initiative (designed to be a source of income and a way to get members of the public to engage with rough sleepers) I thought that BBH had done a good job of creating a lot of debate and noise around homelessness.

That said… The irony of making small talk with someone homeless whilst they power your £400 iPhone 4s, so you can tweet about your £1000 platinum conference pass is almost too much to bear.

3) Intel are pretty much the coolest brand ever.

After seeing the magnificent Alejandra Carvallo speak at at the Sheraton, I’ve suddenly come over all dewey eyed for the big brand that thinks digitally.

Amongst other things, she spoke of brands trusting the wisdom of agencies, always thinking like a start up, offering artistic freedom for brand ambassadors and of listening to the conversation. Not just choosing to listen to the fabulous feedback their agencies give them, but reading every single YouTube comment, every single tweet and every single wall post themselves and responding when appropriate . The talk was called ‘Big Brands and You: Make The Love Connection’ and I walked away with a new thing to get fangirlish about.

Touche’ Intel. Touche’ indeed.