Cutting Through the Internet Noise to Reach an Audience
Mainstream corporations are having a hard time reaching their target audience these days at SXSW and are looking for help. Corporate sponsors want to use “hip” new tech to speak to its customers but they don’t know how and it’s starting to show on their bottom line. So are the big boys getting the job done, and if not why and how much is it costing them?
To get an idea let’s look closely at McDonalds as it can’t get much bigger than that. The company offers free Wi-Fi to all attendees and additionaly invites them all to the 4th floor to visit their private lounge. Teams of McDonalds employees are also walking the floor providing coffee to anyone that want’s it. Seems like they have their bases covered, and they certainly spent their marketing budget in full. So did it work?
A fast survey was done and many attendees couldn’t remember seeing any evidence that McDonalds was there. One response was, “They’re a sponsor?”. Several attendees remembered sending them on the list of brands in the marketing material but couldn’t describe what the company was doing at the conference or even where they were located. So they spent a bundle and reached a handful of people it would seem. This doesn’t look good.
This type of sponsorship is Steve Easterbrook’s strategy to get a group of inventors together and study them. McDonalds began participation a year earlier to achieve this goal. The enormous fast food chain wants to include within its image the notion of digital innovation. They want to be thought leaders in technology and perceived as such. Along this line they are participating in tech shows like SXSW to some degree. Although the company claims to not be where they want to be in this area they are currently working hard to move this dial in the right direction.
Ina response to the feelings that SXSW was more “corporate” this year the leadership expressed that they don’t have more sponsors, just bigger ones. The “super sponsors” are the largest corporation with the biggest budgets to participate. Last year there were 8 of these, while this year there are 10. Hundreds of companies participate on some level for the event however. As the conference grows the value of any individual sponsorship will increase with an appropriate increase in the price of that sponsorship. So it is possible that the conference will become too valuable for small companies to sponsor theoretically speaking.
The whole thing will diminish before this occurs in all likelihood but perhaps not.
This year there are over 6000 events available for visitors to attend. The increase can be attributed in some ways to the new Marriot hotel just up the street from the convention center. It can provide room for 25% more exhibitors and they are most defiantly full during the show. Although exact figures are not yet available last year there were over 32,000 attendees for Interactive. If this should increase along with the number of exhibitors we could see in the neighborhood of over 40k visitors. That’s a buncha folks.