South by Southwest 2020 never had a chance. Scheduled to take place from March 13th to March 22nd of this year, the timing related to the impact of the pandemic was about as bad as it gets. And now, with public health outcomes still unclear, organizers are playing it safe, with the 2021 event set to take the form of a digital experience.
Bringing the SXSW annual event to consumers digitally raises challenges for brands, forcing them to consider a digital event sponsorship. In the past, there were more options too – brands that didn’t officially sponsor SXSW still took advantage of the large crowds assembled around the Austin, TX area. As Adweek points out, brands will need to carefully weigh whether they want to participate in the event, and in what way.
For some brands, the pandemic meant scrapping all their live events and retrofitting them for a digital environment. This strategy allowed those brands to continue to engage with consumers despite lockdown requirements. Luckily for AMEX, the adjustment was less a pivot and more a natural evolution, thanks to the fact that the brand had already established a hybrid event concert series titled “Unstaged.”
In fact, the brand found its groove quickly and successfully executed more than 40 digital events in 6 months. The experiences spanned the globe and were made available to all cardmembers. In a recent Event Marketer article, the brand shared key learnings, including how to leverage existing partnerships and let your audience guide your next steps.
The event industry has been upended since March, but its resilience has been proven time and again. Many brands have adapted their experiences to digital and/or hybrid event models. Others have been able to engage with consumers through digital event sponsorships.
Digital event sponsorships work a lot like traditional, in-person ones. They need to be easily accessible to audiences, provide an opportunity for connection, and leave consumers with a positive brand affiliation. But, as all experiential marketers know, this is easier said than done. Opus Agency’s recent blog post outlines the best approach to ensure success. Check it out here.
Typically, the fall months mean that kids are back in school and the excitement of Halloween so close on the calendar is on everyone’s mind. Halloween means elaborate decorations, ghostly celebrations, and fun haunted houses. Unfortunately, all year 2020 has had something different in mind for all aspects of our collective lives. Large gatherings are still not allowed in most places, and precautions are required for even small events.
While responsibility related to health and safety means taking extra risk assessments, it doesn’t mean that Halloween has to be scrapped. It does mean that we need to tap into a whole new level of creativity. Hulu has risen to the challenge by creating a drive-in in Los Angeles to celebrate its spooky content.