German supermarket chain Edeka faced an age-old marketing problem: how to get a younger crowd into the store where Grandma shops? In they brought Friedrich Liechtenstein, performance artist, entertainer and self-described ornamental hermit (look it up) from Berlin’s avantgarde art scene. His electropop song “Supergeil”, loosely translated “super awesome” but a bit more edgy (normal grandpa would not use the word), combined with some suggestive food use, groovy dancing and a sonorous voice became an instant internet sensation in Germany. It’s certainly unlike any supermarket spot you have ever seen and a clever piece of rebranding.
SXSW is an even more awesome place to launch a product than anyone knew, if Neil Young’s plug last week for Pono is anything to go by.
Young brought crowds to their feet at SXSW and held them in the palm of his hand from the moment that he began to talk about the deep pleasures of listening to music as the artists meant it to be heard.
“Nice to see y’all here – with your devices,” he told the crowd by way of greeting and exacted from the crowd an appreciative cheer. They knew where he was going. Young had appeared on David Letterman well over a year earlier to introduce the Pono, a triangular wedge (it’s been justifiably compared to a Toblerone chocolate bar) of a music player that he has developed with a team headed by John Hamm, CEO of the Pono company.
Pono, Hawaiian for “righteousness”, was conceived of by Young, a musician so notoriously fussy about the sound quality of his work that he once bought back 200,000 CDs he considered inferior and allegedly used them to shingle the roof of his barn. “I love every note on every record,” he told the crowd, adding “[those songs] meant something to me; they were a family of songs about stories that meant something to me.”
“Thanks for even just being interested in this idea, which we’ve been trying to get off the ground for two and a half years. It’s kind of amazing that it would take two and a half years… Rescuing an art form is something that’s not too big a consideration to too many people in the investment community,” said Young, taking his audience through a history of music recording formats and industry decisions.
In Alfred Hitchcocks 1959 classic “North by Northwest”, fugitive ad executive Roger Thornhill (a suave Cary Grant) says: “In the world of advertising, there’s no such thing as a lie. There’s only expedient exaggeration.”
South by Southwest (SXSW), the festival named after the Hitchcock movie, walks a similar fine line between sweeping prediction, genuine insight and outright promotion.
Of course, it’s also this (in no particular order): a giant Happy Hour with free booze available everywhere, a source of inspiration, a great way to re-learn how to stand in a line (SXSW veteran advice: never stand in line), a place of random meetings, and just plain fun.
For the third year in a row, Flip the Media covered the event through a whirlwind of panels, keynotes, parties and late night editing sessions. Here is what a few of our writers took away from the experience and what they think is hot in tech.
SXSW was a feast of ideas, color – but most of all, people. This slide show reveals a fraction of the things we saw. All photos by the author.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make his city a hub for the tech industry. More and more businesses are recognizing that the Windy City is a great place to live because of its strong transportation system, affordable cost of living and vibrant arts and cultural scene, Emanuel said during his SXSW interview. He and Michelle Boone from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs talked to Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell about the plans to establish the city as a destination for creativity, innovation and the arts.
“We create the platform for you to develop jobs,” Emanuel said, addressing the tech sector. “We make the city hot enough, the talent you are all chasing now (will be here).”
The mayor said a thriving arts community is important for making a city a desirable place to live and work. Fun fact: His commitment to the arts was informed in part by his background as a ballet dancer.
A highly noticed communication breakdown occurred today when Twitter was out of commission for twenty minutes.
If Twitter goes down for 20 minutes during SXSW, do those 20 minutes of SXSW really exist?
— Samuel v. Allen (@amorygatsby) March 11, 2014
Wait, a cookie? Well, it’s not any old cookie. This cookie is made with cricket flour and it tastes delicious (really). Each one contains 5g of protein and a couple of them could be a complete breakfast. Bitty, the maker of this treat is one of many well-funded Silicon Valley start-ups trying to make insect food cool.