It’s that time of year again. Filmmakers, musicians, thought-leaders and entrepreneurs gather in Austin, Texas to share their talent and ideas, all while keeping Austin weird.

Here at GSD&M, we take SXSW seriously. We throw an enormous party, attend countless panels and participate in as many events as possible during the week. This is a conference that reflects so many values our company stands for – curiosity, restlessness and community, just to name a few.

So, I wanted to invite you into knowing why SXSW is so valuable to us. Here are some notable reasons why we remain involved in the conference year after year.

Drinking from Firehoses

“SXSW is one of the things that makes Austin, Austin. It’s an incredibly unique time that brings together minds that can solve the world’s biggest problems, create Oscar-winning feats in film and unite generations with music. It reminds me that there’s no one right way to solve a problem and that our little advertising world is barely a fraction of what’s interesting in culture. No other festival gives you such a varied Austin experience or a ‘drink from the firehose’ dose of inspiration.”

–Elizabeth Thompson, Strategy Director


Not your Average Trade Show

“It’s never the same experience. Some years I’ve left wanting to leverage new technologies and some years I’ve incorporated new thinking into things we are already doing, or been armed with information that brought about change. For me it’s the best week to really absorb what is happening in the digital space.”

“For the agency, we benefit from having a flood of energized employees with new ideas. There is always a great vibe after SXSW and you can really see those individual takeaways make their way into the work for the remainder of the year and beyond.”

 “As for Austin, it’s a huge economy boost. However, I think there is also a sense of pride that comes with being able to say that for two weeks the best, brightest and most talented people in the interactive and entertainment space choose to come to our city and share knowledge. I’ve been to various trade shows but this isn’t that. It’s a platform for knowledge and talent sharing that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.”

–Amy Torres, Digital Producer

 It’s in the Bag

“SXSW means the best concentration of innovation, music and film from all over the country. For the agency, it means all of this is in your backyard, so embrace it and dive in.  For Austin, it’s a mixed bag. It means traffic woes, long lines, next to impossible dinner options and a shit load of tax revenue.  One of the best parts of SXSW is the discovery of things around the corner.  You have to get out and wander to find it but it’s always new and different. Walk around the convention center and listen or join in on conversations taking place inside or outside the many panel sessions.  Walk around outside the convention center and do the same.  Walk down 6th between Congress and 35 and see the freak show spectacle during music. It’s guaranteed to be more exciting than the last Mad Max sequel.”

–David Rockwood, VP/Community Relations

Conversation Convergence

“SXSW is the one time of year where the internet shows up at our front door in person. Literally, the people you watch, read, and enjoy online end up roaming around town for a week. A lot of the time I get more out of the conversations and relationships that are built than the panels themselves (though they can be great too).”

–Rye Clifton, Experience Director 


What happens at SXSW wakes up the minds of all involved, from panel participants to concert goers. It’s fuel to GSD&Mers who take away ideas that shape their work and lives.

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