HGA Member, CLINK, Rocks SXSW
SXSW. Is it a music festival? A trade show? A party? What is it? All of the above! SXSW (“South by Southwest,” referred to just as “South By” by locals) is a 10-day extravaganza that basically takes over the city of Austin every year in mid-March. The entire city turns into one big convention/festival, every single hotel room is sold out (at a serious premium!) and nary a dinner reservation can be found. It is a unique convergence of Interactive/Hi-Tech, Film, and of course, Music. Every day there are educational sessions and keynote speakers in the Austin Convention Center and various downtown hotels, but it goes far beyond the official education and trade show. The entire downtown area is taken over by companies and groups. Many companies will find a location – like a bar, restaurant…even a yoga studio or parking lot, do a complete buyout for a multi-day activation, re-brand the location in its entirety, and host ongoing events like panels, demos, media junkets, and of course, parties!
This year the conference kicked off with a keynote speech by President Obama, where he shared his insight about technology and civic engagement. He talked about ways to increase participation in the political process and fighting climate change. And just five days later, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke on a panel during the Music portion of the conference – alongside hip-hop artist, Missy Elliott, songwriter, Diane Warren, Queen Latifa, and actress, Sophia Bush. Mrs. Obama spoke about “Let Girls Learn,” a government initiative that times to provide the public with ways to help girls get a quality education.
Every year, CLINK works with several clients to produce their activations and events. We love to help our clients show the world who they are and why they’re here! This year, we had 11 events and were completely “sold out” several weeks in advance of the conference. We helped our clients with everything from a 2-day activation with panels, entertainment and food and beverage to a branded technology demo activation that we built out from the ground up – on a bare parking lot! We service many big brands who need the help of a local Austin expert to make their events shine! Our team worked non-stop, and even through the night to load in events for the following days.
One of our favorite events is for a client we’ve worked with for three straight years. They do a 400-person summit for the technology industry. It’s a fast-paced, Ted-style day of presentations and panels with high-level presenters and guests. We held the event in Austin’s famous Zach Topfer Theatre. The highlight of the day was when the director of SXSW Interactive – Hugh Forrest – talked about the growth of SXSW Interactive from its infancy in 1994 to today – with 35,000 attendees it has now overtaken SXSW Music as the largest and most well-attended part of the festival.
In addition to producing the sessions inside the theater, we installed a huge Sperry tent in the venue courtyard where we hosted breakfast and lunch. While the afternoon presentations were happening, our team flipped the tent from the luncheon setup into a great lounge-style setting for a fun, post-event cocktail party. Oh and did I mention it was raining all day?! No matter – the guests were dry and cozy in the beautiful tent and were able to get comfy in some vintage Austin lounge vignettes while listening to some great live music.
After an intense period of non-stop events, the CLINKers celebrated in style with champagne and pedicures – to pamper our weary feet! Bring on SXSW 2017!