The 50 best panels to vote for in the SXSW 2017 Panel Picker

We’ve picked the best panels submitted for next year’s South by Southwest conference.

It’s this time of the year again, when you can’t get anywhere online (Twitter, Facebook, newsletters …) without getting harassed by your favourite companies to vote for them in #PanelPicker.

What is #PanelPicker?

The 2017 SXSW PanelPicker allows you to browse, vote, and comment on the more than 4,000 speaking proposals entered by top creative minds from across the United States and around the world. Voting remains open through the end of the day on Friday, September 2. Proposals that make it through this very competitive process and gain a speaking slot for next spring will be announced on Monday, October 17.

The quality of speakers at SXSW is unmatched. You won’t be able to find so many experts in their fields sharing their experience and going through best-in-class case studies. And the democratic process of the festival helps unheard voices rise to the top.

However, even though the depth of subjects submitted makes it certain to find hundreds of topics of interest, it also makes it impossible to browse them all before casting your vote.

Don’t worry about that, we got you covered. We went through all the submissions and narrowed them down to a list of 50+ panels in various subjects (influencer marketing, sports, esports & gaming, branded content, chatbots & messaging app, music marketing, film marketing, virtual reality, future of food, advertisng business, media consumption, social media marketing, brands partnerships, health, LBGT & gender issues …) and coming from all type of companies (ad agencies, tech companies, brands, publishers …).

01. Influencers: Why brands still don’t get it

  • How can brands engage with influencers in a more creative and innovative way to drive brand objectives?
  • What are the opportunities to take influencers from one channel to driving brand growth?
  • How should ROI be evaluated when working with influencers?


02. The Business of Influence with The Rock

  • In an age of transparency, how do you practice discretion on social media?
  • What does it really mean to be an influencer in Hollywood?
  • With more and more celebrities creating and building brands, how do you choose what’s best for your audience?

Seven Bucks Productions

03. eSports: Don’t Get PWNed, Get Serious

  • How did eSports develop and how big is it?
  • What is the growth potential?
  • Who will be the biggest winners and losers?


04. Branded Content: Advertising Model of the Future?

  • How do media companies adjust their revenue streams in an increasingly complex advertising world?
  • How do media companies evaluate the extent of their audience on 3rd party platforms like Facebook and Snapchat?
  • Will Branded Content be the advertising model of the future?

Time Inc

05. There’s More to New York than Fashion & Bagels: Meet Tech: NYC

  • Why was Tech: NYC formed?
  • How will organizations like Tech:NYC impact the NY tech scene and the broader tech scene at large?
  • Today, how does NYC’s tech scene differ from the Valley and other tech hotbeds?


06. Game On: How to Engage Gaming Influencers

  • How are gaming influencers different than mainstream YouTube celebrities and what are the best ways to engage them?
  • What are some successful case studies of brand integrations with gaming influencers?
  • What are pitfalls to avoid when reaching out to gaming influencers?

Rooster Teeth
Ad Council

07. Conversational Chatbots: Your Brand’s Duty!

  • How do you build a bot for a character and a brand?
  • What’s the most surprising things that people asked Call of Duty when they could finally talk to it for the first time?
  • What’s the nastiest thing someone texted at Lt. Reyes?


08. iMessage: The Next Marketing Gold Mine

  • What is the future of social marketing and mobile messaging?
  • What value does the iMessage store have for consumers and brands?
  • What trends are brands documenting in terms of consumer demand (i.e. more connectivity, instant response, personalization, customization)?


09. Music as Client

  • What value do music videos provide in 2017? What are the unique opportunities, and creative challenges?
  • What are the possibilities and pitfalls of branded content when it comes to music and digital culture?
  • What role does music play in increasingly immersive digital experiences? e.g. VR, interactive film, etc


10. It’s About Time: The State of the Smartwatches

  • What have been some of the successes of smartwatches so far?
  • What has the potential to be “the killer feature” of a smartwatch?
  • Is the smartwatch the closest thing we have to telepathy?

Android Wear

11. VR virgins

  • What were the challenges for the artists in their 1st interaction with VR? Were more related to the use of the technology or to the artistic concept?
  • As a digital artist, what need to be set aside or modified in the creativity process due to the embarking VR in you project?
  • What were the contributions brought by VR to your artistic process and results?

