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August 16, 2023

The 5 Best Marketing Tactics at SXSW

The 5 Best Marketing Tactics At SXSW - The Concierge Club

If there's one annual pop culture festival that does it all, it's South by Southwest (SXSW).

From music and film to tech, education, and culture, SXSW has been celebrating the convergence of it all in the heart of Austin, Texas since 1987. It’s also one of the best places on Earth to see experiential marketing in action.

Beyond jaw-dropping performances, attendees are also in for innovative and immersive pop-ups, panels, TED-style talks, and showcases. It’s an all-encompassing haven for audiences to make incredible discoveries—and a golden opportunity for brands to create incredible experiences that get all the attention.

Here are our top picks—these five brands exhibited the best marketing tactics at SXSW!

1. Audible Sound Studio | 2023

Audible Sound Studio - The Concierge Club

Image source: Instagram

Earlier this year, Audible turned up the volume on their festival marketing strategy with their immersive Sound Studio.

With storytelling at the core of this activation, their branded listening pods enabled guests to experience Audible crowd-favourites and even record their own songs on vinyl. To highlight their Words + Music series, they dreamed up a lounge with record players and a minimalistic-yet-super-aesthetic wall featuring all 35 books.

Guests were also treated to live music sets and a temporary tattoo station that offered ink art meant to last for roughly 15 months! Talk about memorable.

Why it’s one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW:Audible Sound Studio’s sparked a personal connection with attendees by enabling them to put their own sounds on vinyl. This communicated to their audiences that they value self-expression, a marketing tune that resonated with them.

By incorporating aesthetics into the mix with a vintage-esque theme and made-to-fade ink, they succeeded at creating an Instagrammable moment to be remembered well after the tattoos wear off!

2. Amazon Prime Video’s “Good Omens” Garden of Earthly Delights | 2019

Amazon Prime Video’s “Good Omens” Garden Of Earthly Delights - The Concierge Club

Image source: Instagram

Here's a mesmerizing SXSW marketing campaign that personified Amazon Prime Video's show Good Omens in every sense of the name.

The titular show is based on the popular Neil Gaiman novel of the same name. It tells the story of a fussy “angel” (played by Michael Sheen) and a loose-living “demon” (David Tennant) who form an unlikely alliance to stop the world from ending.

Their SXSW event featured a“Garden of Earthly Delights,” clad with a 20-foot tree that doubled as a bare and bore prophetic apples. There were also pampering stations for hairstyling, manicures, and hand massages. Attendees wanting to lie down and relax could also do just that in one of the heavenly cabanas.

Just when people thought the experience couldn't get any better, a puppy pen filled with adoptable animals from Austin Animal Center turned the space into a true heart-melting paradise centred around a good cause.

Why it was one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW:

Everyone loves prophecies—especially when they’re hanging from a tree that is also a bar.

By rounding up the best things about Earth—great drinks, powerful words, beauty treats, and of course, puppies—they reminded everyone why the heroes in "Good Omens" would try so hard to save this planet. Talk about a festival marketing campaign done right!

3. HBO’s Bleed #ForTheThrone | 2019

HBO’s Bleed #ForTheThrone - The Concierge Club
Image source: Instagram

Game of Thrones fans know the fight for power is a bloody game.

To promote the show's final season at SXSW 2019, HBO partnered with the American Red Cross and invited attendees to schedule their blood donation appointments either at the event grounds or at a local Red Cross blood drive. Those who donated blood by March 17 were automatically entered for a chance to win a trip to the show's world premiere—not a bad reward for helping someone out!

Why it was one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW:

We don’t see this on-brand pop-up giving up the throne anytime soon.

Not only was it life-saving, inspiring, interactive, and a total king of puns, but it was a strategy that fits their brand more perfectly than a fitted crown. It’s rare for a music festival advertisement to execute its marketing strategies so perfectly.

4. AT&T Audience Network’s Condor HQ | 2018

AT&T Audience Network’s Condor HQ - The Concierge Club
Image source: Instagram

AT&T Audience Network premiered Condor at SXSW 2018 alongside an unforgettable brand activation experience that involved CIA training.

Participant intelligence was put to the test using various activities like agent briefings, voice distortion, lie detection, and interrogations. After completing the mission, festival attendees were led into a backyard lounge with refreshing drinks.

Why it was one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW:Who doesn't want to feel like they're the main character?

AT&T Audience Network understood this to a tee. They also recognized that someone interested in their series would likely love these activities, demonstrating their event planners had the skills and some superb intel on their target market. These are the kind of strategies brands need to employ to stand out.

5. TNT Animal Kingdom | 2017

TNT Animal Kingdom - The Concierge Club

Image source: Instagram

Ride the waves and let the sea breeze take you into a wildin' adventure, Southern California beach style—that was what TNT Animal Kingdom's activation was all about.

Featuring a giant wave pool in the middle of Austin—where participants could suit up in wetsuits and hop onto a surfboard—this experience sailed its way to SXSW 2017's biggest spectacle and one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW ever.

The summer paradise included a beach bar, live graffiti wall, and a sneaker bar where artists were hand-painting customized Vans sneakers.

Why it was one of the best marketing tactics at SXSW:Life truly is a beach—and we’re just riding the waves.

At SXSW 2017, TNT successfully tapped into the adventurous spirit and artistic side of attendees by having them create exciting memories. In the process, it solidified itself as a brand that knows how to have some fun.

Level Up Your Festival Marketing Strategies

There you have them: the best marketing tactics at SXSW. Turning heads at festivals requires a team of industry experts with innovative ideas sure to exceed exceptions. That’s what we do at The Concierge Club.

As a premier experiential marketing agency, our strong suit is ensuring your brand’s marketing makes an unforgettable impression. We've consistently turned strategies into results for some of the world's biggest brands—will yours be next?

Talk to us today to get started with creating the next best music festival marketing strategies.