SXSW: The techies not the tech are lessons from Austin

SXSW: The techies not the tech are lessons from Austin


Despite the annual influx of SXSW hashtags reporting innovation and bringing news of new digital startups hitting our twitterboxes each March… It's hard to fathom quite what you'll get from South By SouthWest, a 5 day interactive festival held in a town that’s motto is "Keep Austin Weird". 

Ultimately, as advertising agencies, we look to SXSW to learn from the latest technology and platforms so that we can find opportunities for our client's brands to catch the zeitgeist and impact behaviour.

But whilst advertising has always been about winning the moment and this is as close as you'll get to today's cutting edge moment, it doesn't take too many presentations from Silicon Valley's finest to see that advertising can learn a lot more from their spirit then the whereabouts of the next bandwagon.

A talk about 3D printing, Google Glass or a keynote address from a billionaire genius or former US Vice President can quickly convince you that you now know the future. But what's more intriguing is actually the simplicity of their success. At SXSW you hear multimillionaire founders and start up celebrities cite their success as simply – creatively solving human problems. 

The American Tech scene is quite simply the most lucrative commercial centre on the planet, its invention, reinvention and innovation is changing the way the world reads, communicates, buys, banks and operates and it does this on the simple premise of solving real people's problems.

It may take a few genius programmers, some luck and a lot of capital funding but, the success stories from YouTube to Behance tell you that winning here is about who can help improve people's lives the most. 

So, yes ad agencies can learn how to crack the next social network for their clients here at SXSW but what is more intriguing is actually learning how we can, as an industry move from positioning brands to understanding how we can help our clients maximise value for their audiences. That requires a subtle but poignant shift from seeking return first to delivering value for people first.

Daniel Lipman is a senior business director for DDB Sydney.

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