Adrants Rawked by SXSW...And It's Only the First Day


The uber-conference/festival South by Southwest kicked off Friday and it's very, very different than your average advertising conference mostly because, well, it's not really about advertising. SXSW (as it's called) is three shows in one. There's Interactive which deals with all things online/internet/technology and geek-related. This is where the advertising portion of the show falls and it's why I'm here as a panelists to discuss the ten or so worst social media campiagns we've seen in the past few years.

For the panel, I'll be talking about Walmart's fake blog, Wal-marting Across America, Target's Rounders, an initially no-so-forthcoming program where participants where asked to hype without disclosure and the Mentos/Diet Coke phenomenon which Mentos smartly embraced and Coke dissed...until, of course the usurped it for themselves...eight months later.

I'll be a panelist with ClickZ's Rebecca Lieb, CUNY Professor and BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis, Beam Global's Charlotte Selles and BlogsAds' Henry Copeland who will moderate. We all hope to have a lot of fun offering up soome good 'ol "what the fuck where they thinking" amusement.

So yes, there's a place for advertising-related topics at SXSW but it's really a minor part of the show. The two other elements of the show are Film and Music. Film is a little but like Sundance where people have the chance to see upcoming films before they are released or films that don't necessarily have distribution yet. And, you get to hang with Hollywood folks like Helen Hunt, Michael Eisner and Billy Bob Thornton. I'm hoping to fit in a viewing to 21, a true story about a few MIT students who learned how to count cards and took Vegas for millions.

And then there's Music which occurs during the latter half of the week. Basically, it's an orgasm for music lovers. All music, all the time, in every venue in the city. Sadly, I won't be staying for that part of the week cause, ya know, there this writing on Adrants thing to do.

I attended one of the first panels on Friday entitled How to Rawk SXSW: The Basics, at which the panelists collective drank a bottle of Bushmills and told show neophytes such as myslef what to expect. Basically, it was all about hangover management. Oh, and a little bit about which beer to drink. OK, and yea, there was a bit about which panels to attend. It was one of the most enjoyable and amusing conference sessions I've seen in a while and was capped off by one of the panelists climbing up on his chair to dance as an accordion guy sang a Britney Spears song. Most assuredly not your average advertising conference or conference of any kind.

Not to mention I got to sit next to my friend Ariel Waldman and Mahalo Daily's Veronica Belmont. Sweet.


And then there were the evening events. Just like the plethora of daytime panels which overlap ten at a time, one would have to slice themselves in pieces to make to all the parties occurring in any given night. This is where Twitter comes in really handy to find out where all your friends are and where the next party is. (That's Jeremy Hubert doing the "sunglasses at night" thing)

A group of us ended up at Champion's, a bar right across the street from the Austin Convention Center where I was hoping to meet Hugh MacLeod. the guy behind "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards" whom I've known for years but never physically met. Sadly, I just missed but thanks to the wonders of Twitter I know exactly where he is and I can track him down whenever I can.


I did run into Scott Monty with whom I worked with on an ooVoo project he handled through Joe Jaffe's Crayon. While he lives not more than ten miles from me in the physical world, both of us had to travel to Austin to finally meet each other. The wonders of conferences.

Along with finding Scott and several others, I met Krista Neher who works for P&G in Cincinnati and for a a start up called Photrade, an image right management company of sorts. We all traveled from place to place, party to party and in one case, created our own party again, thanks to the wonders of Twitter.

We missed Porter Novelli's Mix at Six party as the line was a couple hundred feet long but we did make it back to Six later in the evening for yet another impromptu party on Six's rooftop.

All in all, a great first day. I've been interested in going to SXSW for years. I'm glad I finally made it. Stay tuned. Oh and yea, Adrants isn't going to turn into an SXSW-fest. Angela's here and she's running the show while I'm away so you won't be missing out on any of the ad goodies we love to share with you.

by Steve Hall    Mar- 8-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Industry Events   

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Steve Hall was excellent on the Suxorz panel - my coverage here:

SXSW vs. TED - The Value of Preparation and Maturity

The Sarah Lacy Fiasco - The Bratton Perspective.

Sarah Lacy - Here's How to FIX Your Reputation

How to Conduct A Live On-Stage Interview

Posted by: Susan Bratton on March 10, 2008 7:14 PM

Very enjoyable panel. I really wanted "All I Want for Xmas Is a PSP" to win, though. :)

The most interesting thing that came out of it for me was the question of whether we only ever find out about the badly executed astroturfing campaigns. I guess one just develops a spidey sense for these things ...

Posted by: Jack on March 13, 2008 10:47 AM