“Brands & Marketing” Track: March 11–16

The Forrest Four-Cast: January 9, 2017

Content at the 2017 SXSW Conference spans 24 different tracks ranging from “Intelligent Future” to “Food” to “Social Impact” to “Sports” to “Entertainment Influencers” to “Experiential Storytelling.” Refer to the grid on this page to better understand these two dozen session groupings.

One of the most popular tracks for March in Austin will likely be “Brands & Marketing,” which covers the ever-increasing intersection between the once separate worlds of Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. Here are the ten sessions that I find most compelling in this track:

  1. Brain, Behavior, Story: Mind-Changing Narratives. In September, we tagged neuroscience as one of the big trends for SXSW 2017. In this solo presentation, the global chairman of Ogilvy PR (Christopher Graves) outlines why behavioral science and narrative theory makes for much more effective storytelling.
  2. Clickbait with a Conscience: Gimmick Free and Open. Join internet non-profit heavyweights Wikimedia and Mozilla plus tech privacy upstart SpiderOak to discuss simultaneously saving the Internet and reinvent brand marketing by being transparent, vulnerable and open
  3. Compassionate Disruption. This session focuses on lessons to learn as the world’s oldest and largest community evaluates and adapts to new forms of media. Speakers include Bishop Paul Tighe, who currently serves as the Adjunct Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture at the Vatican in Rome.
  4. Conversational Chatbots: Your Brand’s Duty! Its 2017 and every brand wants to take advantage of chatbot technology to better interact with their customers. Attend this session to learn what really works (and really doesn’t work) for this much-hyped new space.
  5. Diversity Now: Pushing Boundaries Forward. In recent years, more brands have been throwing around the d-word in their ads as a way to attract positive attention. But true inclusion needs to be more than a marketing statement. This session makes the case for a 360º diversity strategy in the branding from the inside out.
  6. Good is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn. Part of the ever-popular SXSW Book Reading program, this session tracks a new generation of leaders who believe that using their talents, creativity and resources to impact the greater good is the coolest thing they could do — and that everyone can find a way to get involved.
  7. Nowhere to Hide: The Reality of Online Privacy. This panel will examine the personas of different online users and their views on privacy. Personal information has become currency for consumer experiences and access. But how big is the risk and what are we really giving up in exchange?
  8. The Power of Hello: Maximizing SXSW Meet Up. Austin native Thom Singer specializes in maximizing the conference experience via better networking. Attend his Meet Up to learn pro tips on the best ways to meet more of the kind of people you want to meet in March in Austin.
  9. Snapchat for Business: Working With Influencers. Discover insights around why your brand should hire an influencer, the key differences between storytelling vs. marketing, along with tips and tricks for using Snapchat in your business.
  10. TSA Instagram: Inform, Educate, Entertain and Rock. Almost everyone hates the dreaded airport security experience, right? Learning how the TSA has tried to soften its image via strategic use of social media will give you lots of compelling context on how you can do the same to make your business more friendly.

Note that this “Brands & Marketing” track begins on Saturday, March 11 and extends all the way to Thursday, March 16. Many of the close-in downtown hotels tend to have more availability in the March 15–16 timeframe. Likewise, many of the close-in downtown hotels tend to have cheaper nightly rates during the second half of SXSWeek.

Buy a SXSW badge to attend these Branding & Marketing sessions (as well as the content in all the other tracks). Save $200 on the walkup price if you make this purchase before the end of the day on Friday, January 13. Finally, watch this two-minute video before you buy to fully understand the new and improved badge entry system for March 2017.

Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.