SXSW 2013: "I'm with the brand..." - Reverb

SXSW 2013: “I’m with the brand…”

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” –Lloyd Dobler, “Say Anything”

Austin, Texas – Would you rather be a buzz band or a buzz brand?

The Doritos “Bold Stage,” a towering mock vending machine which doubles as a performance area, is perhaps the most visible example of a brand trying and failing to engage with this sea of hipsters.

Brand proliferation is not a new concept at SXSW 2013, though it was at least once reserved for the intersecting industries of media, public relations, management companies and record labels. If you ran a music magazine, you hosted a party to build your brand. If you ran a label, you hosted a showcase of your current roster to increase exposure. Things made sense.

But now, if you create anything — literally, anything — you can justify sending scores of brand ambassadors to Austin this week.

Food For Lovers, “makers of the world’s first vegan queso,” paired their free samples at the Brooklyn Vegan party with the hash tag “#sxvq.” At the HGTV/Paste party, you could snap a photo with a man in a Sasquatch costume wearing Tretorn rubber boots. At the Spin House, attendees traded volleys on bright blue eSurance ping-pong tables. At Fader Fort, a patron walked through one of the Converse-branded hallways wearing a red and white Budweiser T-shirt, drinking a complimentary can of Budweiser. A few feet away,  you could grab an ice cold Vitamin Water from the multi-color Vitamin Water booth served by Vitamin Water brand experts in branded shirts that matched the flavor of their respective beverage. You were handed Zico Chocolate Coconut Water as you waited in line for your Fader + Converse branded wristband. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to water, you could swing by the SXSW Urban Oasis Presented by Brita®.

The festival — like mass market television, film and radio — is merely an avenue to the consumers.

Today, at the convention center, attendees have the choice of attending not one but two panels with the word “brand” in the title:

“Brands Are Music Fans Too”

“The Future Of Cultural Branding”

We will report back tomorrow with insights as to how we’re creating our own brand experience. Closing the brand loop. Fulfilling our personal brand expansion, our brandspansion.

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John Hendrickson is the Entertainment Editor at Digital First Media and the former Managing Editor of Reverb.

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