AUSTIN, TEXAS Branded events held their own against official festival events at South by Southwest this year, and among the dozens of companies that visited Austin last week, Spin, Red Bull, and Carrera helmed daily activations.
As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, which kicked off at SXSW, Spin returned to Austin with its two annual events. The magazine teamed up with MySpace Music for a party on Friday afternoon and also hosted a private loft and performance space for an invite-only crowd for the duration of the festival. Both brands turned to producers Visionary Group Los Angeles and additional partners such as Rock Band, Best Buy Music, and K-Swiss to provide activities for guests. One of the week's hardest tickets to score, Friday's showcase at Stubb's featured a headline performance by Courtney Love and Hole, the band's first stateside gig since recently reuniting.
Red Bull also doubled up on events this year. After nixing its late-night Moon Tower concert series on the outskirts of town, the brand hosted private showcases on Friday and Saturday night in downtown Austin's warehouse district. Friday's Big Tune concert—part of the beverage maker's touring series of the same name—pitted producers against each other in a musical competition that came complete with a March Madness-inspired bracket format. On Saturday, rapper Mos Def made a surprise appearance for a crowd of over 2,000 at Red Bull's closing night Thre3Style party.
Others catered to smaller crowds. After making its SXSW debut last year, Safilo-owned Carrera teamed up with BMF Media for a new, bigger gifting suite and lounge at Austin restaurant Cedar Door. The sunglasses brand brought on Airwalk, Alternative Apparel, Malibu, Cafe Bustelo, and Dos Equis to fill the 2,000-square-foot patio with influencers. Inside, representatives from the different companies met with talent visiting the suite, and guests could sign up for complimentary hair styling, manicures, and tattoos.