SXSW Interactive 2012: Brands solving problems and creating story-worthy experiences win

March 21, 2012 MullenLowe

Kraft's umbrellas came in handy during the rainy Austin week

So, as SXSW Interactive comes to an end the biggest takeaway I had is that the brands that find a simple problem to solve, but don’t overstep their role or make solutions too self-serving, win.

The rain (Kraft umbrellas, “Keep Your Noodle Dry”), the lines (apps that help you find friends nearby, i.e., Highlight), the constant need to recharge smartphone batteries (FedEx battery couriers) and the difficulty finding a cab (“Catch A Chevy” free rides) were all areas brands provided solutions that were well received by the crowd.

It’s a bit obvious, but this can scale far outside the festival. Keynote speaker and Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case captured it best saying, “Technology should make life easier, but get out of the way so we can live our lives without unnecessary distraction.” In our case, “technology” and “brands” are synonymous.

Jay-Z performing for AMEX members

Additionally, interesting themes emerged around creating new models, experiences and worlds that entertain, amaze and surprise/delight. AMEX (refreshed new positioning “membership has benefits”  with exclusive Jay-Z concert for members) and Nike (created dazzling displays that interacted with their new FuelBand) were very impressive examples of this and were frequent topics of conversation among festival goers.

In the end, people are looking for good stories, either that they can tell or that they can use to forge deeper connections to others. This focus will likely shape the future of brand actions, new apps and technologies to come. And the brands that meet these needs will come out winners.