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SXSW as seen from someone who lives in a third world country

By Brandie Tan and Gabi Mendoza

The title is obviously clickbait, because despite the Philippines being called a “third world country,” it’s more advanced than people think it to be. This is especially true in the field of marketing and advertising. In fact, the country has produced some of the best ads in the world and is a hub for several businesses in the region.

I was sent to SXSW Festival’s Interactive Track by J. Walter Thompson and Mirum Asia Pacific, as part of a team of delegates. You might ask, “Why an interactive track, isn’t SXSW all about Music and Film? Isn’t that the event where HBO created a real-life WESTWORLD and people got to play cowboys and robots for a day?” Well, yes, but it’s but it’s also about celebrating Interactive industries; which entails innovation, marketing, and the future. The future is what SXSW is all about–New Films, New Music, New stuff. Marketing and Advertising are currently categorized under “Stuff,“ but should this still be the case?


Not at all. Many advertising agencies gave talks, such as “BEYOND ADS: BECOME ENTERTAINMENT” and “TRUST COGENCY AND AUTHENTICITY IN AN ANTI-AD WORLD.” In the latter mentioned talk given by Jason Viglione, Olapic’s Director of Global Technical Support, he shared how their company was able to bring brands to the forefront by simply ensuring effective use of authentic content and assets that are created by users. Olapic does this by sifting through and filtering visual user-generated content and then activating it through the different mediums of the brand. They basically make content creators out of the people who patronize the brands of the clients they cater to. These talks affirm a long-standing belief of advertising professionals; that good advertising, just like music and film, should be able to seamlessly flow with pop culture. Good advertising shouldn’t feel like advertising at all.

I also realized that being innovative doesn’t always mean you have to be technologically advanced. Brad Olsen, Peloton’s Experience Head said in his talk, “FITNESS IS MORE FUN WITH FRIENDS,” that all they did to enhance the overall experience of their consumers, was to innovate the way they shot and made use of their content. They sparked interest and increased usage for their stationary bikes by holding live classes on each bike that has a monitor. This makes you feel like you’re in a class without having to leave the comforts of your home.

The best advertisements should be sought after. If it’s good, people will go out of their way to interact with it. If it’s good people will watch it, listen to it, play with it, and find a use for it. You might even say that the best advertisements are products on their own.

WATCH. In a talk “SKAM: POWERFUL STORYTELLING IN REAL TIME,” the Norwegian producers discussed how they were able to gain success by integrating fictional events on television with real-time posts on social media; giving it a pseudo-realistic feel. The fictional characters of the show have Instagram accounts, and as you see them post things on TV, it comes out at the exact same time on your news feed. The integration of the two mediums in which the stories take place, make the overall experience of the viewer feel real and all the more exciting. Because of the traction it gained, they were able to tackle social issues many teenagers are currently struggling with; like loneliness, isolation, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, religious and ethnic differences.

LISTEN. I’VE GOT NO SCREENS: INTERNET’S SCREENLESS FUTURE’s talk was about the rise of Voice Assistants like Alexa and Siri. The way we market will have to adapt to a new behavior of people interacting with these voice-activated assistants.

PLAY. Mercedes Benz’ Area was placed in the Sir Swante Palm Neighborhood Park. They displayed their latest car models alongside a bar, picnic tables, and swings, giving off an adult playground feel to it. This experience was recently coined by J. Walter Thompson Intelligence as “Adult Play.”

USE. Andrew Keller, Facebook’s Creative Shop’s Global Creative Director, talked about how creating meaningful social groups can get people to stand for, and act on meaningful causes, in his talk THE IDEAS THAT BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER ARE THE ONES CHANGING THE WORLD.

It was tempting to write about how Artificial Intelligence is taking over the creative process or how Blockchain will be next big thing, but for now, knowing these few things should be helpful to any marketing or agency team, no matter where they are in the world— first world to third world.

Brandie Tan is the Executive Creative Director of J. Walter Thompson Philippines and was one of the Asia-Pacific delegates in the Interactive Track of SXSW 2018. Gabi Mendoza is a writer at J. Walter Thompson Philippines and is part of the team that created Globe Postpaid’s Create. The Life You Want. and Globe Platinum’s Create. Legacies.

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