SXSW isn’t just for the tech, music and film industry anymore. The TV world is officially making its presence known with cool installations, photo opportunities, branded transportation and more. Networks and studios are coming up with new and interesting ways to grow their audience by expanding on their existing brand recognition and just stepping it up a notch.
Here’s what we saw in Austin this week:
HBO celebrated the upcoming season premiere of their hit series Game of Thrones by creating a #SXSWesteros interactive exhibit. Fans were able to sit on the Iron Throne, participate in an interactive sword training game and even taste the new Game of Thrones-themed beer, a Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale from the Ommegang brewery. HBO joined forces with a production company called Red Paper Heart, along with Civic Entertainment Group, to create an interactive sword-fighting experience whereby attendees would pose for a portrait, then step up onto a stage and hit a target using a replica of Arya’s wooden practice sword. The more accurate you were, the more your picture would project onscreen. Users were then able to email themselves their portrait at the end.
In celebration of the release of Catch the Thrones: The Mixtape, Vol. 2, HBO set up a social media vending machine that gave out prizes including a Catch the Throne iPhone case. Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli are just a couple of artists that are featured on the mixtape that you can check out below.
FOX decided to get in on the food truck bandwagon in Austin by sending out a Simpsons-themed Kwik-E-Mart Truck of their own. The popup served over 3,400 squishees and claim to have given out the frozen sugar water at a rate of “2.6 Squishees per minute.”
National Geographic Channel presented attendees with an opportunity to check out their “Escape the Cold” simulator in advance of the season 3 premiere of Life Below Zero on April 9. Fans entered the cold climate of Alaska and had to complete challenges in order to get back to the warmth of Austin, TX.
The cable networks upcoming hacker series Mr. Robot, starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater, definitely made their presence known by sending out a street team of guys wearing all black with Mr. Robot black hoodies and sunglasses on, walking around Austin in silence. Kind of like how the guards outside of Buckingham Palace don’t speak or move. It was sort of creepy, but it goes along with the vibe of the show which premieres in June 2015. The series will debut at SXSW on March 17 and was selected as one of five TV series to appear in the Episodic Screenings, a relatively new category for SXSW Film. Other shows included The CW’s iZombie, Lifetime’s UnReal, Rashida Jones’ Angie Tribeca and FX’s The Comedians.
FX did a little something different. They took over an already existing establishment, creating the “FX Fearless Factory” where they told SXSW-goers to be Be Fearless. The installation had something fun for everyone including:
- Interactive FXNOW App Wall
- The Strain Evolution Gallery
- The FX FEARLESS Social Vending Machine
- Free Craft Coffee From Austin’s Flat Track
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Custom Giveaways And More
Visitors were treated to donuts from Little Lucy’s of Austin and could even get their own custom rigged Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll T-shirt.
What better way to promote the second season of a show than by kicking off a comedy tour featuring the stars of the series. Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Ron Funches and Rick Glassman performed at Esther’s Follies on Saturday night and I’m not gonna lie, they were pretty freaking hilarious. Make sure to tune in to the season 2 premiere of Undateable on Tuesday, March 17 at 9/8c.
Saturday Night Live had a 40th Anniversary Virtual Reality Experience Presented by Samsung Gear VR on site. Cast member Vanessa Bayer, producer Erik Kenward, and filmmaker Chris Milk were on hand to guide attendees through the experience, which allowed users to sit in on pieces of the SNL 40th (specifically, Jerry Seinfeld’s audience Q&A) as if there were part of the audience.
SXSW wouldn’t be complete without a replica of the Bates Motel to help promote the new season which premiered on March 9. In just three days, A&E had built The Bates Motel, a fully-immersive live activation based on the hit thriller by the same name. The motel will open its doors throughout the festival to let fans truly experience the world of Norman Bates, complete with authentic décor, show props designed with the series producers, a Bates-themed Tumblr GIF booth and eerie surprises around every (dimly-lit) corner.
Fans could even enter to win a night’s stay in one of the three fully-functional replica rooms which included:
· “Special” brownies – often found in White Pine Bay – from local bakery Delish;
· Maid and turndown service from leading-service booking platform Handy;
· Bates Motel-themed welcome packages from Austin-based Tito’s Vodka; and
· “Minibar room service” from liquor delivery service Drizly.
CBS provided free rides for attendees of SXSW courtesy of Battle Creek and CSI: Cyber.
CW – iZombie
Last but not least, was The CW / Buzzfeed party in celebration of the series premiere of iZombie on Tuesday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The “Party Til You’re UNDEAD” party came with everything you hoped for in an undead party, including 3D printed candy brains and even zombie hosted bartenders serving “Brain Appétit”-themed drinks.