Universidade de São Paulo
Select Magazine
Isobar Brazil

12. Can Agencies and Influencers Just Get Along?

  • What is the role for the brand marketer and creative agency in working with influencers?
  • How can brands effectively scale social influence on both a programmatic and campaign basis?
  • How do we move beyond one-off product placement to true creative collaboration with creator talent?

Royal Caribbean International

13. Downloading Dinner: Crafting the Future of Food

  • How is technology changing what we eat and how we eat it?
  • What do the future of food and food experiences look like?
  • How can I embrace digital and innovation in my own relationships with food?

Publicis New York
Dylan’s Candy Bar
Jacoby’s Beef & Mercantile

14. The Pocket Concierge (and how to build your own)

  • What do marketers need from their social, tech, customer service, and CRM teams to launch a bot?
  • What technological, operational, and brand elements can take your bot from good to great?
  • How can brands target prospects with guest data to generate and nurture better leads — from search to Facebook to site, and in between?

R/GA Austin
Royal Caribbean

15. Reinventing the agency pitch: close more, work less

  • How can I increase my pitch rate and wins without blowing through all my time & resources?
  • Can technology make each pitch feel fresh and unique?
  • What are specific strategies I can use to make my pitches more effective?

WP Engine

16. THE NEW MAN CODE: Targeting Modern Male Consumers

  • It’s not just about “marketing to shopper mom.” Have men become the new alpha consumer for themselves and their families and households?
  • How have men changed and evolved and what are their new attitudes and behaviors towards brands, causes and their IRL friends?
  • Do you just need humor, babes and booze to reach the male consumer today or have his attitudes changed and how is he influencing others?

Movember Foundation 
Pernod-Ricard USA

17. Sit Down, Shut Up and Listen: The Economics of Att

  • Between email newsletters, apps and now Facebook’s native article and video features, where and how are people actually consuming their content?
  • What does it take to make an audience actually stay on your site when Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are a click away, and they have everything?
  • Do I really have to start making content exclusively for Snapchat now?

The Ringer
Epic Rap Battles of History

18. Maximising the Creative Potential for Innovation

  • How can brand, start-ups, and agencies collaborate to create innovation?
  • How can creativity be extended to create new values?
  • How can you monetize innovation?

Dentsu Ventures

19. Trust Me, I’m ‘Influential’

  • How do I determine an individual’s “influence” and what it’s worth for my business?
  • Outside of social media following, how do I assess people of impact for brand partnerships?
  • How do I build relationships with people of impact without paying them?

RQ Media Group

20. Personalization Requires Brands to Not Personalize

  • How do I leverage impression and user data in real-time to serve personalized ads?
  • What types of partners does a brand need to bring to the table to successfully execute a personalized campaign?
  • What are the pros and cons of giving up control around pre-defining your audience sets?

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

21. How MEC Wavemaker Broke A Band In 10 Weeks

  • How does a media agency approach breaking a band, what was the process from insight, strategy, creative, planning and execution?
  • What kind of partners did MEC Wavemaker work with to execute this plan and what kind of content did they create?
  • How did they do? Did MEC Wavemaker achieve their aim of breaking a band in just 10 weeks?

MEC Wavemaker

22. Is your next CMO a journalist?

  • How are marketing strategies evolving to reflect consumers’ requirement that brands demonstrate authenticity and purpose?
  • How are the tenets of journalism — transparency, editorial integrity, unique content, publishing narrative — impacting brand and marketing behaviors?
  • Why are social networks and technological innovation in AR/VR/AI acting as catalysts for the blurring between marketing and journalism?

Jaguar Land Rover

23. Brand Experience Design: Designing For Success

  • What does a brand need to think about when creating a holistic client experience that solves a brand promise?
  • What are the major challenges that other brands have faced when building their consumer experiences?
  • How do brands partner with and leverage startups and technology partners to enhance their consumer experiences?

Hudson Rouge

24. Payments Gone Viral: The Rise of Social Commerce

  • Has social media been proven as a viable channel for financial transactions?
  • What brands are doing this well, and what can I learn from them?
  • What are some things that I didn’t know I could buy/pay for on social media?


25. Brands Killin The Instagram & Snapchat Game

  • How was your brand able to separate themselves from competitors on Instagram & Snapchat?
  • How can a brand like X compete with original content creators on Snapchat & Instagram? What is your content marketing strategy for Snapchat & Insta?
  • Can you provide some insight into how you first approach the development of a Instagram & Snapchat strategy? How different are they?

