SXSW - Successful Branded Events


A list of branded events that were "crowd favorites," the most talked about in advertising publications, the most attended by advertising professionals, and branded events that have been unsuccessful at SXSW Interactive over the past few years.

Early Findings

Uber’s Ride and Dine

  • For SXSW 2018, Uber hosted dinners in a well lit and decorated double-decker bus with riders.
  • Prior to the event, Uber had the bus drive through New York City in 2017 for the launch of its Visa card. The bus became somewhat popular in New York. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a lot of people already knew about it and wanted to get it on the experience.
  • The bus was parked in an "activation footprint" with party lights, seating, and chalkboard signage.
  • To drive "awareness and excitement for the new card, two seatings of nine lucky riders and their +1’s were treated to a taste of Austin each day."
  • The company had a local chef who served up neighborhood-inspired meals like "Thai, Japanese and Chinese flavors in North Austin, Tex-Mex of East Austin and contemporary Italian in Downtown Austin. Agency: Manifold, San Francisco."
  • This brand activation appeared in several articles about the best SXSW brand activations over the years, making it one of the most talked about in advertising publications.

Budweiser's Beer Garage

  • The Budeweiser Beer Garage is Anheuser-Busch InBev’s "home for innovation."
  • For SXSW 2016, it showcased some of its innovative technologies through a 4D Immersive Reality trip to Budweiser's St. Louis Brewery.
  • This took place at the time virtual reality experiences became popular among millennials.
  • People who attended were put in a VR headset and "transported to A-B’s St. Louis facility where they went on a multisensory journey, getting to see, hear, smell—and finally taste—how Budweiser is made."
  • There were also areas that Budweiser created to represent occasions in their consumers' lives. There was an in-stadium area which had a self-service machine where consumers could serve themselves beer with a pre-loaded card.
  • There was an in-home area which featured the Bud Light E-Fridge, a "wifi-enabled smart refrigerator that tracks how many beers are inside and at what temperature, and alerts users when the supply is running low, then helps them reorder a fresh supply."
  • The brand also offered Start-Up Success stories, a series of "fireside chats between an Anheuser-Busch innovation leader and start-ups such as Percolate, Saucey, Splash and Tinder, each of which have partnered with Budweiser in its quest for innovation."
  • A competition was organized where Start-ups were allowed to pitch their technology for a possible partnership.
  • Although there is no hard data on how many people attended this branded event, judging by the pictures and how full it was, it must have been one of the most popular brand activations among attendees. It has also been featured by several publications as one of the best branded events to take place at SXSW.

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