HBO builds Westworld town at SXSW to promote season 2

HBO has set up a recreation of the Westworld fictional town of Sweet Water at SXSW in order to promote the second series of the hit science fiction drama.

With the return of the series set for the end of April, HBO enlisted Giant Spoon having seen the work the agency produced to produce the Blade Runner sequel last year at Comic Con. Work on the project began last yea, The Drum understands.

Co-founder of Giant Spoon, Trevor Guthrie told The Drum, while giving a tour of the town, that the initial idea came after using drone pictures of a local ghost town outside of Austin as part of the research process.

As a result, the agency had built a free-to-explore western town. To bring it to life, it has written 440 pages of script featuring 60 characters, played by actors who will be performing until after the weekend of the annual festival.

The town is centred several miles outside of Austin with attendees being able to explore Sweet Water after winning tickets online.

Experiential elements, which borrows from popular Western tales, include an authentic Western bar, characters who interact with visitors, a post office which allows attendees to become part of the overall story and even beans being served over the counter too, a reference to Blazing Saddles.

Guthrie also revealed that the town story included several Easter eggs - hints which would point towards the set up for the next series.

“I love that there is no direction so when you walk in, you have to figure it all out. No one tells you to figure it out - but you can by exploring and talking to characters and if you listen to hear the story you can also find outs what is going on the town,” said Guthrie, who also revealed that the agency also worked closely with the series creators in its inception.

Limited space to attend the location is available during the festival with tickets available to be won on the Westworld homepage.

Further campaign activity will happen around Austin with ‘in-world’ adverts placed around the city’s transport, thousands of black and white cowboys hats being given to guests and social promotion being run through the show’s Twitter account - all handled by the same agency.

Meanwhile, Giant Spoon has also built another experimental element in Austin to promote Steven Spielberg’s latest movie.

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