Final March, South by Southwest returned in-person (and on-line) after going down on-line in 2021 and being canceled utterly in 2020 because of the pandemic. This 12 months, the competition’s anticipated in-person attendance is nearer to pre-pandemic ranges, in line with entrepreneurs and company executives. They mentioned they’re sending extra workers to the occasion this 12 months, and there’s extra curiosity in experiential efforts on the bottom now.
“In actual life [experiential marketing] was lighter final 12 months in comparison with pre-Covid years, actually,” mentioned Peter Lewis, chief partnerships officer for SXSW. “We’re witnessing robust curiosity and seeing actions which can be on-par with earlier years.”
Manufacturers like Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Slack and Porsche can have immersive experiences for competition attendees. It’s unclear precisely what number of attendees or manufacturers might be there this 12 months. SXSW didn't share particular figures, however famous that the competition “might be considerably bigger than final 12 months primarily based on registration numbers, lodge bookings, and shopper, exhibitor and sponsor activations.”
Entrepreneurs say they're returning to the competition with in-person experiential efforts, as persons are extra snug with in-person occasions and journey than final 12 months. On the identical time, many are specializing in experiential efforts on the competition due to its standing as a “cultural tentpole for all issues leisure, tech and tradition,” as Jen Verdick, head of partnerships and client occasions for Amazon Prime, defined in an e mail.
Per Verdick, whereas Amazon Prime returned to in-person experiential efforts on the competition final 12 months, the streamer is “kicking it up a notch this 12 months” by creating a fake metropolis, Prime, Texas, to immerse attendees in experiences for 9 completely different titles, together with newer additions like “Daisy Jones and the Six” in addition to extra established ones like “The Boys,” amongst others.
Paramount+ is taking an analogous strategy to SXSW this 12 months. The streaming service will use an expertise known as “The Lodge” on the competition to spotlight “a broad mixture of experiences impressed by standard sequence and franchises together with ‘1923,’ ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Grease: Rise of the Pink Girls,’ ‘Faculty Spirits,’ ‘Deadly Attraction’ and extra,” Domenic DiMeglio, evp and CMO of Paramount Streaming, mentioned in an e mail.
Slack, in the meantime, is leaning into its expertise at SXSW as a part of a retooled strategy to advertising efforts for this 12 months, in line with Colin McRae, head of name and inventive at Slack.
“We’ve traditionally targeted on driving consciousness through a top-of-the-funnel, always-on strategy,” mentioned McRae, who added that with the present financial headwinds the corporate is being “rather more thought of with our model advertising efforts.”
Slack is focusing its efforts on tentpole moments like SXSW, with the competition being of explicit curiosity to the corporate as a result of its target market of “software program determination makers and small enterprise homeowners” congregate on the competition, McRae mentioned. This makes it “an superior alternative to speak to each and do it effectively,” McRae added.