Sparrow’s SXSW Sydney Wrap!

Sparrow’s SXSW Sydney Wrap!

B&T’s roving editor, Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham, got lost in last week’s inaugural SXSW event in Sydney. Here’s his prime takeouts from a frantic week…

WOW, that really was a B.H.A.G – Big Hairy Arduous Goal, if there ever was one!

Guess what SXSW Sydney, you did it … and for a first-off SXSW outside Austin, Texas outstanding, they had 37 years to tweak and improve it year on year.

You smashed it right out of the gate, now were there some initial teething stuff; sure which is totally expected for any undertaking of this ambition and scale. So, the canteen in the ICC ran out of food on day three and I didn’t get to see Charlie Brooker for the crazy queues. But guess what, that’s all part of the SXSW experience, I met some cool people in that line and I found a great burger at Shorty’s food truck near the CBA activation.

I love a list and here is my Top 10 of SXSW Sydney:

  1. Best Overall session: David Droga in conversation with Sunita Gloster (lead image)
  2. Favorite SXSW speaker: Futurist Amy Webb
  3. Best track: Marketing/advertising including WPP House at the Powerhouse Museum.
  4. Best House: Couldn’t decide between Seven House and American Express x Universal Music House
  5. Great Activation: Primeville
  1. Favorite area: Tumbalong Park – the free main stage and the activations (including Suntory 196 giant vending machine.)
  2. Best SXSW On the street encounter: the crazy monks who tried to enlist me into a cult- the QR code took me to a gaming activation.
  3. Surprise & Delight: The quality, size, and scale of the Expo
  4. Pinch me moment: An exclusive performance/storytelling session with Guy Sebastian at WPP House/GroupM Wavemaker session.
  5. Best Party: Closing party at the Soho House pop-up.

My top 3 SXSW Sydney takeaways:

  1. AI stage conversations were everywhere, the majority of speakers didn’t expect the robots to kill us and take over the world like a bad movie but help us with the bland mundane middle-of-the-road tasks and free us.
  2. The tenacity of Australians to excel in the world across so many industries is incredibly inspiring e.g., Bruna Papandrea is so talented and down to earth.
  3. The creativity of humans with our flaws, nuances, quirks, and imperfections will still thrive plus creativity and technology need each other.

On reflection, after the exhaustion wore off and I reminisced on the first SXSW Sydney, it was a triumph, and I can’t wait to see how they can take it to another level, and make it more magical and special next year. SXSW Sydney 2024 bring it on!




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Greg 'Sparrow' Graham SXSW

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