Ever since Twitter blew up at SXSW back in 2007, brands large and small have been flooding Austin every year trying to replicate that success, pouring money into SXSW in what can be pretty ridiculous ways. Read about some of that ridiculousness below.
Does Grumpy Cat mean anything to you? How about Lil’ Bub? Well, in case you haven’t heard of them, they’re felines made famous by the internet. They and some of their celebrity cat friends made the rounds at SXSW to promote everything from cat food to cable television. And although there are plenty of cat-lovers out there, some people were a bit disillusioned with the prevalence of commercialized cats at SXSW this year.
Other companies paid more attention to those who love man’s best friend — for example, Mophie (a maker of battery backups and cases for phones and other devices) had a St. Bernard roaming the streets to save people from running out of power on their mobile devices.
The real drama, though, came from Meerkat. The live video streaming startup lost access to Twitter’s social network on the first day of SXSW. If that wasn’t bad enough, Twitter also happened to acquire one of Meerkat’s largest rivals, a company called Periscope. Needless to say, a lot of people wanted to talk to Meerkat’s CEO at the event. Surprisingly, he didn’t really have anything negative to say about Twitter in the midst of the debacle, at least publicly.
Whether you love them or you’re afraid that they’re going to take over the world, robots were on full display at SXSW this year. There was even a robot petting zoo (the first one in history) featuring robots designed for psychological counseling, introducing children to programming, and more.
Tinder also pulled off an interesting cyborg-related stunt that ended up promoting the new film Ex Machina. They basically created a fake (“bot”) Tinder profile modeled after the AI featured in the film. This bot then carried on conversations with Tinder users at SXSW, finally breaking many a heart with by directing users to an Instagram account with a picture and a video promoting Ex Machina.
Over 1,000 beacons were deployed around SXSW this year, primarily for the purpose of helping attendees network. Anyone who opted in was visible to others and could chat with anyone in attendance.
Finally, we can’t forget the giant GE barbecue. Or the fact that they measured people’s brain activity while eating various types of BBQ in an effort to determine the optimal temperature and smoke levels. GE — making BBQ better, one person at a time.