Archive for the 'On the Streets' Category

Ray-Ban, Rachel Ray and Fader Forting

So I finally made it in, and the Fader/Levi’s Fort was as cool as everyone made it out to be. The Fort itself had a bunch of different rooms to check out, and that was smart because it encouraged lounging around with some of the Fader magazines laying about. Ray-Ban did a confession booth that also took your picture and printed them out with an access code to see your confession online—that was an excellent way to get people to access the Ray-Ban website.

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Before the Fader Fort, we went to the Rachael Ray Party at Beauty Bar, officially called the Feedback Party Hosted by Rachael Ray. They posted flyers everywhere for that party, but enforced their RSVP list, which made for a long, attention-getting line. Inside they were extremely well-organized and served amazing food while heavily promoting (and pouring) the new Rose’s Mojito mix.My camera was out of batteries, so I couldn’t take a picture, but one of the funniest things I’ve seen at SXSW was a sign outside of a bar advertising “free food, gift bags, and beer,” written in marker on a white paper plate, taped to a parking meter. What?! At least take the time to make a poster at home!Again, not as much schwag today. But here’s a look at the final tally of all the free stuff I received at SXSW:

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No Sidewalk Chalk?

When it comes to SXSW 2008, I’ve seen a lot of the typical brand promotion strategies. We’ve seen the posters. We’ve seen the bottle replicas serving as posters. Every type of beverage has a wrapped vehicle (the Monster energy truck I thought was a little different and appropriate for the brand), and if brands don’t have any of the aforementioned, they have street teams to hand out the product. Other than the interactive lounges, I’m a little bored.

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So where’s the sidewalk chalk? This is what I really wanted to know when I walked down 6th St. at noon today. Knowing that downtown largely becomes barricaded and patrons are able to walk in the street, I would think that sidewalk chalk would be an absolute hit! 6th is probably wide enough to fit three Weiner Mobiles at least, and that could be a lot of room for chalking your brand onto the ground. I can’t be positive of the cost differences between synthetic posters and an artist with great chalk skills, but I imagine they might not be too far off, making sidewalk works of art quite possible. And who knows, maybe chalk isn’t the only option. I actually saw one solitary piece of sidewalk advertising and that was a poster somehow attached to the ground. There’s nothing to say that posters can’t be put on the ground too, and maybe you could put a great creative spin on it. Maybe it’s just me, but I see a lot of cool potential. So all I can say is, when other brands are looking high, maybe next year other brands should look low.

Where are the Schwag Bags?

We might have hit a few less parties today, but there also seemed to be less schwag—I saw fewer people on the streets weighed down with bags, and I only came away with two free shirts. One of those free shirts was even designed by me! Alternative Apparel set up a Do-It-Yourself booth where they had plain white t-shirts, fabric markers, and stencils at Orchid.

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We sipped on some free drinks and ate some free tacos and spent a solid hour on our shirts—which is brilliant marketing for the t-shirt company. Not only did we spend an hour with their product, but then we took them home and are going to wear them purely because we made them!Other stops included the Batanga Party at Habana, which was a lot of fun, but I still don’t know what Batanga is. They did, however, follow what I call the Drink Theory of Branding, which means they branded everything that had to with the free drinks they were passing out.

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Other notable sights included: an Izze bike, which made no sense but was painted lime green. I wonder if it stemmed from the Hill Country Ride for Aids and their red bikes all around town, or if that’s just a coincidence?izze.jpg

At the Dell Lounge, which presents a very unified front with the same logo on everything from badges to t-shirts to bags, they featured Blogging Stations where anyone could step up to use the computer. Coupled with good music, free Southern Comfort drinks, and the rare schwag bag, it’s done a nice job of branding itself as a place to be. Paste Magazine was a cosponsor, and they were attempting the Radiohead pay-what-you-will experiment. Which is fine, except that our particular salesperson made sure to outline how much it costs the magazine to print and mail, which was a total guilt trip. If you’re going to offer the deal, take what you get, Paste!

