Zara Kerwood, digital innovation lead at George P. Johnson, checks out how big brands are doing battle at the epic annual festival and conference mash-up that is South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.
SXSW took place in Austin on 8-17 March, where we saw brands stepping up their game with elaborate immersive experiences.
As streaming giants Netflix and Amazon continue to do battle over users, and as new entrants, such as Disney+, start to apply even more pressure, we saw brands employ experience marketing at the festival to tell the world about their original content and reach new audiences.
Netflix – The Highwaymen House
This interactive experience saw one of the Rainy Street’s bars transformed into a 1934-inspired speakeasy filled with immersive storytelling. The mission for attendees was to try and find out who the ‘Lumberjack’ was. By talking to actors and helping the Sheriff find clues in the bar, participants gained points logged on their RFID wristbands, which could be spent in the general store. Making deals, gambling and finding out the character’s secrets was the name of the game. The experience offered an insight into the film, but kept the audience wanting that little bit more.
Amazon Prime Video – Good Omens
Amazon offered visitors a sneak peek of the Good Omens series launching in May with the ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ – pick either heaven to experience angels giving massages, or hell to discover the most delightful Hellbound puppy pen. This was a fabulous execution with attention to detail to die for.
Game of Thrones – Bleed for the Throne
In addition to the two competing streaming platforms, we saw the likes of HBO investing in creating experiences. To celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones, and all of the bloodshed throughout the previous seven, the network partnered with the American Red Cross. As part of the show’s global ‘For the Throne’ marketing campaign, the immersive experience encouraged audiences to give blood after fully immersing them in the story. ‘Will you bleed for the throne?’
The power of experience marketing was certainly evident at this year’s SXSW. By tapping into experiential, streaming platforms and networks have brought their stories to life, using an immersive approach to increase customer engagement and raise brand awareness, all in the name of ultimately getting viewers to tune in.
Brands in highly competitive markets can gain a competitive edge by following in these buzz-building footsteps.
Image: AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 11: Jenny Lewis performs onstage at Collide/Netflix during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Banger’s on March 11, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Ismael Quintanilla/Getty Images for SXSW)