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2018 SXSW Recap

2018 SXSW Recap

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

March 20, 2018

Our teams from around the network share what worked and what didn’t.

"SXSW was ALL ABOUT strong female perspectives; many sessions featured all-female panels."

From Westworld to Elon Musk to AI and Batmobiles, this year’s SXSWi festival gave marketers a ton to think about. And judging from the lines at some of the panels and exhibits, they had a lot of time to do just that. Havas Group teams from around the world attended the festival and share below some of this year’s hits and misses.

 

Hit

SXSW was all about strong female perspectives; many sessions featured all-female panels. Most panelists overall were male, but the split was 50/50 for the PR/Marketing sessions. #TheFutureIsFemale

Miss

That being said…a lot of the content at these sessions was repetitive. While there were some great sound bites, one couldn’t help but feel that the information was lacking innovation and focused mainly on buzzwords. Multiple panels had really exciting titles but didn’t bring anything particularly new. They stuck to tired themes on the topic and seemed rehearsed, unexcited, and less stimulating. Other panels centered around content creation focused on intuitive facts and not much else: make it accessible, make it authentic, make it engaging.

Hit

Creating accessibility through a shift to audio. Not only were there top podcasting and media companies attending the event and producing live audio sessions, many of the top panels and keynotes not related to the pod-world were available right after the session in the form of an on-demand podcast. This year SXSW stepped up their podcast game and turned the traditional recorded medium into performance art. SXSW started to put podcasting on an even footing with live music with several live podcasting events and a Podcast Stage.

Miss

Lines, lines, lines. Many waited in line for an hour to hear the keynote address by Melinda Gates and ended up not getting in. Over 8,000 people “favorited” the session on the SXSWGO app. Outside the conference center wasn’t any better, as lines for big, branded houses were often too long to attend, limiting any networking.

Hit

Hearing from the team behind the Jordan brand detailing how they launched the Jordan 3 Tinker shoes by collaborating between Snapchat and OOH, Shopify, and Darkstore’s technologies to deliver a one-of-a-kind magic moment for their fans.

"One couldn’t help but feel that the information was lacking innovation and focused mainly on buzzwords."

Miss

Priorities given to platinum badge holders often superseded those given to interactive badge holders, in some cases limiting the number of attendees in the room to those that may not have been part of the best or most engaged audience for the session.

Hit

Solid access to immersive art experiences with pop-ups by Meow Wolf and Marshmallow Laser Feast.

Miss

Some panelists seemed unprepared for the topic at hand. The session on AI’s impact on creativity with TechCrunch, IBM, Getty Images, and a creator (MARRY the MOON) fell flat as each panelist repeated the theme “AI is a tool” yet did not give tangible thoughts or examples when it came to uses for sorting images or enhancing art (like EyeEm). A number of panels seemed to have turned more into a sales pitch than an educational experience. There was no warning sign, and this led to panel-hopping in the middle of sessions.

Hit

Can you put your life in a GIF? “The End of Content” panel led by Giphy CEO Alex Chung highlighted how millennials are looking for a different, quicker kind of content. But when it comes to health, how can we condense important information to become so short and entertaining? It doesn’t seem easy, but it sounds exciting.  

Miss

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell has played an important role in making personal computers more accessible and customized—and everyone was curious if the Dell Medical School, supported by his Foundation, could do the same with healthcare and medical education, using technology to transform the system. But the talk was very superficial about themes like AI and VR in medicine, with no practical implications.

Hit

Touch, gesture, voice, what’s next? AI and bots are quickly becoming a part of everyday life and helping in many ways. People have started to develop attachments to these services, and they are a part of kids lives from an early age. We’re in the very beginning stages of this as we’re trying to figure out how best to use this technology. As AI starts to talk to AI, the world will fundamentally change.

Contributors:

Laura Alesci, Content Director, Havas Sports & Entertainment

Jessica Galoforo, Associate Media Director, Havas Media

Sofie Guariglia, Social Media Specialist, Socialyse

Nathan Joslin, Mobile Supervisor, Mobext

Ze Roberto Pereira, Chief Strategy Officer, Havas Life Sao Paulo

Jessica Santini, Communications, Havas Media

"SXSW was ALL ABOUT strong female perspectives; many sessions featured all-female panels."

