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SXSW 2018: Creative Brand Activations From Bumble, HBO, Gatorade, and More

Brands competed for attention with pop-ups, networking suites, virtual-reality experiences, and giveaways.

By Nadia Chaudhury March 26, 2018, 7:00 AM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of Vimeo

For 10 days, South by Southwest flooded the city with the latest in technology, film, music, and art. The conference, which ran from March 9 to 18, has become a favorite place for brands to activate, with well over 70,000 attendees swarming the city.

While 2018’s rendition of the conference felt more subdued from years’ past—Spotify and House of Vans were among the brands that opted out of large-scale events—SXSW did feel more focused. Brands honed in on exactly what they wanted to present, whether it was through virtual-reality experience with Sony’s music video or Warner Bros.’ Ready Player One recreation or simple but fun photo booth engagements.

One of the bigger standout activations was HBO’s intricately executed recreation of a theme park from its show Westworld. It was even awarded SXSW's first-ever Best Immersive Experience award.

Amidst the frenzy, the city was also dealing with a then-active serial bomber situation, to the point where the annual Bud Light and Roots SXSW Jam was canceled because of a bomb threat.

With that, here’s a look at how brands stood out to the attendees.

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