Solar Saucer

So I thought it was a giant sombrero and some visitor thought it’d be an easy way to get gullible Texans over to see whatever it was they were selling, but it turns out that this:saucer1.jpgis actually a Solar Saucer. Obviously I needed to know what http://www.solarsaucer.com is as soon as I got home, so at 2 am I was up exploring the Solar Saucer. Lesson: giant light-up sombrero-saucers are excellent at attracting attention. The real lesson you can take from that? If you can, build a product that sells itself. The whole point of the Solar Saucer is that it’s powered entirely by the sun, so if you have a giant object sitting in a parking lot at night showing how it is displaying light that’s been stored throughout the day, the product really sells itself.We also went to Moby’s CD release party at Vice, which is sponsored by MetroMix LA. Like Amoeba, I can’t help but wonder why a Los Angeles newspaper wants to advertise so heavily in Austin, but it must be indicative of two things: 1) that they have to promote at the big music events not because of the city, but because of the people that will be there who actually do live or visit LA; and 2) that Austin is a really happening place to be if LA has to advertise here!

Friday

After-Hours Marketing

A staple of the SXSW experience are the late night after parties. These affairs are generally exclusive, corporate financed and excessively branded. Last night I finally cashed in enough credibility to get invited to the Red Bull/Facebook Lounge, which was an intense and drunken barrage of extremely aggressive marketing.

To be fair, waking up on a friend’s couch in one’s clothes with a hangover you could sell to science never leaves you with a good taste in your mouth. But this event was excessive, tacky and made me feel a little dirty. The opening shot was the admission pass: a temporary tattoo of distressed art and Red Bull logos. You had to apply the tattoo to enter, and there was a small branded Red Bull “tattoo studio” with a sink and sponges outside the gate. So anyone who wants to party needs to walk around with a logo on their forearm or neck the next few days. Dirty tricks? Maybe. But effective.

Once inside the scene was impressive, albeit sort of tasteless. It was a converted hanger/parking lot with a Red Bull logoed stage that looked like it was left over from the last U2 tour. Performing on it was some guy with a laptop. Across from the stage was an incredibly elaborate two story lounge packed with every ostensibly cool extra a marketer could dream up: white leather sofas, Guitar Hero 3, plasma TVs playing break dancing videos and ubiquitous Red Bull and free booze.

The co-sponsor of this party was Facebook, and near the VIP area was the “Facebook pavilion”, a converted bus packed with computers and Facebook schwag. Amazingly, there was a line of drunk revelers desperate to update their Facebook profiles, no doubt to let their friends know about this sweet party. It was pretty incongruous, and sort of interesting that people’s digital lives were so critical that people would take time out of a real live party to spend time on a computer.

Overall, if a sort of glossy, polished nightclub-like experience is your thing, you’ll love this party. But the fact remains is that as an advertiser, pouring people free alcohol only brings them to your event, it doesn’t sell the product or build brand loyalty. It’s all about how you market to them while they are there. Love it or hate it, Red Bull has very effectively matched a lifestyle to their brand. There is clearly a “Red Bull experience” and events like this definitely help to build it.

Partying in a Parking Garage

Myopenbar.com hosted a party at the Texas Garage, the parking garage at the AMLI building. Naturally, it had an open bar—Dewar’s and ginger beer, Keystone beer—and music. Saucony was there playing shuffleboard and giving out “winner”and “loser” headbands, which is really cool because it’s funny, and because people like labels.

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Stella McCartney for LeSportsac was also apparently a sponsor, but there was nothing they were giving out that made any sense, or that was branded at all. They just put out signs that said “LeSportsac” on the tables. Weird.

But the secret to the party was heading upstairs to the very top to the “NYLON/Guess Lounge.” I don’t know why they were sponsoring this, but they had huge floating letters in two pools, which was awesome because they were so huge.

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There appeared to be an indoor lounge too, but I couldn’t figure out how to get in there. There was also a photo booth where you could take a picture and have it print out immediately. On the photo, Guess, Nylon, and http://politeinpublic.com/’s logos were all printed as well. Pretty smart, because I love the photo and will keep it for a long time!

Also, here’s a shot of the Guess pool logo later in the night.

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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.

Door Number 3

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