for brands on a mission
SxSW: The future is built on potential

In March our Head of Creative Services, Harrie Jack, hit the streets of Texas to connect with bright educators, brush shoulders with celebs and eat exclusively at fancy food trucks at SxSW 2019 (lucky her, right?). Now that the excitement has settled and the jet lag has passed, she’s compiled her key takeaways from this year’s event (lucky us!). The result? SxSW revealed much more about the future for not only us as marketers, but humanity as a whole. Read on to find out what went down.

Ever wanted to be mind-blown by culture, ideas and inspiration? I hear you. My advice: head to Austin for SxSW. This year’s jaunt across the Pacific left me wanting more, to come up with much better ideas, to expand my learning beyond my industry and to push everything to the limit, always.

It’s hard to create a centralised theme from SxSW, as the diversity on offer is part of its alluring charm. You can literally learn about anything you want, in broad mind-blowing strokes or granular detail from amazing industry leaders. So your theme can be anything you want: how the blockchain is enabling data ownership, the potential of Cannabusiness or whether robots will one day be able to feel human emotions.


But one idea kept cropping up. In 2019, it is all up for grabs. If you can think of it, you can make it happen. If there is potential, it can happen. As ever, to every ying there is a yang, to every pull there is a push. With potential, fears of limits were highlighted. Fears of technologies becoming too big, fear of the irregular and fear of breaking boundaries.


This seems like an obvious one, but blockchain was one of the defining topics for me that held the most potential. Yes, I’m aware everyone is talking about this, but for good reason. This digital ledger has extended well beyond tracking crypto currencies into healthcare, food, seasonal goods. Quite simply, it is the proof of where things came from and how they got to you.

More importantly, it will allow brands to be completely transparent and honest with promises of origin. Blockchain will allow consumers to track exactly where their products come from and the various touch points along the way. So for a cup of coffee for example, you can see the farm where the beans are grown, the manufacturer, the shop – you get the picture. The main conversation for me was around the potential impact medically, specifically Victoria Adams spoke passionately about the possibility of utilising block chain to end the opioid crisis in America.


Another element that was prevalent throughout the week was human potential from a physical perspective. One of my favourite sessions featured 400m Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper, whose main career goal was to be the fastest man in the world, with or without legs. Coupling this drive with revolutionary science of artificial limbs suggests we’re not far off abled and disabled athletes competing together.


Finally, and a career in ideas is likely why this resonated with me the most, is how creative ideas are pushing the boundaries of taboo. Creativity is taking difficult conversations and making them mainstream. For instance, if you were to say that TV series would be making a comeback 10 years ago compared to the film industry, you would have been called foolish. We live and work in an industry where we have the right to push the normal. We can think of ideas that will speak to the minorities, the down-trodden and tell true and poignant stories. Jason Blum highlighted this with his work on modern day horror, Get Out spoke candidly to racism coupled with dark humour. Completely amazing. It made me chuffed but hungry to push change and great ideas wherever I can.

Until next time SxSW.

By Harrie Jack, Head of Creative Services