The 24 Craziest Things Companies Did To Get Attention At South By Southwest

Coolio sxsw 2013Venrock’s Richard Kerby (right) with Coolio.

Photo: Business Insider

Every year, tens of thousands of people fly south for the winter.They head to Austin, Texas, during March to experience South by Southwest, an interactive, film and music conference that draws more than 120,000 people over the course of one week.

It’s a great place for brands to promote themselves, because the town is taken over by early adopters looking for the next big thing.

This year, big companies like Showtime, Microsoft, Samsung, and Yahoo had a big presence at the conference. Startups such as Highlight and Foursquare also try to make a big impact by throwing open-bar parties, inviting singers to perform at their venues, and more.

Here’s the big, buzzy way brands promoted themselves in Austin this year.

Google rented a building right next to the Austin Convention centre, where the conference takes place. It had games like cornhole where guests could come and take a break from panels.

Samsung had a big presence at SXSW with multiple areas around Austin devoted to promoting its products. This pop-up shop was one of them, with hundreds of devices on display inside.

Tom Cruise's new movie, Oblivion, set up large, strange contraptions like this helicopter to promote the flick.

TaskRabbit, a startup that helps you find neighbours who will run your errands, handed out ice cream in a giant, furry truck.

Here's one of the Highlight co-founders (on right) handing them out.

The Wall Street Journal had a pool party with a live band.

Here's a shot of the pool with the crowd just beginning to fill up. Yes, people went swimming.

Path, Spotify and Ashton Kutcher had a party with the band Jane's Addiction and Coolio.

Windows had a huge room rented out where guests could relax, order drinks from an open bar and play Xbox.

Inside, there was a wall of Surfaces.

Here are people playing Xbox.

There was a live DJ who mixed songs using a giant touchscreen.

And paint lined the walls so guests could graffiti the building.

The XBox game Defiance had a whole lot all to itself which lured conference goers at day and at night.

Mashable had a raging Mash Bash party with a line wrapped around the block, a three-floor open bar and a live DJ.

During the day, Mashable had a popular tent set up which also had a line wrapped around the block. In the tent was meme star, Grumpy Cat.

The inventor of 3D printing was in Austin, wearing a printer strapped to his chest.

Esurance was giving away expensive prizes such as iPads at its monstrous display inside the Austin Convention centre.

Startup LevelUp (formerly Scvngr) ran around in orange T-shirts and made sure guests could pay via its app at many of the food stands inside the convention centre.

American Airlines set up shop in the convention centre too, featuring conference tweets on a large screen and flight times.

Uber hasn't launched in Austin yet, but the real-time driver service hired a fleet of cars to pick up guests, as well as branded pedicabs.

Salesforce gave guests rides in branded golf carts, a step up from a pedicab. It also had a Cloud Room set up, where Mike Lazerow and Unilever executives held a low-key brunch.

Fast Company rented out a building and had the Fast Company Grill full of food and drinks. It had the same set up last year.

Lyft, a startup that offers a ride-sharing service in San Francisco and Los Angeles, gave conference goers piggyback rides.

3M had a hologram of a woman who acted like a sales person and interacted with people as they passed by.

Chevy dedicated multiple areas of Austin to its cars. Next to the convention centre, Chevy allowed guests to test drive multiple vehicles including a camaro.

Showtime sponsored the conference itself, getting itself featured on all of the conference's buses, as well as its mobile app.

GroupMe had its token Grill set up next to the convention centre. It gave away free beer and grilled cheese sandwiches to conference goers.

Rackspace rented a bar near the convention centre full of computer screens, live interviews, live music and more.

Now see the elaborate things brands did last year:

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