Although we arrived on Saturday evening, yesterday was the first proper day of activity. Hitting it hard, we rolled out the red carpet and jumped on the city bus to take us into downtown Austin for an 8:30 am start.
Rock & Roll.
One of the most striking aspects of SXSW is the sheer scale of the operation. Something in the region of 400 events per day, spread across an area of about three miles in 30 or so venues – it is one epic logistical operation for all those involved and no matter how well you plan the day, some unforeseen event or random intervention will mean changing plans at a moment’s notice. Flexibility and trainers are the two most important attributes required to make it through a day in Austin for SXSW.
I managed to cram in eight talks yesterday, everything from ‘Designing News Brands for Millennials,’ ‘The Future of Packaging’ (awesome) and the ‘Death of Loyalty’ delivered by the CCO of Wunderman LA.
The standout event for me was delivered by SapientNitro in the graveyard 17:00-18:00 slot. Simon James’ ‘Humans Are Predictable, Exploit It’ was an irreverent look at data analysis and insists. He touched on why segmentation was a waste of time, personas are useless, most customers are unprofitable and how we can learn most business principles from drug dealers and adulterers. It was a mix of freakonomics and Ricky Gervais and whilst I didn’t agree with all of it, it was a well prepared and brilliantly delivered talk. The boy done good and certainly set the standard for the next two days.
Today we have another random selection of events but I think five or so will be a realistic target. I discovered last night that the team from Pixar – Ed Cartmell and Pete Doctor – is talking about “20 years since Toy Story” and “the future of innovation and company culture.” Words can’t describe how much I’m looking forward to that – and how gutted I am about not bringing my Creativity Inc book for them to sign!
No cowboy boots or Stetsons purchased yet but I’m-a working on it…
To watch Strategy Director Marcus Reynolds and Creative Director Caspian Rabone bantar back and forth about whats missing at this years SXSW – check them out on Wunderman Reports. Not only is it informative but its humorous besides!