Another 10 days of SXSW madness have come and gone in Austin, Texas, but what’s going to stick around? I talked to GSD&Mers who went head-first into panels, activations and more to learn about what stood out in all the noise this year.
Overall, we saw three themes of success:
Keep reading for more SXSW smarts straight from the experiences of our people.
The Comcast/NBC Universal house had fun and simple shareable moments that people were happy to wait in line for. From Michael Scott’s desk straight from The Office, to a professional modeling photo experience by Project Runway, people got to interact with shows they know and love.
“Method doesn’t matter. It’s the effect.” Technology is developing and becoming cooler every day, but we can still create immersive experiences in scrappy ways.
In a discussion with venture capitalist, Roger McNamee, on the topic of big corporations and data, he discussed how their business models are a misuse of our trust and will ultimately affect future laws and elections. His most important takeaway was to focus this power on the good that we can do (e.g. birthday donations on Facebook) as a society before it’s too late.
Good Heavens—they’re an upbeat, beachy, indie-rock band who put on a lively and super fun show.
My favorite panel was a discussion between musician Brandi Carlile and actor Elisabeth Moss where they compared and contrasted their creative processes in their respective industries. It made me realize we all have rituals and tools that spark our creativity and allow us to be better storytellers.
SXSW taught me that 1) I know nothing, and 2) women run the world.
The Good Omens activation for the new Amazon Prime original show was well thought out and conceptual without feeling complicated. Details like “Heaven” or “Hell” bracelets, puppies labeled as “Hell Hounds in Training” and the Tree of Eden bar gave a sense for the show without making me feel like I was being sold something.
Yola. Tyler Ramsey. Cautious Clay. Novo Amor.
“Immersive Marketing: Beyond the Instagram Palace” discussed the importance of creating authentic experiences, like the trend of “fantasy worlds,” because consumers are more prone to feel an emotional connection. In turn, we see social posts happen organically and consumers will capture unique parts of their individual experiences.
Whatever it is, keep it authentic.
During “Milk Bar: Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected,” chef and founder of Milk Bar, Christina Tosi, spoke about remaining relevant without losing authenticity. It’s about trying and failing, trying and iterating and ultimately creating a unique experience that stays true to the brand.
It’s not about “experiential” per se, it’s about doing something different and distinct.
Well, you heard it here first straight from our experts. Be genuine and get genuine responses in return, don’t be afraid to stand out and at the end of the day, simplicity wins. We’re beyond lucky to live in the heart of Austin where we can walk outside of our doors, soak up this knowledge and bring it right back in. From how we’re telling stories in First & Only ways to finding room to do good using our strengths in advertising, our people are already activating what SXSW 2019 taught us.
Until next year, SXSW!
Another year has come and gone, so it felt like the right time to reflect on all of the goodness that came out of GSD&M. 2018 was filled with game-changing work, much-needed conversations, well-deserved celebrations and, of course, so much good music. I somehow managed to narrow down what I believe to be GSD&M’s finest moments to 11 highlights and one playlist. Keep reading for a glimpse into last year.
Harry’s: A Man Like You
Breaking stereotypes and creating a cultural conversation around media’s portrayal of masculinity, the Harry’s short film was a breakthrough way of storytelling for a men’s grooming brand. The work even earned a Cannes Lions for film and a Glass Lion for change.
GSD&M Party at SXSW 2018
We gathered thousands of our closest friends, community members and partners in our backyard for the 8th Annual GSD&M Party featuring White Reaper, Durand Jones & The Indications, Pale Waves and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, and we’re ready to do it again!
Alongside 200 female leaders in advertising, GSD&M’s President, Marianne Malina, was a founding member of Time’s Up/Advertising™. GSD&M helped lead the movement of saying “time’s up” on inequality in our industry and fronted a launch event across 14 cities in North America and Canada.
Winning Jack Link’s + Retaining U.S. Air Force
We took a break from our desks and gathered in the backyard to celebrate all of the hard work that led to winning our new client, Jack Link’s, and retaining our 17-year client, U.S. Air Force, for another 10 great years.
From futurists to improv teachers and leading chocolate connoisseurs, GSD&M brought in the brightest minds inside and outside of Austin to inspire and discuss what it means to create ideas that make a difference.
Winning Pizza Hut
We welcomed our newest client, Pizza Hut, with champagne, and of course, PIZZA!
GSD&M Presents: Jared & The Mill
Arizona folk rockers, Jared & The Mill, stopped by while on tour to play some acoustic versions of their latest jams.
Free the Bid
In order to continue the mission of creating more diverse and meaningful work, GSD&M pledged to Free the Bid and put more women editors and directors on projects.
