Believe it or not, SXSW isn’t all taco trucks and BBQ. It’s essentially a getaway to inspirationville, population a TON of marketers, artists and other creative types who don’t only wear black (besides myself – I’ll wear any color as long as it’s black).
Roll your eyes and call me corny all you want, but hear me out. When you remove people from their everyday jobs and cities, give them the weekend and not-so-strict agendas that allow them the flexibility to explore different meet-ups, speeches, panels, brand executions, sponsored houses (and anything else that may serendipitously be stumbled into or upon) and throw in the inevitable music performances … you’ve got a complex, albeit excellent, formula for innovation kismet.
With all this opportunity and “who knows” attitude running amok, here are a few things I’m hoping to see in Austin this year:
ON-DEMAND EXPERIENCES. AND TACOS!
How many times are you craving that one Instagramable dish from SouthBites and the line is out of control? For me, that one dish is tacos and I’d so much rather get my tacos on demand. Just like those Mophie-delivering St. Bernard puppies, have a brand sponsor the delivery and I’ll give away all my money. So Favor (Austin’s version of uberEATS, Seamless, etc.), if you’re paying attention, the key to winning my heart is through lots and lots of tacos.
GIVE ME THE MOPHIE DOGS. ALL OF THEM.
Speaking of that cuteness, if those St. Bernard puppies are back, I want a headline article on the front page of The Austin Chronicle that showcases how myself and a few other marketers made off with those puppies and brought them home. Think I’m kidding? Try me.
GRUMPY CAT GOES WILD
Everyone’s favorite feline draws epic waits every year for those looking to get a selfie with him. I want to hear how that frisky fella went rogue and was spotted at whatever panel GE’s Linda Boff spoke at.
Way back when (a few years ago), SXSW was the place where the latest new hot tech was introduced. Think FourSquare and Twitter. However, we’ve missed the boat on the NBFDs (Next Big F***ing Deal) for a while now. I want a hybrid Snap and Instagram AR app that not only makes whatever I’m doing look better, but provides the background story, adds a puppy filter and sends it to my grade-school ex-boyfriend to make him jealous(er). Hi, Jon!
Forget the rumors of Zuck running for President one day. I want SXSW to be the infamous place where some other tech or media guru – Evan Spiegel, Jack Dorsey, Mark Cuban – makes the announcement they’re running for office. It’s inevitable.
Every year, I host a “ladies in tech & media dinner" at Uchi (you in?), but I’m sick of hailing a cab or ride share. I want a self-driving situation that’s going to get me to the sessions I need. Maybe even does a little hovering when people take way too long to cross the street near the convention center.
In all seriousness, one last thing I’m hoping to see is greater discourse on civility.
While most SXSW sessions are picked in advance via Panel Picker, I am optimistic that a few last-minute additions will be added addressing the desired and rapidly growing discourse around the future of the United States – who we are, what we stand for, how we (the proverbial humanity “we” and brand “we”) can make a difference in the everyday, etc.).
It’s not about being liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. I think we are all craving conversations targeted at engaging those who are confused or frustrated and – as both citizens and marketers – want to find ways to move our country forward in positive ways.
Whitney Fishman Zember is managing partner of innovation & consumer technology at MEC. She tweets @whitneyfishman