Branding the Interactive Afterparties

My first night on the town during SXSW featured three company-sponsored parties: imeem at Beauty Bar, the PureVolume Ranch, and Blogger at Club Deville. At Beauty Bar, these buttons were splattered about:imeem.jpg

I quickly learned that button-scattering is the method du jour, as buttons were scattered about at PureVolume later. Looking closely, imeem’s logo design not only references the exclamation point, but also puts itself in the ubiquitous “i” category along with the iPhone, iPod and other i-related brands.

My friend and I both picked up the teal quilted i-patterned pin; she pinned it to her purse, I tossed it in my bag. A man who later revealed himself to be with imeem asked us which button was our favorite. When we answered, “the quilted one” he replied, “I had to fight to get that one.”When we left, I noticed that not a single quilted-i-pattern button was left on the bartop, whereas the “I heart imeem” buttons still abound. Lesson number one: either trust your instincts or recognize that peopleare bored with the “I heart ____” theme in advertising. So the most successful button was about a unique color, interesting pattern and a fresh design.

A few raindrops later, we were at PureVolume Ranch. I tended bar at PureVolume last year, and this year it’s much more organized. They also have a wider selection of drink mixers and the beverage companies areclearly labeled in all the signage as major sponsors. This is an improvement. But unlike last year there’s no Wii, and I didn’t see anything interactive and cool to take the Wii’s place. Other than the Guitar Hero in the band members-only lounge. Too bad. PureVolume may have the better drink selections, but they have a branding problem. Different companies in turn rent out the PureVolume space each night. But whatever brand was the major sponsor of the night was unknown to me. And, for that matter, I’m not even sure what PureVolume is.

Lastly, we crashed the Blogger party. It advertised itself as invite-only, but I figured we wouldn’t be turned away. We weren’t. And to top it off, we were feted with fingerless gloves! Blogger always seems to take in the weather as a factor– their party last year featured branded scarves. But fingerless gloves are even better.bloggergloves.jpg

They have the perfect amount of finger-coverage for warmth, the hipster factor (fingerless gloves made a big splash in fashion this winter), and product visibility. Also, even the most dedicated blogger needs his fingertips free to continue typing away on a keypad. I was surprised to see about half of the revelers wearing the gloves. The bartender even asked us to score him a pair! I hope I didn’t get the best piece of swag on my first night, but it’s going to be hard to beat these Blogger gloves with their super-branded “B”.

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SXSW is an Austin event. And Door Number 3 is an Austin advertising agency. We're interested in how new ideas in advertising, media and branding will be presented during these 9 quick days. From inside the lecture halls where top specialists present their thoughts, to out on the streets where advertising is put to the test on tens of thousands of festival-goers. We'll be there with the complete coverage, reports, photos, editorials, and perhaps some tricks on how to sneak into a few sweet afterparties.

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