Pura Vida Bracelets

26. Digital Talent: Managing The New Superstars

  • What lessons can talent managers take from the music business and apply to the next wave of digital talent on platforms like YouTube and Twitch?
  • What are the similarities and differences between managing talent for musicians versus managing talent for digital content creators?
  • How can digital creators carve out a path for themselves using these new platforms?

HK Management
WORKS Entertainment
xx artists
Girl Love

27. Let It Go: Creative Compromises

  • Why is the art of compromise still a critical skill for anyone with big ideas?
  • What are some different collaborative processes?
  • Tips for how to hone the skill of compromise.

Sound Lounge
Young & Rubicam NY

28. State of VR Advertising- What Works & What Doesn’t

  • Are people more likely to buy from brands that use VR?
  • What are the differences in planning/ideating for a 360 VR vs a traditional video advertising?
  • Where are people watching the most 360 VR video and why?

Impeccable Pictures

29. Change the game & make your own rules or go home

  • Technology can be a marketing equalizer. How can brands differentiate in todays hyper connected landscape? How can a bran remain memorable?
  • How has investing in content creation brought brands closer to the consumer?How has the audience changed? Who’s in control (brand or agency)?
  • Are brands savvy enough with content & accessibility to win back time from the likes of Snapchat, etc.? Do consumers care about value vs frequency?

Taco Truck Creative
Callaway Golf

30. Ask before you need: startups, investing & you

  • What should you look for in an investor for your startup?
  • How do you know when you’ve hit the revenue sweet spot that means it’s time to seek out venture funding?
  • How can you create a mission-critical plan to demonstrate to investors what a cash injection will allow your startup to accomplish?

WP Engine
North Bridge Growth Equity

31. Building Your Brand through Visual Storytelling

  • Do you feel like you are doing too much or too little in visual storytelling?
  • Which mediums or channels are being used to deliver a company’s visual stories?
  • What is the role of video in your visual storytelling?

Lonely Planet
Pernod Ricard

32. Brand Singularity: When Brands Become Culture

  • How will this shift to brand singularity affect the marketing industry?
  • How will agencies adjust to this shift in power?
  • What are the cultural implications of brands becoming the primary drivers of cultural discourse?

AGW Group
Mother New York
The Bosco
Superfly Presents

33. The Future of Luxury

  • What is the future of luxury?
  • What shifts have there been in consumer attitudes and ideologies to the concept of ownership in an experience economy?
  • How is shifting consumer perception influencing product innovation, organisational structure, marketing strategies and brand behaviours?

Jaguar Land Rover

34. Would My Life be Better if I Were Thinner?

  • What does this campaign communicate about the JCPenney brand?
  • How did the creative partnership with JCPenney, mcgarrybowen, and Missing PIeces come about?
  • What do you say to the critics who say you are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle?

Capitol Records
mcgarrybowen New York

35. Stop Thinking About Your Brand!

  • Why do certain businesses follow the social “playbook” instead of doing what’s good for business?
  • What are some ways companies can be successful at business and social media…and who is going it well?
  • Will CRM strategies mature? How?

J. Walter Thompson Atlanta
Mother New York

36. Pitching your creative business to investors

  • How can I communicate the value of my creative start up to investors?
  • How can I use creativity to tell my story to investors?
  • How can I engage with holding companies and what are they looking for regarding M&A?

Dentsu Aegis

37. Brands as publishers; Consumers as editors

  • Why is content not cutting through to the people that matter?
  • What tools are helping create these new producers, who are capable of editing and silencing my brand?


38. Agencies are Doomed as Sports Teams Take the Lead

  • How do you integrate creative team into commercial discussions to ensure success?
  • How do you target partner customers leveraging team CRM and Facebook advertising?
  • How do you balance commercial imperatives with fan engagement and loyalty?

Sports Geek
Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena
New York City FC
Tradable Bits

39. CULT or CULTURE: A Game of Questionable Loyalty

  • What are the pros and cons of organized loyalty under a shared belief?
  • Are there rules for designing activities that effectively build loyal cultures without crossing the line to creepy and cult-like?
  • How can well-designed rituals help a company scale its culture?


40. The Role of Craft in Brand Strategy and Messaging

  • What makes craft “good” and why does it matter when I can find similar services for less money? How can craft improve ROI on brand communications?
  • What role does craft play in brand strategy? How can it improve the reach of communications?
  • How does craft impact a consumer’s experience with a brand? If good craft can positively influence consumers, can poor craft do the opposite?

