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SXSW goes to London

April 14, 2014 at 10:07 by Tim Comments

Well, not literally. But spirit and insights from last month’s Uber-conference SXSW in Austin keep on travelling across the globe. Creative Social (which I am a member of as well) recently hosted a stellar line up event in London. They called it ‘Mini Austin‘ and if you couldn’t make it to either, please read on. You’ll dominate the next ‘blue-sky meeting’ with some killer-lines like ‘immersive co-creation’ and ‘long form content play’.

Charlotte Mary Rose sent us this wrap up from London:

Creative Social presents #MINIAUSTIN: Bringing coded tales, marketing buzzwords and tech crunching insights back to London from SXSW for all who either did not manage to smuggle a ticket into their suitcase and make the trip to Texas as well as for those who did, but are still de-coding after a whirl-wind information overload.

Speaking of information, I have learnt that it’s the ‘new’ currency, knowledge is power and governments across the globe want to reclaim it. I also discovered the slither of green-envy happening in the content publishing world, whereby digital publishers are now launching print titles to bolster their online offering. Print has once again become a valuable, cherished and collectable medium… Yet existing print publishers are taking progressive steps towards becoming digital-first content publishers.

So, what else went down at #MiniAustin? The ‘internet of things’ is no longer in fact ‘a thing’, it just ‘is’. (This should be a simple concept but somehow I sit and ponder…) Also watch this ad-space for robots to invade your TVs, TABLETs and MOBILE screens… ‘Space was so last year’, that along with ‘wearable technology’ – ‘Immersive design’ is what matters to inventors now. We’ve created the tech but how can it become useful to human beings, how can it blend in tune with other tech to become something that we, the human race, adopt and consume with our hearts as well as our heads?

THE speaker line up was super-impressive and an engaged audience gathered together in BL_ANK to listen to Louise Shannon, Curator of Digital Design at the V&A, start off the evening with some of the world’s leading thinkers who were each asked to nominate an object of contemporary digital design that they would save for the future. Their choice could be either an app, a hack, a website, a virus or an installation – whatever they felt represented today’s digital design culture, they had to back up their nomination with a justification about the impact it had on the wider digital design society and what each tells us about contemporary digital life in 2014…

Highlights for me included the ‘29 stages of a twitter-storm’ via Oliva Solon of Wired. We can use our umbrellas to ward off rain but there’s no protection from a storm of angry tweets. Olivia loved the fact that BuzzFeed documented (quite humorously) how twitter and it’s social powers of fast communication can literally bring companies down to their knees at a mighty pace. She also finds it interesting how traditional media is having to resort to documenting social media incidents in headlines. Louise questioned whether twitter has replaced the public square and felt sorry for all our elder generations who surely sit at home in front of the box and wonder what that strange ‘#hashtag’ symbol in the bottom right-hand corner of their screens is all about? More to the point, do they even want to find out?

Adrian Hon, of Six to Start presented the BroApp. (Girls, it’s made for boys-only!) It’s an emotional prosthetic app that assists the socially awkward or (socially lazy) to have better relationships with better communications via… Wait for it: Scheduled TEXT Messages! A true and shameful story. So girls, if you regularly receive an 11.47am – “Have a nice day, you’re so special to me…” text message from your coder-boyfriend, please do check which apps are secretly stored on his phone. And you should probably clarify this detail before you begin to rely on and trust in an actual robot without even realising it!


The subject of binge-viewing via Netflix was examined. Matt Rice wonders if it will replace traditional TV? It’s certainly changed the way that I consume media, the scary feat of consuming media online though is that Netflix collects your viewing data, from when you watch to when you press pause to iron your socks… (Don’t worry, Netflix doesn’t actually know that you iron your socks – Or do they?) Louise pointed out that this data is being used to place audiences into certain group types and even launching new projects off the back of this potential audience information, which is all fine right? We all want more of what we love. Stop for a moment though, will this new behaviour mean that we miss the nuisances of finding new gems by accident? Probably. Oh well, onto NEST, Louise questioned whether objects like this were invented for the sole purpose of delivering a big fat pay check. Again, probably.


