The New York Times

The New York Times descends on Austin for the 2013 South by Southwest Interactive festival.
Tagged: marketing
What’s the story this year? The weather? Long-form journalism? Gamification? Jay-Z’s fonts? Who knows, but everyone shares at least one takeaway. As at past SXSW Interactive festivals, relentless person-to-person marketing is the ambient noise humming behind every panel, party and taco truck. We’ve seen the walking USB chargers and the bottomless free energy drinks available at so many downtown corners. Big brands with big marketing budgets live in these spaces - FedEx, Monster and Red Bull. During the weekend rains, agents dispatched by Kraft handed out umbrellas. The price? Allow them to use your phone to take a picture of you holding the umbrella. Then you upload that photo to Twitter with the hashtag #keepyournoodledry. But many smaller players have unleashed pairs of young mercenaries armed with matching loud T-shirts, stacks of flyers and a gimmick upon Austin. They roam the streets with coupons and bottle openers, or invitations to “be a beta tester.” This low-tech, face-to-face and possibly inefficient strategy is prevalent at an event celebrating the wondrous utopia of connected media. It’s slow going and often requires two foot soldiers to attract the momentary focus of just one individual target. If the overburdened network ever went down, though, these kids would be there to spread the message. — Andrew Kueneman

What’s the story this year? The weather? Long-form journalism? Gamification? Jay-Z’s fonts? Who knows, but everyone shares at least one takeaway. As at past SXSW Interactive festivals, relentless person-to-person marketing is the ambient noise humming behind every panel, party and taco truck. We’ve seen the walking USB chargers and the bottomless free energy drinks available at so many downtown corners. Big brands with big marketing budgets live in these spaces - FedEx, Monster and Red Bull. During the weekend rains, agents dispatched by Kraft handed out umbrellas. The price? Allow them to use your phone to take a picture of you holding the umbrella. Then you upload that photo to Twitter with the hashtag #keepyournoodledry. But many smaller players have unleashed pairs of young mercenaries armed with matching loud T-shirts, stacks of flyers and a gimmick upon Austin. They roam the streets with coupons and bottle openers, or invitations to “be a beta tester.” This low-tech, face-to-face and possibly inefficient strategy is prevalent at an event celebrating the wondrous utopia of connected media. It’s slow going and often requires two foot soldiers to attract the momentary focus of just one individual target. If the overburdened network ever went down, though, these kids would be there to spread the message. — Andrew Kueneman