Non-Tech Companies Cause Commotion at South By Southwest

Austin’s 30th annual film and music festival, South by Southwest, wrapped up this past Sunday. In addition to the keynote speakers, music, movies, food, and comedy, SXSW is a huge marketing event for companies large and small.

Startups that may not have been able to afford a booth at the official SXSW venues were canvasing the area, handing out promotional items and advertising their image in every way imaginable.

Big brands, meanwhile, had elaborate setups and flashy promotional events to draw attention and impress show goers.

American Greetings surprised everyone with their three-day event called “#Analog,” which featured all things paper. The greeting card company intended to disrupt the festival’s digital focus by reminding attendees that “analog” paper greeting cards still have a unique role in today’s world.

Alex Ho, executive director of marketing for American Greetings stated, “Our role at SXSW is not to say that analog is a replacement for digital or is more or less relevant.” He added, “Analog and digital are not at war; they are complimentary.”

The event took place on East 6th Street and encouraged festivalgoers to exercise their creativity through DIY printmaking and pop-up cards, get a selfie stitched with thread, fill in a coloring-book wall mural, and more.

Hershey’s was another brand that presented a different kind of vibe in the tech-centered festival.

With the assistance from advertising agency Barkley, the Hershey’s exhibit held what they called the “Swag Exchange.” SXSW attendees were able to trade branded merchandise for things they actually wanted, like portable iPhone projectors, flasks, gift cards, and ponchos.

“We knew we weren’t going to launch anything tech-related at SXSW,” said Katy Hornaday, Barkley’s vice president and creative director. “So the way we approached it was, ‘What is a consumer problem we can solve in order to be relevant in that space?”

The average U.S. trade show visitor spends nine and a half hours looking at exhibits. As one of the country’s largest trade shows with the most diverse attendees, SXSW featured a multitude of tech-forward exhibits designed to catch the consumer’s eye; Hershey’s and American Greetings, in particular, offered interactive exhibits that were unique enough to attract the attention of Millenials.

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