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SXSW: Day 3 Recap

SXSW: Day 3 Recap

Havas Global Comms

Havas Global Comms

March 13, 2019

Social causes, breaking barriers, and 3-D printed sushi.

As the interactive portion of the SXSW festival winds down, Havas Media US brings us some more highlights and insights from Austin. (Check out takeaways from Day 1 and Day 2.)

 

Adam Stolz, Supervisor Ad Ops:

So, for Day 3 at SXSW there was another (unintentional) theme to my day and that was “Audio” or “The Future of Audio.” Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to bat a thousand at panels and sessions here, so while the panels I listened to weren’t up to par with some of my previous sessions, I did glean some important details for an audio conversation with our clients and colleagues. It was also such great timing because last Wednesday the Chicago office hosted a Sonic Takeover day in which Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio all came and gave great presentations about their business models and how they see their business moving forward in the future.

The panel that stuck out to me yesterday was about the “Future of Audio” but really focused on the realm of podcasts, which for some is sacred territory. I love podcasts. I have a few I love to listen to, however, I’m not as much of a die-hard fan as some of my other friends. It’s an interesting space that will at some point be invaded by advertisers just as the (I can’t believe I’m going to use this term) “blogosphere” was engulfed with them many years ago. I think a big attraction for a lot of people is the DIY/grassroots vibe that podcasts present. Whether you know him or not, you may feel as though you have a connection to Marc Maron because you listen to him every day and feel a closeness due to how this space provides it. I think in order to maintain/respect the podcast genre for what it is, custom content will have to play an extremely important role. Podcast listeners constitute a dedicated audience covering a multitude of demos, but I feel they’ll want content directed to them, not thrown at them in the middle of their favorite listening session.

Later in the day some of our Havas colleagues and I had lunch with our amazing Spotify reps at a restaurant called Geraldine’s. Again, coming off an amazing sonic day I was excited to share my positive feedback about their presentation and learn more about the next steps on the horizon for their business. “Talking shop” aside, they are just great people with great senses of humor and it was fun to share some laughs over a delicious lunch. I can’t say enough good things about them – and their product (which I use religiously).

Then to add one little “audio footnote,” at the end of the day we all gathered for our Havas Happy Hour at the LINE Hotel. It was really great to reconnect with people and see how their SXSW experiences have been so far. Then the fact that Dan Nakamura was in attendance kind of blew me away. If you don’t know who Dan is, he goes by his production name, “Dan the Automator” – and he is easily one of my top favorite hip-hop producers of all time. He’s worked on projects such as The Handsome Boy Modeling School, Dr. Octagon, and the Gorillaz. Keeping my fandom to nil, it was really amazing to talk with him and learn he was down here because he scored Olivia Wilde’s new movie Booksmart – what a humble man and inspiration to me for many years. That was a treat.

Kristen Ziaks, VP, Director Communications Strategy:

Major Takeaways:

How Streetwear Turns Hype Into $$

The explosion of streetwear, driven in part by sneaker and hip-hop culture, is now permeating all aspects of the zeitgeist. Everyone from artists to chefs, to designers and photographers, are embarking on collabs and driving hype through limited-release product drops. This panel discussed what connects customers with certain brands to drive that hype, and how to sustain it in a culture where consumers are always looking for the “next thing.”

Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation, Levi Strauss

  •      “Your brand voice matters: Maintaining authenticity and aesthetic neutrality that allows you to flex is essential and truly a challenge. It’s not easy, there’s no formula.”
  •      When asked about whether aligning with these social issues worries him in the sense of losing potential customers that don’t align with Levi’s brand values: “Blowback on these social issues has no correlation with sales.”
  •      Levi’s collab with 13th Witness at NBA All-Star Weekend wasn’t about being at ASW with the glitz and glam. It was about tapping into the culture surrounding it, which started with the fans: “The love of basketball is born on the local court, in the neighborhoods and communities closest to you. That love of the game, and the photographer who celebrates these neighborhoods, are what drove me.” This collab sold out in 1 minute. This has been a central theme across talks: What is the broader cultural conversation driving the story that connects us on a human level?
  •      In developing products that will drive demand, Dillinger explained that it starts with how you want consumers to feel when they interact with your product. What type of emotion are you trying to evoke? This is how you develop items that are designed for sustained moments in life vs. designed for one moment in time.

Boutique Streaming Services

There are a lot of continued themes here around developing engaging narratives that will connect. This panel spoke about competing against the behemoths using specialized services and what it takes to break through.

