South by Southwest (SXSW), the popular March festival in Austin, Texas, is where creative people and advertising agencies gather to showcase emerging ideas, artistry, and opportunities for collaboration. As IPG prepares to experience and present at this year’s 10-day festival, reviewing content curated by intra-network agencies can be a great way to prepare for the knowledge-rich events to come. Attendees can anticipate a focus on advancements in marketing, tech, wellness and corporate social responsibility.
Notable themes in key areas are as follows:
In recent years, the marketing and advertising industries have made conscious efforts to be more authentic as consumers have raised the bar on their expectations of brand identities, values and accountability. With the expansion of media, consumers have become increasingly vocal about what they are willing to support and promote. Brands will continue to evolve to keep pace with consumers’ values and voices. FutureBrand’s How to Make a Brand “World Proof” echoes the importance of brands being a safe haven, enriching people’s lives and breaking geographic barriers in order to maintain relevance and foster trust among consumers.
There will be a number of SXSW events discussing the importance of brand activism and values-based marketing and the impact they have at consumer and corporate levels.
Corporate Social Responsibility
As the world continues to recover from COVID-19, work culture has shifted immensely. Post-COVID economic uncertainty has triggered adverse reactions—while employees are beginning to demand more as a means to achieve work-life balance and combat inflation, employers are dealing with precautionary budgets and limited flexibility. Employers are faced with heightened expectations and are navigating favorable solutions. Recently, KRC Research and Weber Shandwick surveyed how leaders and workers are traversing the evolution. Eddie Hull, Strategy Director, Culture Practice Lead of FutureBrand, will also weigh in on the ongoing challenge during a SXSW panel discussion, Reimagining the Employee Value Proposition, on Saturday, March 11th.
With work culture facing such drastic changes, naturally, this year’s events are focused on reiterating the importance of diversity, inclusion, accessibility and sustainability and the role they all play in the workplace. These are the coveted essentials of reformed work culture. SXSW recognizes these pillars and has put together a riveting lineup of panels, presentations, and showcases. For example, R/GA’s Leading by Design: Why Women Creatives are the Heartbeat of an Organization happening on Sunday, March 12th, will serve as an ode to gender diversity and the ever-increasing value of women in the workplace.
Deutsch NY’s Summer C.A.M.P. initiative—a Creative, Advertising, and Media Program intended to mentor rising talent, dissipate barriers, and expand access to a wider net of entry-level professionals—was additionally nominated as a finalist for the SXSW Innovation Awards in the Mid-Sized DEI Workplace Innovation category. Those attending in Austin and virtually can look forward to more discussions like these, which will amplify women in leadership, environmental wellness efforts, accessibility in design, and more.
The realm of technology continues to expand rapidly across all industries. Like many other industry events, SXSW highlights the latest innovations and initiatives. The growth in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the metaverse and how they all lend themselves to the changing pace of marketing and tech will undoubtedly be prominent.
Within the IPG community, there have been major developments regarding tech trends and advancements that can serve as insightful resources as our agencies seek to stay informed of pivotal shifts and updates. Just last year, MAGNA published a study, The Augmented Reality Playbook: Understanding the Role of AR in the Purchase Journey, focused on dissecting the role of AR lenses and ads in the consumer purchase journey. And in December, MullenLowe shared research on the metaverse, its target consumer, and what brands should consider doing to help develop themselves virtually—more of which will be highlighted during SXSW.
Health & Wellness
Advancements in tech have also encouraged growth and updates within healthcare and have had a hand in ameliorating the challenges of health equity as we know it. Topics like maternal health, mental health, and health studies will be spotlighted across the vast index of SXSW events and discussions.
On the first day of SXSW, IPG Health will draw awareness to the importance of racial representation in health research, specifically in clinical trials. The Clinical Trials: Innovating for Inclusion event will feature experts who will discuss how tech accessibility may help alleviate some of these long-standing disparities. For the past few years, healthcare, and its future, have been a focal point for IPG, brands, and consumers. Healthtech innovations have only further magnified that focus.
Recent health and wellness developments have fortified themselves with technological foundations, like the use of artificial intelligence and expansion into the metaverse, as evaluated by Golin. These resources, as well as the upcoming conversations at SXSW, draw awareness to the direction that healthcare is headed and how that may alter the consumer experience.
As you experience SXSW either in Austin or digitally, please keep these themes in mind and visit the IPG@SXSW Calendar for all the content and activations happening around our network this week. A full list of this year’s events can be found here.
Stay tuned for a recap of IPG’s presence at South by Southwest 2023 in the weeks ahead.