Halloween at GSD&M
As an office of creatives, we don’t take Halloween lightly. From The Shining Twins to Guy Fieri, this year’s costume contest was far from overrated.
Popeyes Emotional Support Chicken
The TSA-friendly, emotional support animal you can eat, Popeyes’ Emotional Support Chicken, took the media by storm. Appearing in Cosmopolitan, Delish.com, USA Today and much more, everyone ate it up, quite literally.
GSD&M Holiday Card: Austin Pets Alive!
This year, we used our annual holiday card to give back to our local animal shelter, Austin Pets Alive! Including an 18-foot “wishlist tree”, donations from employees, a GSDM.com takeover, and a card sent to our favorite family, friends and clients, our holiday initiative raised tons of awareness, funds, and shelter necessities, and gave every animal a blanket to keep warm this winter.
And to top it all off, here’s a comprehensive playlist featuring every song from GSD&M’s monthly playlists in 2018.
If last year is any indication of how 2019 will go, I’d say we have a lot to look forward to.
As ACL Fest comes barreling around the corner and Austin prepares for the madness that takes over Zilker Park, we reached out to our in-house festival experts to help guide festival newbies and old hats alike through not one but two of the wildest weekends in ATX. Complete with pro tips and must-see artists, everything you need to survive is right here, including a playlist featuring this year’s artists.
Name: Mariah Kline
Years attending ACL: 2
Pro tip: Unless you’re camped out, skip the headliner. You’ll be so far back you’ll just be watching a screen.
Must-see artist: Marian Hill
Name: Jacob Stern
Years attending ACL: 11
Pro tip: Get there early and see someone you’ve never heard of. Wander around with open ears and no agenda, and you could stumble onto your new favorite band.
Must-see artists: The National, St. Vincent, Alvvays, Japanese Breakfast, Sweet Spirit
Name: Kevin Lane
Years attending ACL: 5
Pro tip: Bring a handkerchief. Tie it around your neck and breathe through it so you don’t die of allergies when the dust gets kicked up.
Must-see artist: Golden Dawn Arkestra. Their feel-good music and theatrics make the perfect festival act.
Name: Marie Graw
Years attending ACL: 4
Pro tip: Keep your head up and your eyes open—you never know who you’re going to see out in the crowd.
Must-see artists: Brandi Carlile for the sweetest voice, Trampled by Turtles for some Northern Minnesota jammy bluegrass and Sweet Spirit if you’re looking to dance your face off.
Name: Karla Macias
Years attending ACL: 5
Pro tip: Organize beforehand. Make a spreadsheet of bands you want to see and the stages they’re on. Don’t forget nondrowsy allergy meds.
Must-see artists: Greta Van Fleet will take you back through time. Golden Dawn Arkestra will get you moving. Sweet Spirit is a must-see local band. Charley Crockett if you like country/blues.
Name: Jack Eptseen
Years attending ACL: 5
Pro tip: When you want to recharge, check out the BMI stage. Always great music, always mellow.
Must-see artists: The Nude Party, Ruston Kelly. I also hear that McCartney guy is gonna be huge.
Name: Miguel Masso
Years attending ACL: 4
Pro tip: Force yourself to go to the restroom prior to waiting for an artist.
Must-see artist: Khalid
Name: Alex King
Years attending ACL: 1
Pro tip: Bring an empty water bottle or Camelbak. Bring a totem if you have a big group, and bring a bandana for sweat, cooling down and as an emergency napkin.
Must-see artists: St. Vincent and Golden Dawn Arkestra
Well, the experts have spoken. Let the festival come to you and go with the flow, don’t forget to take allergy precautions and get your dance moves ready for Sweet Spirit. In case you need some help deciding who to see, press play on this playlist featuring a whole bunch of this year’s performers and find your favorites.
Following an overnight drive from Albuquerque to Austin, Arizona folk-rockers made an appearance at GSD&M to play some new tunes for us as they started their national tour with Lydia. Their boisterous set in the middle of the agency filled the halls with good vibes and now we’re all impatiently awaiting the new record.
“Jared & The Mill are straight-shooters. From the start, the indie rockers have made a living out of telling like it is without any strings or frills attached. That extends to their sound, too, replete with swirling, gothic rhythms, rich guitar tones, and sincere vocal deliveries, which feature on their forthcoming album set to be released in early 2019.” –PopMatters, on the latest single, Feels Like.
We’re a month away from SXSW. Yep, that’s right—the week that fills our streets with music, people and even more booze and food than usual. Deep breaths. For those of us who embrace the madness with open arms, we caught up with both GSD&M’s SXSW vets and new mavens to get the best tips, tricks and tracks for SXSW 2018. Spoiler alert: playlist included.
Name: Bill Bayne
Years attending SXSW: 15
Pro tip: When there are a few bands I don’t know on a lineup, I’ll stay in that venue to experience their show versus running all over town with a schedule.
