GeoMarketing: Mindshare’s Charlie Legg At SxSW: How Retail Can Connect Lifestyle And Tech

By David Kaplan

As SxSW Interactive has wrapped up and while it’s hard to resist the jaded feeling of yet another year of attention-getting, if sometimes impractical, technologies, Charlie Legg, associate director, Planning, for WPP Group’s Mindshare NA, was able to come away with a sense of what is actionable for brands exploring the Internet of Things, virtual reality/augmented reality.

GeoMarketing: What were your expectations for this year’s SXSW?

Charlie Legg: I had established three criteria ahead of my travels to SXSW this year: leave inspired, informed, and more connected to our future.

One trend that I was eager to dive further into is the current state of VR/AR given some of the new platforms on the rise, including Oculus and HoloLens. And naturally, I was also expecting to hear about a wide range consumer behavior as it relates to media, particularly how they engage with the Internet of Things and the world of autonomous living.

How did what you see match those predictions?

To throw out my first cliché of this interview, SXSW “checked all of the boxes.”

One of the first sessions I attended was a keynote session featuring U.S. Senator Cory Booker. I was impressed by his ability to juxtapose his view away from the silos created by political affiliation. He spoke about love, and it being the only battle-tested solution for conquering hate, division, and segregation. It was inspiring and relevant as marketers remain challenged to reach audiences without infringing upon an individual’s personal point of view.

In regards to VR/AR, there was a wealth of opportunities to not only learn more about individual platforms and tech companies, but to demo / engage with them and dive deeper into the practical applications for everyday use. For marketers, the latter in particular is catnip. For example, National Geographic’s Base Camp had great activations that leveraged AR in bringing the imagery that they’re known for to life, and specifically a HoloLens experience that was on theme to promote a new programming initiative.

Another session that I went to focused on binge-watchers and time-shifting, looking at how to attract audiences to new programs and account for the changes in the way people are watching TV and consuming video content. There were some interesting takeaways in regards to the time spent weekly and monthly binge watching shows. And, how individuals seek out content to binge watch that’s familiar to them, often going back to series that they’ve already enjoyed versus trying to find new shows to watch. With that in mind, one of the network executives on this panel talked about their content approach in recycling talent in their shows to draw their viewers into new programs.

And finally, another interesting takeaway was a discussion around how Millennials consume live sports programming. The session indicated that they’re not as likely to watch a sporting event in its entirety; that they’re okay with time shifting as they’re more interested in going back to watch the key highlights / moments in post.

Was there any new startup or technology that particularly impressed you?

Naturally, AI was all the buzz with great perspective shared surrounding the introduction of cognitive systems into our daily lives.

It’s human nature to think of AI in the realm of science fiction, as machines rising up in Terminator movies to take over the world or substituting to human thought. But in today’s reality, these artificial minds are only serving to help us – not “terminate us.”

Many of the sessions I attended spoke to AI as an augmentation to human intelligence, and the systems where this plays into supporting the limitations of the human brain, rather than replacing it. In particular, this came together for me in a presentation delivered by Rob High, CTO of IBM Watson Solutions, who spoke to the technology behind the platform.

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