This year's SXSW conference delivered a refocused approach to information, innovation, and
brand experience, reflecting the exponential growth in new technologies as well as the current
political changes affecting all industries.
Now in its 31st year, the interactive portion of the conference focused on news publishing and
experiential storytelling. Despite the industry that people worked in; the ripple effect of the US
election, the quest for truth, and the private sector advancing social issues were key talking
points for most panelists.
The predominant theme was the evolution in artificial intelligence and its offshoot into chatbots,
voice technology, and the future implications of living in a connected, AI assisted world.
As brands adopt a human-first approach, an emphasis on improving the user experience,
especially on making technology less invasive emerged.
Machine based learning has advanced with new computational algorithms to create an
emotional grammar that will allow machines to embrace metaphor, have creative instincts,
consider context, and leverage serendipitous mixing to create art.
o Elimination of human bias if machines are built without traditional human partiality.
eg Todays google search for “beauty” images is very heteronormative.
o Longer-term, elimination of video production by humans.
This Machine Can Replace an Entire Photo Studio CARAT
FUTURE OF DYNAMIC CREATIVE
In a time where brand’s are doing outrageous stunts to get consumer’s attention, sometimes the most powerful messages are the most
subtle. Marketers and agencies have gotten in a bad habit of selective listening, which is keeping us in our bubbles. It’s important to
really listen to consumers and find commonalities that span sub-groups to ensure we are bringing people together, not alienating them.
In a time of rampant conflict and negativity clogging up our newsfeeds, keeping your message free of provocation and tension keeps the
brand approachable and focused on positively achieving your mission.
o Now is the time to critically look at your brand/company mission, do acts of good, and then craft the story around what you’ve done.
o Leverage a crisis by having agility in response. Airbnb took 5 days to create and buy Superbowl ad after their CEOs tweet about
refugees because they had a clear mission.
AirBnb refugee program Super Bowl TV spot CARAT
BRAND ACTIVISM DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PROVOCATIVE
Equality doesn’t have to be provocative.
Amanda, Global Brand Manager, Airbnb
A common theme across technology platforms and products is to promote social good through making technology and
data accessible. Access can come to life in many different ways; at Microsoft they want to make public data
visualization available at an accessible price point, Xperia touch surface wants to democratize music & education by
allowing people to play the piano or drums on a projected screen, and litmus is a data science platform that is focused
on increasing the quality of life by harnessing your body’s data.
How do you go beyond collecting data, to analyzing that information and it’s implications in a way that improves
society, or the consumer experience.
"Special Forces Innovation" Leveraging Data to solve social problems
Xperia Touch Surface UI
Litmus Health CARAT
CREATE SYSTEMIC CHANGE THROUGH ACCESSIBILITY
Future of social responsibility
= Shared interests + goals to advance in society.
Cory Richards, National Geographic Photographer
In the accelerator start-up showcase on health and wearables, many finalists were focused
on improving female health by harnessing data in a new and different way. From
advancements in detecting early stage breast cancer to providing consistent and accessible
pre-natal care through wearables; start-ups are focused on improving women’s lives.
With better early detection and preventative care, there will be implications on insurance
coverage and how hospitals integrate this data into their diagnoses and treatment.
HEALTHCARE: THE FUTURE IS FEMALE
When you no longer have to focus on driving, secondary roles for cars open
up. In the future, cars will be thought of as routers on wheels, which will
reposition them into telecommunications and other verticals.
o Voice AI in cars for commands and entertainment options.
o Need for new data storage platforms.
o Need to understand what people will be doing in cars if they aren’t driving.
Are you scared your future car will be hacked?
Voice AI in Autonomous Vehicles
FROM DRIVING TO BEING
The most intimate moments are the ones when we are fully present. In a world where we are
living behind screens, we lose a sense of intimacy with each other and the world around us. While
brands are optimizing events today to be hyper-sharable, in the future, they’ll need to also design
for intimacy. Brands that enable intimacy will result in a relationship with their consumers, while
brands that focus on exhibitionism will only have fleeting shock value.
o Redesign brand experience, need to create both intimate moments, as well as sharable ones.
o Ensure we don’t mistake exhibitionism as intimacy.
