Archive for the 'Promotions' Category

The SXSW Schwag Bags

Now that the festival is finally over, I got a chance to check out my schwag bags in more detail. I got one from Interactive, Film and Music.

Now, from my experience as an art director, I can’t think of many worse projects than designing a piece of free ephemera to go into a trade show bag. There’s no real budget, it’s getting shoved in with a ton of other pieces and the bag might end up in the hands of some idiot like me who doesn’t even look at it until after the festival is done.

Overall, the bags were full of the things you’d expect…postcard-sized artwork, coasters, small branded pads of paper. Each canvas bag was branded with a sponsorship company. For Interactive, it was Adobe. There were lots of trade-specific flyers, a Sharpie key chain (I thought this was cool), different magazines including the most recent How Magazine.

The Film bag was sponsored by the new Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez movie Grindhouse. Again, tons of flyers for different movies playing during the festival, various trade magazines, and super thick brochure about making films in Georgia.

The Music bag was sponsored by The Duke, which is actually the government-backed, official organizitation representing bands from the UK. This was an interesting piece of branding. A lot of foreign countries will have specific events (Japan Nite and the New Zealand BBQ are among the better known), but only the UK has wrapped itself around a brand identity, in this case a comic book-styled, pipe smoking “superhero.” It’s not a bad idea to package the UK bands as simply as possible. The comic/brochure that came in the bag was beautifully produced. I question its overall effectivness, mainly because UK bands in general are so popular and influential right now. As for “The Duke” himself, he doesn’t really resonate with me. I see the comic book style as a disconnect, but I also understand that it’s a very different look than what’s expected…basically the entire lexicon of British rock iconography (the mod target, punk, scooters, the Beatles, etc).

The Music bag also had a hangover kit: aspirin, liquid coffee, mouthwash and a band-aid, all in a little plastic tube. The label states “distribution by Navarre,” which I’m assuming are these guys. There’s no branding whatsoever, not even a website. This is definitely one of the more clever items in the bag, but I think a missed opportunity for branding.

Also interesting to note is that each bag had a free sample of Nicogel, a cigarette replacement product you wipe on your hands. Perhaps Nicogel heard about the controversial smoking ban that passed in Austin a year and a half ago.

And finally, the Music bag had two condom samples. One was a Trojan brand. Trojan also had street teams handing out condoms the whole week. There’s nothing more awkward than walking down 6th street at 2am and having some dude hand you a condom. And the other was a generic one, but branded by Nail Distribution, with a headline that states “Get Nailed.” (get it?). For some reason, both the Interactive and the Film bags were condom-free, but the implication here can speak for itself.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

Good Cards

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This little promotion from Good Magazine caught my eye: Mogul Trading cards. The magazine is a hip take on society, politics and culture and the cards feature different moguls with baseball-like stats on the back. What surprised me even more is that the rocker friends I was with put down their tall cans to start trading these. The cards are hip, ironic and fleeting. Obviously no one will keep them, but they did make me want to check out Good.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

SXSW Film Trade Show

Ah, the trade show… how do you compete for visual space, and win? I’m guessing there were some restrictions for the floor here, because I was expecting some pretty out-there booths. But there were a few that still stood out to me.

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This one from Acutrack is a standard floor display, but the graphics are cool and make sense, brand-wise. They provide flexible production options for indie bands, and every indie scene in the country has a stretch of street with a wooden fence with black and white flyers stapled all over. It makes me wish I was at Emo’s right now with a Lone Star tall.

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Tucked away in a corner was the Google booth. It’s deceptively simple. But Google can get away with that. Just a nice bright logo, a few inviting chairs and some wood flooring. It felt like hanging out in a nice kitchen, just being at home and leisurely checking the gmail.

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And then there was this one, from a group called Couriers of Ruin. This booth looked like it fell out of another dimension, and I’m sure the guys running this would be cool with that. The booth is equal parts trippy outer space, old west carnival and fantasy heavy metal. As for what they do? From what I can tell they are creating a massive, multi-sensory, high-concept, chapter-based narrative available on CD or download. Uh, huh. Also, putting together their entire trade booth cost only 500 bucks. Now that’s pretty smart, and definitely down-to-earth.

posted by Bryan Keplesky

WWJB?

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Poster for What Would Jesus Buy?, taped onto an electrical box about a block away from the festival.

Initial Thoughts on SXSW ’07

In a little more than a week Austin becomes a completely different city. Actually I’d go further and say that Austin becomes sort of its own parallel universe, where watching hundreds of bands or movies, drinking beer at 11 in the morning or seeing Dan Rather hanging out with Leslie on 6th Street will be considered normal activities.

Austin will also host thousands upon thousands of advertising messages. The first half of the festival, the Interactive and Film, did a great job this year by providing a lot of panels dealing with different forms of advertising, particularly with new and experimental media. And when the Music starts on March 14 the real advertising blitz begins, right on 6th Street. Every year I’ve seen some pretty unique and successful marketing campaigns, but I’ve seen just as many bad ones. I’m not going to pre-judge or slam the industry. I just want to be surprised. Austin has a great cross-section of demographics, and all the major media outlets and publications will be in town. In a way Austin becomes a great testing ground to see what trends will stick and which ones will fall flat for the next year.

posted by Bryan Keplesky 


What’s Behind the Door?

SXSW is an Austin event. And Door Number 3 is an Austin advertising agency. We're interested in how new ideas in advertising, media and branding will be presented during these 9 quick days. From inside the lecture halls where top specialists present their thoughts, to out on the streets where advertising is put to the test on tens of thousands of festival-goers. We'll be there with the complete coverage, reports, photos, editorials, and perhaps some tricks on how to sneak into a few sweet afterparties.

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