As spring rolls around the corner, everyone in the Austin Area is preparing for one of the busiest times of the year. From Tech junkies to Music Lovers, SXSW brings crowds from across the country to showcase the latest gadgets, indie films, and upcoming bands. But the festival is also a great example of the latest trends in marketing. Startups as well as big name companies are launching new products and using the flashiest method to get noticed. Now anyone can plaster their logo onto a pair of sunglasses or a T-shirt, but the real marketing champs of SXSW played off the Festival’s exclusive environment and promoted themselves in a savvy way. Keeping this in mind, I’m rounding out the best players of last year’s South By.


This automotive giant made a big splash last year, by offering a free ride service. By tweeting #catchachevy a driver would promptly come by and pick you up in a brand new Chevy volt. Not only did they showcase their car’s new features to thousands of potential consumers, but they created major buzz through social media. Passengers would also receive an exclusive invitation to a Chevy music showcase, which featured big names such as Julian Casablanca and others. Chevrolet also set up a test drive station outside of the convention that allowed festival goers to test drive their newest models. Chevy found a niche in the market and used it to promote their product, while also playing into the music scene.

iTunes Festival

Apple generated national news by moving last year’s iTunes festival to South by. By pulling in big names like Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, and Lady Gaga into the famous Moody Theatre, Apple had one of the best promotion of the week. With a standby line as well as a raffle system for badge holders, they upped the ante to enter their events while also giving any fan a chance to see their favorite band. Apple also played into the best methods of SXSW marketing by adding Gaga as a secret performer on their lineup. The bombshell landed them headlines and made iTunes one the best events of the conference. By allowing the concerts to stream on iTunes, they also generated huge buzz outside of the confines of the conference.

Microsoft Titan Fall

Appealing to the gaming crowd during interactive, Microsoft drew huge buzz from their Microsoft Launch party. Just a few blocks from the conference center right on Congress, the Titan fall launch drew huge crowds. They setup lounges to let fans try the game before the launch as well as held a raffle through social media. Finally they debuted one of the biggest names at SXSW last year, Childish Gambino to perform at midnight. By giving loyal fans a first look at their product and bringing in a huge name, Microsoft truly was one of the best players at SXSW.

Samsung Galaxy

This company played into the best marketing tactics of SXSW. With a Galaxy lounge, Samsung offered consumers the option to sample new phones and grab free gear. They tapped into the tech market early in the week by opening a blogging lounge with free BBQ. Like Chevy, they found a need and capitalized on it by offering free battery swaps to all Galaxy users. Any galaxy user would no longer need to search for outlet along the conference center or lung around a dead phone. However the best perk Samsung offered was their big name concert, Kanye and Jay Z. For Galaxy users exclusively, if they showed their phone they would receive an exclusive wristband and plus one to the Ye and Jay Z concert absolutely free. They successfully marketed their new phone models, and rewarded their loyal customers with exclusive events and commodities.

Honorable Mentions

Playing into the indie vibe, Taco bell’s Hype Hotel showcased up and coming bands and allowed guest to sample new tacos. At Keurig’s coffee lounge, coffee lovers could sample the new line of Espresso K-cups launching that quarter as well as try out their new Keurig models. Finally, Converse Fader Fort is always a huge name at SXSW. The Fort drew huge names such as Erykah Badu and Rick Ross in order to generate buzz. They also sold their newest converse styles at their tent and allowed wristband holders the chance to sample Austin’s newest microbrews. Another company drew crowds by offering a free concert by one the biggest names through social media. Fossil offered an exclusive invitation to a Foster the people concert through twitter the night before their huge concert at Butler Park.

That rounds out the best companies of last year’s South By. These companies were largely successful, because of their knowledge of the crowd and environment at the conference. They rewarded loyal customers and attracted many new ones. This year expect to see these players and many more taking the festival by storm.

Article by Daniela R.

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