The Role of Agencies at SXSW
by Cristian Ginori, Mescalina
First off, let’s state the obvious: SXSW is not about advertising. So why should agencies care?
From our perspective, SXSW is about convergence. It’s about where the development of industries, technology and behaviors is going; it’s a glimpse at where we must evolve to be relevant. It's also an amazing source of data and inspiration.
To truly take advantage of the festival, we had to take our advertisers hat off for a moment and stop seeing brand experiences through formats and executions and to embrace what the festival had to offer. Most of the knowledge didn't come from the panels or conferences; many of the best experiences happened on the streets, on the branded houses, during networking and with the cultural diversity which converged in Austin during the week. One can learn a ton just from talking to a stranger and listening to their story.
More than a learning experience, SXSW was an “un-learning” experience where we had to reset our minds and take a look at our work from a different point of view. The exhibition of films and music from all over the world made us realize that we have many unexplored ways to create stuff that people can simply enjoy, and it’s easy to forget that a fundamental premise of modern advertising is precisely about creating contents, products or tools that people genuinely want to try. This back-to-basics experience is a good platform to rethink the branded experiences we’re creating for our clients. It sets a standard in how future ad “formats” should look like, and creatively it means a massive input where new ideas are flowing in each conversation, panel, film or concert you’re attending. Trying to do a bit of everything is the best one can do to ignite new and creative thinking.
Advertising is a selfish industry most of the time: we live in a bubble of pitches, campaigns and deadlines, so SXSW is an opportunity to get out of it, embrace what’s coming and return to the agency with a new vision, with hunger to push our clients further and with the purpose of setting a new normality for our industry.
No matter if it’s a digital, traditional, PR, design or any kind of agency, SXSW is the place to be to acquire vision, to plan for the future and see how near or far we are from it and how we need to reshape our agencies to go in the right direction and keep up with the evolution of the industry overall.
Still hesitant on attending? As one of the few Mexican agencies to be present at SXSW, we encourage you to give it a shot by attending next year's festival. SXSW offers a new perspective on the creative industry as a whole and where our work needs to be directed in order to remain ahead of the curve.
About the Author: As a Creative Director at Mescalina, Cristian brings his tech oriented mind to create communication strategies and change the reality of brands by asking the hard questions, finding the right problems and creating new solutions. After 8 years in advertising, his goal is to break the mold and set the new normal in order to evolve the industry. He likes to spend his money on technology, his time on creativity and his life on food.