SXSW 2015: Highlights From The Keynotes

Every SXSW Interactive features notable speakers on provocative topics, this year spanning everything from ride sharing to “mind clones.” We’ve identified three important themes for marketers:

  1. Empathetic design takes center stage
    Paola Antonelli, senior curator for MoMA, kicked off her keynote on the future of design with a shout-out to the rise of empathetic design. A user-centered design approach that focuses on the user’s feelings toward a product, empathy-driven design can provoke emotion, influence user behavior, and create strong connection. Paired with the right metrics, it can generate measurable intimacy that brands can benefit from.
  2. Ride sharing on the rise
    Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of Lyft, was reluctant to talk much about his major competitor Uber, but he did have a lot to share about his vision for the future of driving. He believes that the spreading practice of ride sharing has enabled more affordable, reliable and memorable transportation while boosting the local economy, and that on-demand car services like Lyft will make car ownership “unnecessary” in the future.
  3. Mobile reigns supreme
    Directly or indirectly, all five presenters this year touched on the impact of the ubiquitous connectivity aided by mobile devices. For instance, the first thing highlighted by Astro Teller, head of Google[x], was the recent success of its Loon project, in which Google has tested high-altitude balloons to provide Internet access to rural and remote areas. The paramount challenge for brands in this “mobile age” will be how to gracefully capitalize on the connection established by smartphones and wearable devices.

SXSW 2015: The Six Most-Talked About Digital Brand Activations

As our time here at the legendary interactive festival winds down, here is a look back at the 10 most talked-about brand activations:

  1. Studio uses Tinder to promote Ex Machina
    Some festival-goers using Tinder were matched with Ava, a 25-year-old Tinder bot created to promote Alex Garland’s sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, which premiered at SXSW.
  1. Meerkat breaks out
    FOMO is never higher than during SXSW, making this live-streaming app the perfect way to instantly drop in on celebrities, founders, and brands during the festival.
  1. Mophie uses St. Bernards to search and rescue owners with near-dead devices
    Through a partnership with the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation, nine full-size dogs and three puppies were used to deliver Mophie chargers—stored inside brandy barrel necklaces—to attendees in dire need of a charge.
  1. Lyft integrates One Touch PayPal into its interface
    As part of a promotional campaign during SXSW, riders who paid with PayPal received a $5 discount on their first ten rides as well as a chance to hitch a ride in a Ferrari 458 Italia, 1963 Bentley, Tesla Model S, or another noteworthy ride.
  1. Game of Thrones allows attendees to create digital art
    GoT encouraged attendees step on a stage, grab a (wooden) sword, and then go nuts on digital targets.
  1. USA Networks leverages beacons at SXSW for the “Mr. Robot” premiere
    The network created custom beacon alerts at various locations through the official SXSW app, rewarding festival-goers with free food and drinks, courtesy of “Mr. Robot.”