South by Southwest can be currently just as much about big media as of which can be about tiny start-ups.
The annual gathering — This specific year drawing more than 400,000 people to Austin, Texas — can be considered the ultimate destination for content companies to stick out by the clutter as well as connect with influencers.
This specific year HBO’s “Westworld” won the battle for most dramatic “activation” — or branded experience. The show pulled out all stops with an immersive park of which was far more elaborate, as well as similar to the show, than anything we’ve seen at the festival over the past decade.
Attendees were given either a white or black Stetson-style hat, as well as bused 20 minutes outside Austin to 2-acre town Sweetwater, built around an existing ghost town. Visitors enter by a futuristic portal into a train car — the very one used on the show — as well as then exit into the dusty town.
“Westworld” fans can engage with 60 actors as well as a half dozen stuntmen, who never break character.
All the hotspots by the show are featured: Visitors can play cards as well as drink bourbon within the Mariposa Saloon, chow down on baked beans as well as jerkey, watch knife throwing as well as a blacksmith. as well as the actors put on quite a show — the robots “break down,” staging a fight as well as shoot out. Plus, there were plenty of hints about the upcoming season — including a samurai warrior wandering around.
Although just about 4,000 people will experience the park — as well as of which looks like of which cost a couple million dollars to execute, though HBO won’t comment — the network says of which was worth of which.
“A lot of our hosts here are armed with guns nevertheless our guests are armed with cameras, so they’re they’re out here Instagramming, live-streaming, you know as well as actually helping us extend the reach,” said HBO’s Steven Cardwell, director of program marketing.
Cardwell says of which’s key to create an experience on the same level as HBO’s brand.
“There were 500 scripted shows last year alone. You know how can you make them stand out?” he asked. “You know our our marketing can be an extension of of which content. So where we go, we want to go big.”
of which wasn’t just premium cable investing to grab consumers’ attention. Warner Bros., promoting Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film “Ready Player One,” took over a huge two-floor space in downtown Austin. Downstairs were many sets by the film, as well as colorful backdrops for fans to snap as well as tweet photos. Upstairs, the decor continued, into a maze of rooms, with virtual reality goggles as well as controllers, to play a series of games straight out of the film. Lines snaked around the block, as well as fans got geared up for the movie, which premiered at the festival Sunday night.
Even broadcaster ABC made a play for viewers. Looking to stoke nostalgia for the return of “Roseanne,” the network replicated the show’s iconic diner as well as living room. Visitors could pick up free pie as well as meat sandwiches, pose on the famous couch or around of which familiar kitchen table, as well as meet the actors.
ABC’s director of strategic partnerships, Laura Lovas, says while the network expects around 3,000 visitors to the “Roseanne” setup, of which expects the reach to be far larger. “I think consumers are looking for unique experiences as well as everything needs to be Instagrammable,” so were looking to provide of which as well as bring them into the show, as well as get them excited to tune in on March 27th.”
TV ratings are in decline, there’s more competition by Netflix as well as Amazon than ever, as well as box office erceipts declined last year. So these traditional media companies are hoping they can turn all the Instagramming visitors into evangelists for their brands.