From Boston to Austin: A ‘360’ View of SXSW

SXSW2014
Last week, I attended SXSW for the second year in a row. The massive, city-wide event in Austin is the intersection of three separate festivals – Interactive, Film and Music – bringing together creative minds from all over the world to share ideas, artistic creation and so much more.

Over the past few years, gaming has taken a larger focus at SXSW. As part of SXSW Interactive this year, a dedicated Gaming Expo was held,  where consumers were able to play popular video and tabletop games (including Magic: The Gathering, which yours truly gets to work on here at 360PR).  I sat in on a great talk with the head of Ubisoft’s Toronto studio, Jade Raymond. Raymond discussed how game properties are so much more than ‘just’ games these days – they are full-on entertainment brands. She also played up the importance of the social aspect of modern-day gaming represented by the ways that friends play together on and offline, discuss storylines, and interact with these properties beyond their TV screens.

On the health tech front, the “wearables” trend that really exploded at CES earlier this year continued to drive buzz. Even Shaq was in on the action, speaking on a panel about wearable technology’s role in a fit lifestyle.

Amid the music, the networking and the media, SXSW has also become a 10-day branding bonanza from Lady Gaga performing on the Doritos Bold Stage, to the Chevy Volt’s rides around town, to Uber’s pilot program in Austin, hundreds of big brands were out in force.

I’m looking forward to seeing how SXSW continues to grow and evolve from a brand marketing perspective – it certainly isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

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