“Keep Austin Weird”
If you’ve ever been to the capitol of the Lone Star State, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Initiated to promote local small businesses, the slogan has come to reflect a friendly and accepting culture of artistic and individual expression. Whether you’re walking Congress Street during the day or the Mardi Gras-esque Sixth Street at night, you’re sure to be met with an atmosphere of unparalleled vibrancy and creativity!
Nothing symbolizes this idea though, in terms of size and scope, quite like South By Southwest (SXSW). Since its inception in 1987, the SXSW Music and Conference Festival has evolved from a small, community-focused music festival to an all-encompassing phenomenon incorporating music, film, and technology. It’s grown from 700 registrants in its first year to an-expected 20,000-plus registrants at this year’s event, which kicked off yesterday.
SXSW has served as the launching pad for a bevy of social media platforms we use today (Twitter or Foursquare anyone?). While our largest lifestyle brands – HGTV and Food Network – don’t lack in name recognition, a trip to Austin in mid-March was never high on these brands’ lists. But as SXSW has become more mainstream – CNN’s morning show Starting Point broadcasted live from Austin this morning – all hands are on deck for our powerhouse media brands and our digital media team to get in front of the masses at this event.
The centerpiece of HGTV’s presence at SXSW will be The Studio by HGTV, a former bar that will be transformed by design rock stars, Bob and Cortney Novogratz, of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz. The Studio by HGTV will host our Garden Party this Sunday evening, in celebration of the launch of HGTV’s new gardening blog, HGTVGardens.com. And throughout next week’s SXSW Music Festival, The Studio by HGTV will host an electrifying lineup of live bands and network talent. In addition, HGTV will also be co-sponsoring Flatstock 33, a free poster art expo.
The integration of social media and television has been abuzz this year with the record social activity triggered from the Super Bowl and the Oscars. Food Network and Cooking Channel executives Susie Fogelson (SVP of Marketing, Creative and Brand Strategy) and Robert Madden (SVP of Online Brands) will be on separate event panels discussing whether social media is driving television ratings and how some of today’s most successful food truck chefs and entrepreneurs are incorporating social media into their communication strategy.
Austinites love their food…and they’re sure to love what Cooking Channel will be “brewing” in the kitchen. The food brand is teaming up with Austin’s Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden to bring foodies and SXSWi attendees the “Cooking Channel Beer Garden at Easy Tiger,” pairing Easy Tiger’s 30-plus local and boutique draft beers with a delicious, custom menu created by Cooking Channel Kitchens and the Easy Tiger culinary team. Digital media executives and journalists, food and beverage tastemakers and influencers, consumers and Nadia G from Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen are expected to be at this weekend’s event!
While there will be no shortage of A-list celebs present for the music and film part of SXSW (Jay-Z, Lionel Richie and Austin-native Matthew McConaughey to name a few), event organizers are expected a record number of job seekers looking to break into the “interactive world.” Catering to this demand, SXSWi is hosting the Tech Career Expo @SXSW, a two-day event that will match talented professionals with more than 70 participating companies. We’ll be there, so make sure to stop by our booth and learn why we’re one of the Top 10 Places to Work in Cable!
SXSW 2012 promises to be bigger and better than ever. For all of us at SNI, we’re excited for our chance to “be weird” in Austin!