On the importance of risk-taking:

  •      “It doesn’t have to have a direct tie to revenue but needs to have a role within the larger business ecosystem. You need to have an approach to experimentation for a business that’s looking to grow.” — Jack Constantine, CDO of Lush Cosmetics

ACLU and Why Brands Are Getting Involved with Criminal Justice Reform

The ACLU brought together a panel of marketers who are taking a stance on social causes to discuss why they felt it was so important to get involved, and how they have successfully made it part of their brand ethos and marketing strategy.

On the importance of listening to your communities:

  •      “You need to present as authentic by listening to them and building with them. This is not a marketing exercise. We do this work because it’s a tenet f off-core values. When you stand for what you believe in, you won’t suffer as a company. Inspiring people is great, but are you getting other people to listen AND act? That’s powerful” — Ben and Jerry’s

Global Director of Brand and Marketing at Puma, Adam Petrick, on why Puma felt it was important to launch #reform:

  •      “We have to as a company stand for something. We can do good and act in the right way, and it can have an impact on our bottom line. I’d rather consumers be clear on our mission and stand for something than not do it at the risk of losing them on the chance that they don’t align with our values.”

How Does This Affect Our Clients and Our Business?

An overarching theme was about establishing a brand purpose, with clear tenets and values and not being afraid to reinforce them through behavior and comms. In a digital world where consumers are so quick to voice their opinions, it can be scary for brands to take even calculated risks, but the overwhelming feedback from these leaders was that the benefits outweigh the concerns. In the long run, more people will connect with a brand that stands for something larger and uses its platform for good, than be turned off because it doesn’t align with their values.

Jess Santini, Communications Manager:

#IsThisThingOn

As we know from our Meaningful Brands study, 77 percent of brands could disappear and no one would care. Even more alarming is that in a world full of noise, millennials have embraced an inherently silent world in order to cut through the clutter. According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound despite over 2 million “sound on” tweets having been published in 2018.

In order to inspire users to turn up the volume, Tom Chirico, Creative Strategist at Twitter, suggests we think of engagement as a debate, rather than a click, share, or comment. Real engagement is when audiences are inspired to dive in and dissect content. He notes that in order to have an informed debate, you need to activate both sight and sound equally, focus on quality, and have a meaningful purpose.

“No one notices when sound quality is good, but they always notice when it is not,” added Sarah Gibble-Laska, CEO of Chapter Four.

Whether you look at Gillette’s recent Toxic Masculinity ad or the viral Yanny or Laurel soundbite, they both create unique experiences that inspire users to opt in and form opinions.

And don’t be afraid of a little controversy. When Nike launched its Colin Kaepernick ad in 2018, a firestorm of reactions flooded the internet, resulting in record engagement with the brand and a 9 percent increase in revenue in just 3 months. While a good portion of the reaction was less than complimentary, it was an overall win for their campaign strategy.

Jenn Bjorklund, Connections Planning Director:

Major Takeaways:

The once seemingly crazy ideas reflected in science fiction films are now within closer reach than ever, and companies like SAP spoke to using such films as inspiration for innovation.  b8ta and Google teamed up to build out a [tiny] home designed to create real connections with really smart products. This activation demonstrated the current smart house capabilities – everything from turning on lights to making popcorn. On the trade show floor, we saw robots cooking breakfast and playing pianos, and 3-D printers printing sushi (restaurant opening in Tokyo 2020).

But these technology advancements go beyond just daily convenience. Dubai is leveraging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to create a paperless city by 2021.  The government uses approximately 1 billion sheets of paper annually for government transactions. Currently, if a consumer wants to buy a car, there are multiple transactions done across various government entities – obtaining a license, finding a car, insuring the car, registering the car, financing the car, getting a parking permit, etc. By designing a digitized journey for all residents and visitors on a unified interface (DubaiNow app, available for download now) the city can connect 1,600 government services, and save enough money to feed 130MM children, countless hours of time, and 130K trees each year. Key pillars to reach this change are technology, legislation, and culture – changes to consumer behavior being a pivotal challenge.

The highlight of Day 3 was the ADP and Wired “Breaking Barriers” activation.  Consumers were able to select from multiple work frustrations such as old technology, poor work/life balance, financial inequality, and glass ceilings, and physically break these barriers with a selection of tools (like baseball bats or sledgehammers). The activation featured statistics about work barriers to educate guests, and slow-motion videos were captured for social sharing.

How Does This Affect Our Clients and our Business?

With connected devices in the home becoming more advanced and more obtainable to consumers, brands should consider how they will integrate within, without coming across as invasive. Unified interfaces, like DubaiNow, are beginning to replace traditional paper systems to allow even greater connectivity across the consumer’s journey, but breaking consumer habits, such as printing emails, will be necessary to allow this continuous connectivity to run seamlessly.

