We’re still wreaking havoc in Austin! Here’s a an overview of what I’ve been up to –sending a little SXSWi report to give you a peek at what’s going on here. We’ll take a more comprehensive look at these panels and others we attended when it’s all said and done.
This is my first time at SXSW. I knew it would be impossible to do everything so I set a few goals to help get the most out of the experience. One of my goals is to attend panels that cover topics that interest me as a woman, a web marketer, a writer and a minority in America. I have to admit, I’m pleased with my panel selections so far.
The Yoga Panel
No. This guy wasn’t the instructor, but he totally was giving out free hugs.
About the yoga though: It was interesting to see yoga offered as a panel. And it was an actual yoga class that any beginner could get through easily. It was a good experience for advanced yoga folks, too. The panel was surprisingly popular and we had to modify a few of the poses for the sake of space. Ari Stiles was a great instructor who made light of the crowded room and kept us all at ease. I left feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. If you missed Saturday Yoga, no worries. Tuesday Yoga will help you close out the conference feeling peaceful.
The Sex Part
Bedsider.org is funny, human and interesting enough that it got women to share their personal experiences with sex and protection on camera. They’re also a free support network for birth control. It sounds boring. I know. But it’s so not.
One of the major take aways from the panel Re-Branding Birth Control: Behavior Change through Design, was simply that it’s easier to have sex than to talk about how to have sex responsibly. Jennifer Maer and Lawrence Swiader did a beautiful job of illustrating how Bedsider has a conversation about sex and protection in a way that women can relate to: through girl talk.
Despite sex ed classes, religious teachings and Maury baby daddy episodes, young adults who say they don’t want to have kids yet also say they use birth control inconsistently. To that, the Bedsider team says awareness isn’t enough, and that part of the solution is to have the right tools and an agile approach to educating young adults about safe sex. Bedsider is a community supporting women who use birth control and rewarding them for getting it right. And they’re doing it all by design and conscious content creation.
If you’re into sex (no joke), check out this evening’s panel on Subtle Sexuality on TV.
Latino Link: Marketing to Spanish Speakers Using Digital Platforms
Ana Grace and Joe Kutchera facilitated a brilliant discussion on including Spanish speaking consumers in online marketing campaigns. Ana is leading the charge at BestBuy. She presented a case study on BestBuy’s Spanish language website that gave attendees an idea of how to approach this form of online inclusion. Some of the challenges the company overcame included deciding which version of Spanish to use (they went with universal Spanish), and whether or not to highlight special content to try to appeal to their Spanish speaking customers.
The major takeaway from this panel is that in the BestBuy case study, they learned consumers didn’t want different or “customized” content on the Spanish language site. Their target audience wanted the content to be identical to the content on the English language site. Also, it was an integrated campaign that relied a lot on the support of off line (in-store) components. The offline components included helping customers identify Spanish-speaking customer service reps that could help them in the store.
Keynote by SCVNGR founder Seth Priebatsch
Seth Priebatsch (founder of SCVNGR mobile check-in app) delivered a compelling keynote presentation. The main conference room was jam-packed so we watched the simulcast from a nearby conference room.
Priebatsch proposed a theory that suggests that we can solve some pretty big problems if we apply key elements of gaming to real life. He demonstrated the premise of his theory by getting the audience involved in a little bit of play time.
Each person in the audience had a card with two colors – one color on each side of the card. (Only in the live presentation, not the simulcast ones). The cards were placed randomly. The colors varied on each card and the room was filled to capacity. The challenge: get each person on a row the same color card. The prize: SCVNGR would donate $10k to The National Wildlife Federation.
It was a fairly difficult task. And it was timed –they got about 2.5 minutes to win the game. Players couldn’t get up from their seats (though I saw some people standing). The audience did well and completed the challenge with almost one minute to spare.
Branding Panel: Congratulations! Your Brand is about be Obsolete
This panel rocked my socks off. I was hesitant to go because, straight up, I didn’t want to get duped into watching a power point slide show about extinct brands and what they should’ve done. This panel was not that at all. The panel played to a packed house.
Andrea Ring and William Charnock of R/GA presented the audience with what would be a tough sell to the client of a marketing or branding agency:
Hey! Things couldn’t be better. You’re at the top of the game right now. Your brand is doing well –you’re the hottest thing going right now. In a word: you’re winning. Now let’s change everything completely. Don’t worry.
Thank me later.
Your Branding Agency
Scary. Charnock and Ring painted a clear picture of why changing while a brand is at the peak of its influence helps it avoid becoming obsolete. It’s a form of adapting overlooked by some brands that have failed. As an example, Ring and Charnock pointed out that lots of companies built their brands around selling fur, but cultural shifts made that change. You have to be ready to shift when “shift happens.” The key to brands shifting when at the height of their success, according to Charnock and Ring, is to find your higher purpose as a company rather than focusing solely on a product.
Stay Tuned! There’s More.
These takeaways are just snippets of what I learned in each panel. There’s more information and takeaways from the rest of the team still to come. We’re taking in new ideas and making new friends every day we’re here. Look forward to seeing more of what we learned as we return from SXSW. Can’t wait for the wrap-up posts? Follow our tweets to participate in our SXSWi experiences!