BRAND & MARKETING: BE AUTHENTIC Every year many brands invade Austin trying to borrow a piece of the tech. Gatorade are using Aus...


Every year many brands invade Austin trying to borrow a piece of the tech.
Gatorade are using Austin to show they are far more than a sports drinks company.
Their approach uses the integration of technology in a purposeful manner with technology they have developed to help sports teams be their best.
From a jump-plate to see not just how high you can jump but also it analyses your landing to highlight injuries. VR is used to show manual dexterity and speed of response to various situations and body tracking helps predict injury and highlights different methods of exercise.
Overall it is highly impressive and you can see how it is hugely additive to the sports teams that they work with and is a perfect brand fit however like many projects that are demo'd at SXSW they appear to have missed a trick in that they didn't directly connect the brand to the purpose of the work i.e. they don't show how Gatorade can help fix the problems or help the opportunities they are highlighting. Arguably as per the point from Day 1 - the commodity the brands are seeking is attention and maybe this is the best method to achieve it, they just need to complete circle.

After VR and AR the next most popular subjects in tech appears to be the use of messaging bots. Messaging is on the rise hugely with over 2.6bn people having a messaging app installed and bots are natural extension of this.
It was for this reason that I broke one of my SXSW rules to attend a panel which featured Alison Swope from FB Messenger, Lauren Kunze from Pandorabots and Andrew Poon from Yahoo
Kunze's Pandorabots created the Mitsubishi chat bot Mitsuku which is widely thought to be one of the best in world for chat, indeed there is plenty of film footage on You Tube showing people interacting with it for hours it seems to have set the bar for all other bots.
Some principles that were discussed included the use of humour as a way to connect  e.g. Christian Gray chatbot and ensuring that the bot doesn't keep giving error messages and a loop of "don't understand" however the biggest discussion point was the use of bots to remove "friction" in dealings with customers whilst saving millions of pounds. 
One of the key benefits of bots is the opportunity to not only engage via chat but also engage ongoing with targeted info and perhaps more importantly the chance for to use messaging for hand offs e.g. I need to send flowers this does however demand links to email or other accounts, it seems the future is account linking and if this can be cracked then bots have the opportunity to be at the centre of all communications. 
So what about the future? Poon reckons it only a matter of time before a company is set up that communicates only via messaging - this would be a substitute for websites, call centres and even physical spaces.
So the future looks bright - with 250 bot platforms now available for developers and a huge demand from consumers companies just need to overcome one of the biggest barriers that is interestingly the same that social faced 5 years ago - persuading the CEO and CFO!

One of the principles of SXSW that everyone is a potential connection and everyone has a story so lose all inhibitions and talk to everyone. With this in mind we attended an independent agency drink organized by The Network One and hosted by an agency based in Austin called McGarrah Jessie. After various conversations with different agency folk I met the owners of the host agency and we happened to share a new Client (who by coincidence  I am seeing on Tues) - connections made and future ongoing working relationships made over Texan cocktails. The lesson is a simple one - never stop looking to meet new people and always be curious - it should be the SXSW strap line ! 

"Learn the rules and break them beautifully" is one of the laws of Gravity featured on the walls of the agency. It is a principle that is well and truly lived by today's wild card Casey Neistat. 
He jumped on stage straight off his skateboard in his Nike trousers and spoke eloquently for an hour around his concept of 
The Tarzan method. This is the idea that there is never a clear trajectory from a to b but rather that you use use vines that takes you forward but somewhere you might not imagine being , in essence grab whatever is in front of you.
He spoke of his progression from filmmaking to a TV series on HBO to DVD's to embracing You Tube and how his Bike lane movie which he said he made as an act of complete stupidity ended up reaching Michael Bloomberg the then Mayor of New York and the New York Times.
The next vine took him to work with brands and become what he called reluctantly an "influencer". He talked of his work with Nike where Alex Lopez asked him to create 5 videos, he ran out of ideas by video 3 so decided to turn up at the airport an take the next flight and then do the same til he had completed a trip round the World - the result "Make it count" was arguably the most successful brand film ever , it currently has 25m views with over 10k comments.
As always with SXSW talks like this there is a fair amount of post rationalization however the principle that Casey follows is a very relevant one and that is about the principle of making stuff, he talked of starting with rusty lump of steel and creating a shiny excalibur sword. It is the way this is done that is key here, in the Make It Count film he uses the words of Martyn Monro
"If I had followed all the rules I would never had gotten anywhere" In short, having no idea is not an ignorance it is a strategy.
So what was the learning? That entrepreneurs should think about building their businesses in the Tarzan method - push stuff out and if liked do more if not then stop. Just watch the Do what you can't video it says it all.

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