SXSW 2014 Wrap-up: Day 2

Kristina Halvorson in front of SXSW banner

Kristina Halvorson’s session at SXSW was titled “Go Home Marketing, You Are Drunk!” (Photo: Hanns-Peter Nagel)

Mind-blowing Thought of the Day:

Remember the “Oreo” moment at last year’s Superbowl? When the lights went out in New Orleans, a team of creatives came up with a starkly lit picture of an Oreo and the tagline “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” It got 15000 retweets, 20000 Facebook likes and the undying adulation of the press and marketing world. The little tweet that could won several prizes and heralded a new age of “real-time advertising”.

According to Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Braintraffic, and one of the most vocal proponents of content strategy, the tweet and especially the reaction to it did not signal a new era of marketing but showed what’s wrong with it. Only 0.008% of Twitter users saw the tweet but suddenly every big brand needed a “reaction team”. Similarly, when Coca-Cola decided to ditch their classic brand website and go with storytelling and content marketing other brands followed and soon it become hard for customers to find simple product information among all the “5 Mixed Drinks You Need to Try” stories.

So here is Halvorson’s message: Don’t listen to other marketers, listen to your customers and give them what they need. Don’t chase the shiny new thing, don’t just create more and more content. Instead, slow  down and fix what’s broken and come up with a strategy you can actually sustain. Seems simple, but so hard to do.

Biggest Disappointment:

The party I Fucking Love Science Channel featuring Bill Nye, Eugene Merman, Kari and Tory from Mythbusters, and host Craig Ferguson might have been fun after all, but Mother Nature did not look kindly on it. Rain had already soaked the non-VIPs who had waited in labyrinthine lines for hours (yours truly right in their midst) when a particularly strong downpour turned the outdoor venue into mud pit teeming with poncho-clad (no umbrellas allowed) techies. Probably not the best party choice.

Quote(s) of the Day

A tie. Number one was a public announcement at the SXSW gaming convention: “We are looking for another lost child. Don’t give him Legos.” Number two comes from the always entertaining Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson): “If I want to check in for a flight at the United airlines website, I want to poke out my eye with a hot fork.”

Pedicab driver in rain

Pedicab in Austin rain. (Photograph: Carolyn Higgins)

Image of the Day

Yes, it was raining in Austin today. And yes, Austin needs it because of the drought, blah, blah, blah. We are from Seattle, we definitely don’t need it.

On a side note: Uber which is currently enlisting all the assembled SXSW techies to lobby the Austin City Council via social media to scrap fare limits actually has a Pedicab service here. So if you want, you can use your Uber app to call somebody to pedal you around.

Woman in transparent poncho with iPad

(Photo: Hanns-Peter Nagel)

Outfit of the Day:

Here in Seattle we face rain with ultra-functional rain gear, but in Austin you have to be more creative. This lovely woman on the left is sporting a transparent poncho that also works really well with an iPad.

Most Eye-catching Logo Choice

Julian Assange’s appearance via Skype was not only notable for his strong opinions on privacy and the strangely familiar Skype problems but also for the constantly dripping Wikileaks hourglass logo in the background. Vaguely reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s melting clocks, it gave the already strange living situation of Assange an even more surreal touch.

Hidden Gem of the Day:

Learning about social entrepreneurism through the brand new goods redistribution start-up, Connect 2 Good.

Something We Will All Do in 10 Years:

Sleep. I will start now.

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