SXSW: Highlights From The Influential Austin Experience 

Steve and I are off to Austin, Texas, USA for South by South West's annual Film, Music and Interactivity festival that should be in every media influencer's diary. We’re newbies to the whole SXSW experience but along with the Cannes Lions it is a key opportunity to showcase A Million Ads to the media industry and I’m speaking as part of the Brands and Marketing track of the Interactive festival. As we have some coffee fuelled travel time, here are a few thoughts on what makes SXSW such an influential event.

I bought an early generation iPod in 2002, or rather Capital Radio Plc my employer at the time did. Before then I had put sonic presentations together on tape, DAT, CD and/or minidisc. We had thousands of audio clips, radio ads and soundtracks from TV ads in an archive grandly called 'The Sonic Laboratory'. The iPod, cleverly pitched as ‘a thousand songs in your pocket’, offered a perfect solution to the fact that in those days we played individual clips from a playlist which had different orders for different clients. So now there was no need to re-record, burn or reorder on these different formats. The iPod, or rather the iPod + iTunes, was every sonic presentation I could ever want to give in my pocket. The problem was, after about a year of use the battery died, and it couldn't be replaced for less than the cost of a NEW iPod! That’s pretty annoying even if you didn’t stump up the substantial cost in the first place. This issue really irked the filmmaker Casey Neistat. In fact, it annoyed him so much that he decided to make a public service film called iPod’s Dirty Secret about his direct action on iPod’s iconic poster campaign. It became the first viral online video I can remember. It might not seem significant now but this was 2003, YouTube didn’t launch until 2005, to watch the short film you needed to patiently download it! I kept a close eye on Casey’s career ever since and he went from having his own HBO show with his brother, to producing commercials, to becoming one of the biggest YouTube stars out there, to launching a Tech Media company which he recently sold to CNN. Casey is discussing his fascinating journey at SXSW 2017, and this is his most recent film about what it means to be a creator.

 
 

Casey has claimed that is was his young son that introduced him to YouTube because he wasn’t that impressed his dad had an HBO series as he and his friends didn’t watch TV. It’s hardly ground breaking to highlight the impact the internet has had on video content but it feels online audio content is now being talked about in a similar way in it’s evolution. Video and audio are very different and consumed in different ways but people’s attraction to on demand, personalised content will only continue to accelerate.

My presentation content has evolved over the years, some of the core examples have survived from the playlists of that first iPod while others have been added, developed or are the result of research. Around the time that iPod battery was dying, I was involved in commissioning research into Musical Fit and the Recall of Radio Ads with Professor Adrian North who at the time was at Leicester University’s, Centre for Psychology. We had been draw to his fascinating work into music and consumer behaviour, through his study into the effect music has on wine purchasing preference (a study we mention in the animation on our home page). To understand how marketing and advertising works, it’s logical to look at how human communication works and the work of psychologists around the world. Advertising is about influence so it was no wonder the work of Dr Robert Cialdini would come up, because he quite literally wrote the book on the Psychology of Influence. I've found his theory on the 6 weapons of influence a great way to showcase influential sonic creative and was fortunate to get a pre-release copy of his recent new book, Pre-suasion, from his publishers. Robert is discussing this new book with Guy Kawasaki at SXSW and he also quotes Adrian’s wine study in the opening chapter.

 
 

Although we applied to speak at SXSW well before we had agreed to work with Pandora, it’s now a happy coincidence we can be here with them as they are one of the festival's major sponsors. With them sitting perfectly between two of the three main strands, interactive and music, they have a big presence all over Austin. If you happen to be at SXSW our session is called Subconsciously Seduced by Sound, 11.00 – 12.00, Salon E, JW Marriott. Where we will be presenting our theory on how and why our subconscious has such an impact on the information we’re influenced by and how brands can use dynamic creative and personalisation to take advantage.

 

SXSW: Subconsciously Seduced by Sound

MAR 15, 2017 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM, JW Marriott, Salon E

The digital age is responsible for a dramatic decline in the human attention span. However brand advertising has a powerful secret weapon, sound. Or more specifically, communicating to people’s subconscious with sound. From utilising the passive nature of hearing to psychologically condition people to using selective attention to make people actively listen, relevant sounds have an extraordinary effect on influencing emotional memory, behaviour and brand selection. Join this experiential session to learn how this legacy of our evolution is being used in dynamic creative and personalisation for digital audio, helping brands communicate the way humans do instinctively.

Sam Crowther

Sam is fascinated by sound, particularly understanding how and why it affects us in the way it does. As well as developing the understanding of how we apply dynamic personalised sound within ads Sam tests the creative boundaries of this format to make them more human.