Taylor James
Leo Burnett

41. Is Black Music Appropriate for White Brands?

  • How do brands and black artists start conversations about how they can create positive partnerships?
  • What is risky about brands partnering with black artists and what risks do black artists take in partnering with brands?
  • When brands and black music work together the right way, what does that look like?

Momentum Worldwide
Atlantic Records

42. The Future Of The Agency

  • Are we returning to a model where creative and media are combined?
  • Do agencies and publishers have the opportunity to tap into non-marketing client budgets?
  • Will publishers like Refinery29 be the agencies of the future?

New York Times

43. The Streaming Games..

  • How do streaming players stand out and build a business that endures in a crowded?
  • Will consumer pressure for easier ways to search for content across services lead to new entrants?
  • Will streaming bundles emerge?


44. Tech Is Making Advertising Raise the Creative Bar

  • What impact will new technology have on the ever-evolving digital advertising landscape?
  • How will advertisers rise to the challenge and opportunity new technology presents?
  • What are current examples of advertisers leading in innovation and creativity in terms of tech and storytelling?

Getty Images
la comunidad

45. Am I Better at My Job Because I’m Gay?!

  • What aspects of being LGBTQ make people better suited for certain jobs or industries?
  • What are the general pros and cons for being the gay guy in the office?
  • What skills are augmented by being an LGBTQ person in the workplace? Does it make you a better boss or employee?

Momentum Worldwide 
Weber Shandwick

46. Transforming Music and Entertainment

  • What do Intel and Lady Gaga have in common?
  • Why does a successful computer chip manufacturer need to do to reinvent itself?
  • Would you tell us how Intel is transforming entertainment, music and sports?


47. The Great Debate: Agencies vs. Consultancies

  • What does the future of digital marketing look like?
  • How will digital marketing services be delivered to brands?
  • What are the weaknesses and strengths of traditional agencies and consultancies?

Deloitte Digital

48. F*ck It, Let’s Be Honest

  • How do advertising, media and culture perpetuate the façade of perfection? What are the potential consequences of this?
  • Why do you think empathy and truth (the good, the bad and the ugly) are so powerful in driving innovation and cultural change?
  • What is the role of brands in pushing positive cultural change?

MullenLowe U.S.
Royal Caribbean International

49. Apps vs. Bots: The Future of Service & Convenience

  • Bots — Where do they come from, why are they important, and are they ready to truly get the job done?
  • Apps — In the era of app overload, how do consumers know which apps are best for their needs, and how must apps evolve to remain relevant?
  • In an app vs. bot world, how do brands from small to large — like Vurb, Button, and Google — build relevant services that consumers will find easy to use?

Andreessen Horowitz

50. The New Hollywood: Making a Brand Funded Film

  • How is brand funded entertainment changing the industry?
  • How can filmmakers and brands best work together to create engaging, authentic and impactful stories that stand out in a crowded marketplace?
  • How can working with a brand help filmmakers overtake some of the industry’s biggest challenges, like profitability and how to lure eyeballs?

Tremolo Productions
Saville Productions
Brand USA

51. The Creator’s Handbook for VR & 360 Storytelling

  • What makes for a story well-told in VR?
  • How can creators effectively use spatialized sound?
  • What are the cutting-edge techniques for defining user existence?

Tool of North America
Oculus Story Studio
Pink Box

52. Naughty & Nice: Strategies for Scaling Culture

  • How do growing organizations maintain what makes them unique in terms of culture, purpose, workplace and people?
  • How do you design physical space to represent your company culture and purpose while also fostering innovation?
  • How have the rules of J.F.D.I (Just F*cking Do It) changed and what’s next for tomorrow’s innovators?


53. The Art of Selling Out

  • What is your definition of selling out? Have you done it?
  • There is making money, and then there is selling out. How do you evaluate which jobs to take?
  • What is the best way to use work-for-hire to drive your personal projects?

Annapurna Pictures
The All-Nighter Room

54. Pitch Perfect:Formula for Winning New Business?

  • Without naming the client, share your Top 3 “pitch gone awry” stories?
  • Without naming the client, share your Top 3 win stories/best practices?
  • Outside of a strong presentation, what are 3 things a pitch team needs to keep in mind when going after a piece of new business?

J. Walter Thompson Atlanta
Kumho Tire