Next up Cyrus Vantoch-Wood, Creative Director at Cheil Worldwide spoke about creative collaborations and the ownership of ideas. He highlighted the fact that: Ideas – Actions = SH*T. I must agree with this. Cyrus made a fair point that when it comes to mastering global ad campaigns, effectively and strategically, collaborating with other genius minds can offer diversity of thought, objectivity and new perspectives into the mix, which can only elevate the strength and cause of a good campaign. Gone are the days where people take full ownership and glory of an idea, Mozart had a whole orchestra in mind when crafting his beloved classical symphonies, but at the end of the day, he only had one score and I’m pretty sure he didn’t have to develop a code for Symphony No.39 in E flat major for a responsive app in over 50 languages either come to think of it. Cyrus used the ‘Still DRE remix’ to show how ‘awesome’ collaborations are because, by their very nature, they are progressive, natural and continuous flows of ideas and influences, which can maintain cultural relevance. In the age of ‘tailoring’ ideas, messages and campaigns across multiple channels, many hands and minds can and probably should share the stress and the responsibility. He showed us ‘Life in a Day’ a user-generated content feature film produced by Ridley Scott in collaboration with YouTube. ‘Interesting’ would be my first comment, ‘heart-warming’ would be my second. What do you think?

Moving on, Cyrus praised AGILE as the ultimate responsive process to working collaboratively. A process of evolving ideas together with focused structure and syncing minds to produce the best quality content possible. Cheil used the AGILE process when developing this SAMSUNG campaign, “Launching People.” The simple motive behind this campaign is to make Samsung more emotive. Having earned their consumers’ respect they now seek the ‘love’ that brands like Apple clearly enjoy. The campaign encourages new blood with passion to submit entries about their great ideas and in return, Samsung will sponsor them to achieve their dreams with mentoring from celebrity talent like Paloma Faith who is “looking for something innovative which defies genre”

The next matter to be considered was publishing. As traditional magazines are transitioning into digital-first publishers, the likes of Net-a-Porter, Pitchfork and Protein have all gone and launched print titles to bolster their online offerings. The battle for readers’ time, attention and money intensifies, so Tim Noakes, Editor-in-Chief of Dazed&Confused, (now just ‘Dazed’) shared his view of the role that printed magazines and digital long-form features play in today’s editorial and commercial landscape.

Tim presented a fascinating case study for why Dazed has become a digital-first publisher and has subsequently reduced it’s issues of print magazines from 12 annually to just 6 in line with the fashion seasons. He believes that the mode in which popular culture is now consumed better suits Dazed’s new editorial approach. In March alone Dazed attracted 1.5 million unique visits and 7 million page views. The editorial team are publishing 18 – 20 articles a day and one long-read article per week with ‘big stars’. This new approach better suits the switched on and hungry Dazed readers who seek and expect a daily dose of anarchic culture. Tim believes that print is still something to be collected and cherished and stated that production value has increased significantly. He therefore praises the decision of those other publishers who have branched out into print as a tangible medium in which to manifest their communications… After all, people still have bookshelves to fill.


Next, Stephen Lepitak, News Editor of The Drum re-visited Austin with Daniele, Head of Innovation at Cheil London, and Martin Harris, Planning Director at HUGE. Collectively, they discussed how wearable technology will become invisible, how robots will be the next ‘trend’ in brand marketing and most concerning of all, how our current internet laws have been based on the movie ‘War Games’. Would you actually believe it? Our current legislation is 28 years out of date.


In fact, SXSW made all three of them concerned about how much we all do daily, digitally, within giant DataBases… Blindly, meanwhile the creator’s of innovative products continue to design asking only for forgiveness not permission. Daniele insisted that, as marketers, we must better-learn to tell stories with our collected data, for if we cannot quantify and therefore justify data with a meaningful and relevant narrative, data just becomes additional noise and I think it’s fair to say that, no-one really needs that!

And finally, concluding the evening Nadya Powell, Managing Director of MRY UK highlighted the problem in our Communications Industry where young people are neither getting the respect nor the support they deserve. Nadya spoke about her new initiative, launched with Jon Buckhart and Partners which centres around Millennial Mentoring. The ‘millennials’ (who are the students shaping the future) provide intuitive and relevant mentoring to brands and agencies on how to talk to this digitally native generation. The initiative took some Hackney students to SXSW this year and actually asked them to answer briefs with raw insight which is oh-so-valuable to brand behaviour and activity. What became evident is that whilst brands considered the ‘millennials’ to have short attention spans, they are in fact savvy multi-taskers. And I’m sure you’ll agree that this nature of ‘being’ is essential these days in the ‘digital age’ work place and social sphere.

Follow author Charlotte Mary Rose @CharleyMaryRose
Creative Social, a collective of the worlds most pioneering creative directors, are currently looking for people to join the social team. If you’re interested in getting involved as a contributor or a partner, drop James Kirk and the team a line -

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