Pandora's marketing and sales execs will be at South by Southwest Interactive this weekend, mixing with agencies, brands, and technology vendors. But that's only the beginning for the music service's team. As many SXSWi attendees leave Austin, TX on March 13, Pandora marketers will stay put for several days to work the Music section of the festival.
Heidi Browning, SVP of strategic solutions for the Oakland, CA-based company, explained that the lines are blurring between the Interactive, Film, and Music portions of the mega-event. (Echoing a prediction Pepsi digital head Shiv Singh made last year.) For instance, Browning said, industry players shouldn't mistake Interactive as a purely business-facing conference and Music as solely consumer facing.
SXSW Music, she said, has become a business-side marketing animal unto itself, offering opportunities to court advertisers. "South by Southwest has become akin to CES and Cannes," Browning said. "It's important for us to be there."
The Interactive section alone will likely bring in more than 19,000 attendees, a SXSW rep told ClickZ. The number of Music attendees promises to be similar.
"Discovery Den" and Secret Show on Tap
Pandora is setting up a "Discovery Den" for the Music event (March 13-18). The so-called den will be located at Antone's, a renowned Austin music venue, while, according to Browning, rewarding key advertisers with offline activations at the highly trafficked spot. Participating brands include Chipotle Mexican Grill, Irish Spring, Lowe's, Caesars Entertainment, Microsoft, IE9, and Sony Electronics.
Chipotle will be the official food sponsor of the Discovery Den, creating a nearby hangout in a parking lot dubbed "Chipotle Burrito-Lot." The quick-serve chain has created a special SXSW menu for the occasion. In another example, Irish Spring will use a St. Patrick's Day-themed promotion with a photo booth. St. Patrick's Day falls during the second-to-last day of SXSW.
Meanwhile, competitor Spotify's presence will be sponsored by MSN. From March 12-17, the digital music service's "Spotify House" location will be open to passersby who want to listen to tunes on demo pods, order a Bloody Mary, or get some grub from an on-site taco truck.
On March 15, the company will host a secret show with a lineup of artists that's "unbeatable," according to a prepared statement by Rachel Alvarado, a Spotify events director.
Spotify's also participating in various SXSW Interactive panels and festivities.
Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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