We are always keeping an eye out for exciting activations and exhibitions across the Globe to learn from and be inspired by. South By Southwest (SXSW) really provided us with this at their annual festival which took place from 10-19 March in Austin, Texas. The 10-day festival once again delivered a jam-packed agenda featuring a variety of activities for audiences to explore.
For those who do not know, SXSW attracts a diverse range of attendees from all over the world, and is renowned for its cutting-edge exhibitions and experiences, showcasing the latest trends in technology, art and culture. The 2023 festival promised to be no exception, with a wealth of experiential activations and exhibitions on offer. Let’s take a look at some of our favourite experiential activations and exhibitions at SXSW 2023.
If there is a brand that is widely known for its truly immersive shopping experience, it’s Lush Cosmetics. Lush Cosmetics has over 900 global stores and attended SXSW 2023 with an immersive activation that encouraged sampling, photo taking, and future forecasting.
The brand’s bath bombs were modeled over the 4 day activation in front of a beautiful foliage wall with live demonstrations of the products. This live demonstration of their products is integral to the Lush brand and well known among its consumers. Lush is also widely known for its colourful bath bombs and eco-friendly products, so the launch of their new Bath Bot was a showstopper at SXSW. Their new Bath Bot will provide consumers with a new audiovisual experience to add to their bathtime to make it more fun and relaxing. If you are someone who cannot live without your baths this product is most definitely going to catch your eye.
As well as being a visually pleasing activation it also highlighted Lush’ decision to leave TikTok and Meta owned platforms. Most attendees to SXSW are heavily involved in the tech industry so Lush most definitely made a statement.
Billboard returned for the 2023 iteration of SXSW by creating the space “THE STAGE”, a three-night star-studded concert series. The Billboard House, the American music entertainment magazine, partnered with Doritos to take the event-goers to “ANOTHER LEVEL” when it came to flavour throughout the festival. This meant that along with seeing top performances, attendees were also able to enjoy some Dorito dips inspired by the famous Doritos flavours to make their food experience ‘extra’.
The activation that took place at the Billboard house was an exclusive food experience where pass holders could continue their night dining with Doritos After Dark. The after hours experience included globally inspired foods with a side of your favourite Doritos.
It’s Doritos… After Dark with @billboard and @anderson.paak 🔺#sxsw♬ original sound - Doritos
The Audible Sound Studio really captivated everyones interested at SXSW with their immersive experience that showcased the company’s various storytelling offerings. Photo ops, temporary tattoos and live Dj sets were among the themed experiences on offer – along with pass holders having the opportunity to record their very own song!
The branded listening pods took the form of speakers where guests were invited to experience their favourites from Audible as well as record their own stories on vinyl. For anyone that loves music or producing this was an experience worth checking out!
Audible also brought its Words + Music series to life with an adjacent lounge. The lounge included record players where attendees could sample the records as well as the photo-worthy wall which included all 35 books of the series. The leather and wood materials in this space provided users with a space where they could really immerse themselves in a chilled out zone that allowed them to soak into the full experience.
With TikTok dominating the current social media landscape, it’s no surprise they are having a strong presence at festivals that highlight the leading marketing brands to date. TikTok hosted a nighttime SXSW kickoff party that greeted guests with a photo-worthy entrance adorned in blue and red lights, incorporating their recognisable brand colours from their logo. The event also featured content-creating hubs, lounge spaces, and a variety of food and beverage options where people were encouraged to capture their own content on the night. Popular performers who gained fame on the social platform performed on stage throughout the night, too.
If you haven’t heard of Roku yet- you soon will! Roku is a video streaming platform that is quickly catching pace with favored streaming platform, Netflix. They partnered with Best Buy (an electronic retailer) to bring the SXSW audience to RokuCity! At this activation, participants were fully immersed in a variety of entrancing Roku screensavers as if they were stepping inside them. Upon arrival, actors dressed in costumes, greeted them and offered a purple drink – a clever play on the iconic film ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with the label ‘drink me’.
Guests were then invited into an immersive vintage style salon room that had a purple hue, fitting both the theme and brand. Representatives from Roku embellished the attendees with purple rhinestones before sending them off to explore Roku City.
The experience didn’t stop after the salon, because as guests moved through Roku city they passed through different elements of the activation which was themed with pieces from pop culture movies favourites such as Pirates of the Carribean and Mary Poppins. The imaginative experiences throughout Roku City were designed to showcase their latest devices in a fun and interactive way and we think that they nailed the brief.
And that’s a wrap on our thoughts on this year’s SXSW stand-out brands. As usual, the festival showcased a diverse range of innovative, immersive, and engaging activations that gave attendees personalised and unique experiences. Whether it’s a virtual reality experience, or a product sampling station, brand activations create a space for event attendees to engage with the brand in a meaningful way and we think that this year’s SXSW never lets its attendees down!
If you are looking to create some unique brand experiences or want to bring your brand to life then our team would love to help!
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