Must-see band: Quiet Slang. More commonly known as Beach Slang, they’re reimagining their Replacements-y gnashed catalog into a softer vibe played with piano and cello.
Name: Mason Endres
Years attending SXSW: 5
Pro tip: Never plan for things to go as planned. If you make a schedule, it’s not going to happen.
Must-see band: The Magic Gang, Sunflower Bean and Jared & The Mill.
Name: David Rockwood
Years attending SXSW: 25 whole years
Pro tip: Random is way better than planning.
Must-see band: BRONCHO
Name: Candi Clem
Years attending SXSW: 1
Pro tip: Stay hydrated. Take advantage of networking opportunities.
Must-see band: My favorite artists at SXSW are the ones I haven’t discovered yet.
Name: Jack Epsteen
Years attending SXSW: 8, I think?
Pro tip: Don’t overschedule, let the day and night guide you. And most of all, NO FOMO.
Must-see band: Ratboys!
Name: Rye Clifton
Years attending SXSW: 7, I think
Pro tip: Go alone. It is a lot easier to sneak in places when you aren’t part of a group.
Must-see band: The Fantastic Plastics
Name: Elizabeth Thompson
Years attending SXSW: At least 12?! How is that possible? Does 10 make me sound younger?
Pro tip: Forego fashion for function when it comes to shoes, and attend the events you love, even if your friends don’t.
Must-see band: The best I can do, so far, is local favorite David Ramirez, Will Varley, Peach Pit, The Yellow Traffic Light, a TBD beautiful crooner at St. David’s church during the Communion Showcase.
It seems as though there’s a general consensus that going with the flow of SXSW is the most fun and effective way to make it through the chaos—that, and comfortable shoes. Aside from the tips and tricks, there is a playlist with all of the above musical suggestions and then some.
It’s the aroma of fried food and warm beer, getting the perfect picture in the perfect #ootd and getting the ultimate snap of the wild crowd dancing to this year’s biggest radio hit. It’s the era of music festivals and it’s not slowing down. According to a study conducted by GMR, a whopping 14.7 million millennials attended at least one music festival in 2014. With over 800 music festivals in the U.S. alone today (and a new one was probably just announced as you’re reading this), one can only imagine how the number of festival attendees continues to grow.
Millennials demand authentic, shareable experiences. To garner as much exposure with America’s largest consumer group, brands are infiltrating the music festival industry. As the commercialization of festivals rises, sponsorship spending is on the verge of hitting $1.5 billion—the equivalent of buying 3,000 trips to Mars.
Today, festivals rely on brand sponsorship and brands rely on festivals for unparalleled fan engagement. With all this partnership, it’s critical to ask, “What does a successful brand-festival relationship look like from the eyes of music fans?” As a 21-year-old self-proclaimed festival expert who has attended over 15 music festivals in the last year alone, to me, these are some of the brands that understand their market.
Shares, hashtags, selfies and tweets are the currency of the digital age, and these are the brands that get it. Their integrations are thoughtful and meaningful, not plug-and-plays. They combine elevated experiences, pop culture and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to capitalize on millennials’ need to keep sharing moments.
Today’s festival junkies expect impressive brand integrations just as much as they expect good music, because experiences are what make spending hundreds of dollars on a single weekend worth it.
Written by Zinny Bonner
Apple announced its newest feat at taking over the world last week. Okay, not really the world, but might as well be. Improvements to Apple Pay, News Apps and their latest venture, Apple Music, proves that Apple continues to be a force to be reckoned with, not only with their ability to create a new phone every five seconds, but in fact, the leader in creating technology that influences the way we listen to music and ultimately, the way we live our lives.
Apple Music has finally jumped on the streaming train but not without adding their own touch. This new feature available to all Apple products (Android and PC later in the year) will have the entire iTunes library, the music added to your personal library, a radio with live DJs and a social media factor that connects artists and fans.
When iTunes debuted in 2003, it changed the way we listened to music and has now become so embedded in our everyday lives that we forget how much of a game changer it was. Now in 2015, iTunes is old news, and Apple Music is Apple’s attempt at reminding people they are still in the business of providing music. One component of Apple Music is, of course, music. This will give you access to your personal library of music you’ve downloaded and also access to the entire iTunes library for streaming songs on demand. Also, Apple “experts” handpick songs and playlists they think you might like based on what you listen to regularly. Jack Epsteen, SVP/director of production at GSD&M and self-proclaimed “Apple geek,” noted that although he’s excited to see how the music library works, he’s not sure that this latest venture by Apple will tear people away from their routine streaming program. “Unless Apple can do what Tidal and Spotify haven’t been able to do—find a real, sustainable streaming model that also pays the curators—I don’t think this will change how musicians do business,” he said.