From Westworld to Elon Musk to AI and Batmobiles, this year’s SXSWi festival gave marketers a ton to think about. And judging from the lines at some of the panels and exhibits, they had a lot of time to do just that. Havas Group teams from around the world attended the festival and share below some of this year’s hits and misses.

 

Hit

SXSW was all about strong female perspectives; many sessions featured all-female panels. Most panelists overall were male, but the split was 50/50 for the PR/Marketing sessions. #TheFutureIsFemale

Miss

That being said…a lot of the content at these sessions was repetitive. While there were some great sound bites, one couldn’t help but feel that the information was lacking innovation and focused mainly on buzzwords. Multiple panels had really exciting titles but didn’t bring anything particularly new. They stuck to tired themes on the topic and seemed rehearsed, unexcited, and less stimulating. Other panels centered around content creation focused on intuitive facts and not much else: make it accessible, make it authentic, make it engaging.

Hit

Creating accessibility through a shift to audio. Not only were there top podcasting and media companies attending the event and producing live audio sessions, many of the top panels and keynotes not related to the pod-world were available right after the session in the form of an on-demand podcast. This year SXSW stepped up their podcast game and turned the traditional recorded medium into performance art. SXSW started to put podcasting on an even footing with live music with several live podcasting events and a Podcast Stage.

Miss

Lines, lines, lines. Many waited in line for an hour to hear the keynote address by Melinda Gates and ended up not getting in. Over 8,000 people “favorited” the session on the SXSWGO app. Outside the conference center wasn’t any better, as lines for big, branded houses were often too long to attend, limiting any networking.

Hit

Hearing from the team behind the Jordan brand detailing how they launched the Jordan 3 Tinker shoes by collaborating between Snapchat and OOH, Shopify, and Darkstore’s technologies to deliver a one-of-a-kind magic moment for their fans.

"One couldn’t help but feel that the information was lacking innovation and focused mainly on buzzwords."

Miss

Priorities given to platinum badge holders often superseded those given to interactive badge holders, in some cases limiting the number of attendees in the room to those that may not have been part of the best or most engaged audience for the session.

Hit

Solid access to immersive art experiences with pop-ups by Meow Wolf and Marshmallow Laser Feast.

Miss

Some panelists seemed unprepared for the topic at hand. The session on AI’s impact on creativity with TechCrunch, IBM, Getty Images, and a creator (MARRY the MOON) fell flat as each panelist repeated the theme “AI is a tool” yet did not give tangible thoughts or examples when it came to uses for sorting images or enhancing art (like EyeEm). A number of panels seemed to have turned more into a sales pitch than an educational experience. There was no warning sign, and this led to panel-hopping in the middle of sessions.

Hit

Can you put your life in a GIF? “The End of Content” panel led by Giphy CEO Alex Chung highlighted how millennials are looking for a different, quicker kind of content. But when it comes to health, how can we condense important information to become so short and entertaining? It doesn’t seem easy, but it sounds exciting.  

Miss

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell has played an important role in making personal computers more accessible and customized—and everyone was curious if the Dell Medical School, supported by his Foundation, could do the same with healthcare and medical education, using technology to transform the system. But the talk was very superficial about themes like AI and VR in medicine, with no practical implications.

Hit

Touch, gesture, voice, what’s next? AI and bots are quickly becoming a part of everyday life and helping in many ways. People have started to develop attachments to these services, and they are a part of kids lives from an early age. We’re in the very beginning stages of this as we’re trying to figure out how best to use this technology. As AI starts to talk to AI, the world will fundamentally change.

Contributors:

Laura Alesci, Content Director, Havas Sports & Entertainment

Jessica Galoforo, Associate Media Director, Havas Media

Sofie Guariglia, Social Media Specialist, Socialyse

Nathan Joslin, Mobile Supervisor, Mobext

Ze Roberto Pereira, Chief Strategy Officer, Havas Life Sao Paulo

Jessica Santini, Communications, Havas Media

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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