Marc Jacobs Fall 2017 Fashion Show
Prince’s no Phone Rules CARAT
INTIMATE IS THE NEW AUTHENTIC
Laughter has been proven to release endorphins and lower stress levels. Given how intense news
coverage has been lately, there is a surge of “fun” tech and content focused on escapism. At “the
wow factory”, this came to life with cute and chatty beer bots, the @fuckjerry panel was packed
with marketers who wanted to learn about memes, and the Outdoor Voices founder has created
a booming business from having a youthful tone, with unbridled enthusiasm.
Consider taking a lighter approach, encouraging consumers to take a
minute to forget about their worries and have a little fun.
ESCAPISM IN THE AGE OF TRUMP
While there was a lot of amazing new VR technology showcased at SXSW, we noticed a trend of new tech trying
to remove the smartphone to create a less invasive experience. This came to life through sound, children’s toys,
and the prevalence of snap glasses among attendees. In addition, Google and Levis revealed the secrets behind
their jacquard smart jacket, a joint innovation project to weave tech directly into textile fibers.
o There is a tension between wanting to be connected and live in the moment.
o How can brands leverage technology in a way that is less invasive?
JACQUARD Xperia Ear “open-style” concept
DuoSkin Jooki Novel Effects
Successful fashion brands are hyper-focused on expanding share of mind of a lifestyle. For example,
Outdoor Voice’s strategy is to move from athletics into recreation. Marc Jacob’s talked about the secret
to his successful career in fashion, that he makes the brand about the people wearing the clothes, not
the clothes themselves.
o Consider the people you want to embody your brand and have them help tell your story.
o Understand what lifestyle your brand plays in today and where you should be playing in the future.
Cast of Cool Kids Sums up New York Fashion Week
THE FUTURE OF FASHION
The future of fashion is not the Jetsons.
The next arms race is for data and a silver medal today is better than a gold medal tomorrow. As A.I. and robotics
improve, we move closer and closer to a world where machines are replacing soldiers on the battlefield. There will be
little need for real people to lose their lives in times of war, instead humans will act like a quarterback, calling the play
and directing the action. However what happens when the cost of war is only a burned out machine? With the moral
deterrent removed, do we end up in a world constantly at war, where aggression is a legitimate negotiation tactic? We
need to remind ourselves that just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should.
o You need to look at the distant future when assessing the merits of current innovation. What are the long term
impacts? - environmental, social, moral, etc.
o Is the improvement of VR technology a good thing for society? Does it fit with your company’s mission?
The Future of Warfare and The U.S. Military
THE FUTURE OF WARFARE: THE IMPLICATIONS OF NOW
Had I known that the Germans would not succeed in producing an
atomic bomb, I would have never lifted a finger.
The world is awash with legacy models that may no longer make sense. Digital media is
no different, with the 300x250 being the most prevalent digital ad unit bought today.
The industry has adapted and evolved, but all too often these are temporary solutions to
legacy problems. What happens if we wipe the slate clean, compartmentalize the
components of storytelling and reimagine the things that hit human cues and modern
media behavior? We need to ditch the template and design for attention, not just scale.
Question if scale is getting in the way of creating compelling human experiences.
This is The Age of Experience
STARTING OVER: REDESIGN WITHOUT LEGACY
It is not for everyone, it is for you.
There was a lot of chatter about rebuilding trust in journalism and media, and the belief that “truth doesn’t go viral”.
News media is investing in tech and people resources to rebuild products that showcase transparency. The Huffington
Post is creating a new product called “the flip side”, which shows and surfaces all conversations on the political
spectrum with a goal of showing a diversity of viewpoints. Crooked Media has been founded with the intention to
bring real and unpolished voices into the political and social world and take spin out of the conversation.
Brands will need to take a page from journalism and try to represent all viewpoints in their communications.
TECH ENABLING A BROADER POINT OF VIEW IN JOURNALISM
We couldn’t find a place to talk about politics the way
actual human beings talk. So we decided to create one.
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