As the interactive portion of the SXSW festival winds down, Havas Media US brings us some more highlights and insights from Austin. (Check out takeaways from Day 1 and Day 2.)

 

Adam Stolz, Supervisor Ad Ops:

So, for Day 3 at SXSW there was another (unintentional) theme to my day and that was “Audio” or “The Future of Audio.” Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to bat a thousand at panels and sessions here, so while the panels I listened to weren’t up to par with some of my previous sessions, I did glean some important details for an audio conversation with our clients and colleagues. It was also such great timing because last Wednesday the Chicago office hosted a Sonic Takeover day in which Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio all came and gave great presentations about their business models and how they see their business moving forward in the future.

The panel that stuck out to me yesterday was about the “Future of Audio” but really focused on the realm of podcasts, which for some is sacred territory. I love podcasts. I have a few I love to listen to, however, I’m not as much of a die-hard fan as some of my other friends. It’s an interesting space that will at some point be invaded by advertisers just as the (I can’t believe I’m going to use this term) “blogosphere” was engulfed with them many years ago. I think a big attraction for a lot of people is the DIY/grassroots vibe that podcasts present. Whether you know him or not, you may feel as though you have a connection to Marc Maron because you listen to him every day and feel a closeness due to how this space provides it. I think in order to maintain/respect the podcast genre for what it is, custom content will have to play an extremely important role. Podcast listeners constitute a dedicated audience covering a multitude of demos, but I feel they’ll want content directed to them, not thrown at them in the middle of their favorite listening session.

Later in the day some of our Havas colleagues and I had lunch with our amazing Spotify reps at a restaurant called Geraldine’s. Again, coming off an amazing sonic day I was excited to share my positive feedback about their presentation and learn more about the next steps on the horizon for their business. “Talking shop” aside, they are just great people with great senses of humor and it was fun to share some laughs over a delicious lunch. I can’t say enough good things about them – and their product (which I use religiously).

Then to add one little “audio footnote,” at the end of the day we all gathered for our Havas Happy Hour at the LINE Hotel. It was really great to reconnect with people and see how their SXSW experiences have been so far. Then the fact that Dan Nakamura was in attendance kind of blew me away. If you don’t know who Dan is, he goes by his production name, “Dan the Automator” – and he is easily one of my top favorite hip-hop producers of all time. He’s worked on projects such as The Handsome Boy Modeling School, Dr. Octagon, and the Gorillaz. Keeping my fandom to nil, it was really amazing to talk with him and learn he was down here because he scored Olivia Wilde’s new movie Booksmart – what a humble man and inspiration to me for many years. That was a treat.

Kristen Ziaks, VP, Director Communications Strategy:

Major Takeaways:

How Streetwear Turns Hype Into $$

The explosion of streetwear, driven in part by sneaker and hip-hop culture, is now permeating all aspects of the zeitgeist. Everyone from artists to chefs, to designers and photographers, are embarking on collabs and driving hype through limited-release product drops. This panel discussed what connects customers with certain brands to drive that hype, and how to sustain it in a culture where consumers are always looking for the “next thing.”

Paul Dillinger, Head of Global Product Innovation, Levi Strauss

  •      “Your brand voice matters: Maintaining authenticity and aesthetic neutrality that allows you to flex is essential and truly a challenge. It’s not easy, there’s no formula.”
  •      When asked about whether aligning with these social issues worries him in the sense of losing potential customers that don’t align with Levi’s brand values: “Blowback on these social issues has no correlation with sales.”
  •      Levi’s collab with 13th Witness at NBA All-Star Weekend wasn’t about being at ASW with the glitz and glam. It was about tapping into the culture surrounding it, which started with the fans: “The love of basketball is born on the local court, in the neighborhoods and communities closest to you. That love of the game, and the photographer who celebrates these neighborhoods, are what drove me.” This collab sold out in 1 minute. This has been a central theme across talks: What is the broader cultural conversation driving the story that connects us on a human level?
  •      In developing products that will drive demand, Dillinger explained that it starts with how you want consumers to feel when they interact with your product. What type of emotion are you trying to evoke? This is how you develop items that are designed for sustained moments in life vs. designed for one moment in time.

Boutique Streaming Services

There are a lot of continued themes here around developing engaging narratives that will connect. This panel spoke about competing against the behemoths using specialized services and what it takes to break through.