Another piece of this project is Beats 1, “The world’s local station.” With DJs from Los Angeles, New York and London, Apple is trying to get people to appreciate a shared listening experience. It will be interesting to see how many people will tune into the 24/7 radio stations.
Lastly, there’s Connect. Connect is basically Apple’s own social media and “a place where fans can engage with their favorite artists.” Essentially the feature allows for artists to post directly to the platform, anything from unreleased music to rehearsals in the studio. This is where Apple has taken the risk, as it’s like nothing they’ve done before. As a social media lover myself, I’m curious to know what is going to make people and artists stray away from the traditional tweet or Facebook post that could serve the same purpose.
Jacqueline Coffey, associate media director at GSD&M, said that one somewhat overlooked aspect of Apple Music is that it does not offer on-demand music for free with advertising, and Spotify, YouTube and Pandora do. Although their option of $14.99 for up to six people on a plan is a better deal than Spotify’s $9.99 per person, Coffey said Apple will be playing catch-up and “coming from a Spotify user whose day-to-day life is rooted in digital media, the market is cluttered, and it will take a lot more than the Apple name for users to make the switch.”
On the other hand, David Rockwood, VP/community relations at GSD&M, thinks the goal of Apple introducing this new feature is not to necessarily switch from one streaming program to another, but instead convert all non-Apple device users. “Since there are over 100 million iPhones out there, downloading their new software update with one easy-to-use music service will help them sell even more phones, which is probably their bigger goal, to sell more hardware,” said Rockwood. According to Hardware Top 100, Apple is #20, with HP, Samsung and Foxconn in the top three positions.
So Apple Music could be the next big thing or just Apple’s failed attempt at remaining relevant and shiny in the music business. We’ll find out June 30 when it launches, and I can’t wait to see what it’s all about.
Some of our favorite ads of all time owe their awesomeness to the music supervisor working diligently behind the scenes to secure the perfect track. During SXSW, our VP/Community (and wearer of many hats including music supervisor) David Rockwood met up with the guys at Jingle Punks to talk music and advertising.
If you came within a five-mile radius of a WiFi signal Monday, you probably heard about the launch of Tidal, the new music streaming service and Jay-Z’s newest project. Artists turned over their social profiles in anticipation and support, and millions watched the livestream of the big unveiling.Analysis abounds on what this means for the music industry and artists (just Google “Taylor Swift + Tidal” and you’ll see what I mean), but what is the impact on advertisers?
It’s tempting to say “it’s ad-free, so there won’t be one,” but if Tidal wants to survive long term after this initial publicity blitz, it will have to embrace some form of a brand integration strategy. There is room for unique premium branded content plays – not ads per se – but videos, behind the scenes shows… exclusive, engaging content. An off-the-cuff example is Red Bull – I can easily see them pairing up with Tidal for their music integrations or death defying stunts.
Once Tidal embraces brand integrations, we start talking about competition – digital radio is growing and it is sought after environments for brands. It’s effective in longer storytelling and targetable for local, among other things. Another player in the mix will most likely increase audience fragmentation to a certain degree, but ultimately it is also another environment for brands to play with… assuming enough consumers jump onboard to make it worthwhile.
At the end of the day, consumers are value conscious. Yes, most music enthusiasts do want to support their favorite artists (and Tidal’s differentiating factor, aside from superior sound quality, is that it’s the “musician’s streaming service”), but a desire to support artists has yet to be proven to be enough for adoption (especially when subscription price point is fairly high). And in turn, brands follow consumer behavior, so Tidal needs to figure out what its audience is – most likely it will be affluent, 30s-40s – users who want premium content and are willing to pay more for the allure of Jay-Z’s affiliation.
We’re in the earliest stages of Tidal’s launch, so I’m guessing we’ll learn much more in the coming days, but in my opinion, the new kid on the block has some work to do to entice consumers and brands to catch the wave.
It was a long few weeks of welding, soldering, coding, recoding and music mixing. And despite a few close encounters with a blowtorch, we did it. On November 7, Beat Bikes launched at Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Earlier this year, Austin B-cycle, the bike-sharing system here in Austin, enlisted the help of GSD&M. Since then, we’ve been intent on transforming Austin B-cycle into an Austin institution. Like the bike-sharing equivalent of breakfast tacos. Or roller derby. Or chicken $#!% bingo. You get the idea.
As a part of this plan, we set out to expand Austin B-cycle’s presence at Austin’s festival circuit. So we collaborated with our friends at Dell to invent something the world had never seen. We call it an interactive pedal-operated, beat-switching, music mash-up machine. Or if you’re into catchy titles, Beat Bikes. (more…)