On the importance of risk-taking:

  •      “It doesn’t have to have a direct tie to revenue but needs to have a role within the larger business ecosystem. You need to have an approach to experimentation for a business that’s looking to grow.” — Jack Constantine, CDO of Lush Cosmetics

ACLU and Why Brands Are Getting Involved with Criminal Justice Reform

The ACLU brought together a panel of marketers who are taking a stance on social causes to discuss why they felt it was so important to get involved, and how they have successfully made it part of their brand ethos and marketing strategy.

On the importance of listening to your communities:

  •      “You need to present as authentic by listening to them and building with them. This is not a marketing exercise. We do this work because it’s a tenet f off-core values. When you stand for what you believe in, you won’t suffer as a company. Inspiring people is great, but are you getting other people to listen AND act? That’s powerful” — Ben and Jerry’s

Global Director of Brand and Marketing at Puma, Adam Petrick, on why Puma felt it was important to launch #reform:

  •      “We have to as a company stand for something. We can do good and act in the right way, and it can have an impact on our bottom line. I’d rather consumers be clear on our mission and stand for something than not do it at the risk of losing them on the chance that they don’t align with our values.”

How Does This Affect Our Clients and Our Business?

An overarching theme was about establishing a brand purpose, with clear tenets and values and not being afraid to reinforce them through behavior and comms. In a digital world where consumers are so quick to voice their opinions, it can be scary for brands to take even calculated risks, but the overwhelming feedback from these leaders was that the benefits outweigh the concerns. In the long run, more people will connect with a brand that stands for something larger and uses its platform for good, than be turned off because it doesn’t align with their values.

Jess Santini, Communications Manager:

#IsThisThingOn

As we know from our Meaningful Brands study, 77 percent of brands could disappear and no one would care. Even more alarming is that in a world full of noise, millennials have embraced an inherently silent world in order to cut through the clutter. According to Digiday, 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound despite over 2 million “sound on” tweets having been published in 2018.

In order to inspire users to turn up the volume, Tom Chirico, Creative Strategist at Twitter, suggests we think of engagement as a debate, rather than a click, share, or comment. Real engagement is when audiences are inspired to dive in and dissect content. He notes that in order to have an informed debate, you need to activate both sight and sound equally, focus on quality, and have a meaningful purpose.

“No one notices when sound quality is good, but they always notice when it is not,” added Sarah Gibble-Laska, CEO of Chapter Four.

Whether you look at Gillette’s recent Toxic Masculinity ad or the viral Yanny or Laurel soundbite, they both create unique experiences that inspire users to opt in and form opinions.

And don’t be afraid of a little controversy. When Nike launched its Colin Kaepernick ad in 2018, a firestorm of reactions flooded the internet, resulting in record engagement with the brand and a 9 percent increase in revenue in just 3 months. While a good portion of the reaction was less than complimentary, it was an overall win for their campaign strategy.

Jenn Bjorklund, Connections Planning Director:

Major Takeaways:

The once seemingly crazy ideas reflected in science fiction films are now within closer reach than ever, and companies like SAP spoke to using such films as inspiration for innovation.  b8ta and Google teamed up to build out a [tiny] home designed to create real connections with really smart products. This activation demonstrated the current smart house capabilities – everything from turning on lights to making popcorn. On the trade show floor, we saw robots cooking breakfast and playing pianos, and 3-D printers printing sushi (restaurant opening in Tokyo 2020).

But these technology advancements go beyond just daily convenience. Dubai is leveraging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to create a paperless city by 2021.  The government uses approximately 1 billion sheets of paper annually for government transactions. Currently, if a consumer wants to buy a car, there are multiple transactions done across various government entities – obtaining a license, finding a car, insuring the car, registering the car, financing the car, getting a parking permit, etc. By designing a digitized journey for all residents and visitors on a unified interface (DubaiNow app, available for download now) the city can connect 1,600 government services, and save enough money to feed 130MM children, countless hours of time, and 130K trees each year. Key pillars to reach this change are technology, legislation, and culture – changes to consumer behavior being a pivotal challenge.

The highlight of Day 3 was the ADP and Wired “Breaking Barriers” activation.  Consumers were able to select from multiple work frustrations such as old technology, poor work/life balance, financial inequality, and glass ceilings, and physically break these barriers with a selection of tools (like baseball bats or sledgehammers). The activation featured statistics about work barriers to educate guests, and slow-motion videos were captured for social sharing.

How Does This Affect Our Clients and our Business?

With connected devices in the home becoming more advanced and more obtainable to consumers, brands should consider how they will integrate within, without coming across as invasive. Unified interfaces, like DubaiNow, are beginning to replace traditional paper systems to allow even greater connectivity across the consumer’s journey, but breaking consumer habits, such as printing emails, will be necessary to allow this continuous connectivity to run seamlessly.

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