The Best Agency SXSW Initiatives

This story is part of Digiday’s coverage of the SXSW Interactive Festival. Sponsored by Centro, a provider of media services and software that aims to improve campaign performance and digital media teams’ productivity.

This year’s SXSW Interactive festival is almost upon us, and tens of thousands of digital enthusiasts and technologists will soon descend upon Austin for five days of panel sessions, parties and breakfast tacos. Digital agencies will be there in force, once again, as they attempt to demonstrate to clients that they’re on the bleeding edge of technology and digital culture.

Most agencies will host invite-only parties, or at least schmooze clients with dinner and drinks receptions, but some go a little further and whip up products, contests, and public events to capitalize on the buzz around the city for the next five days. Here are some of this year’s most interesting agency offerings:

JWT’s “pop-up” agency
A collection of creatives and strategists from JWT companies will form a “pop-up agency” at this year’s festival. The plan is to select two startups from a total of 25 entries and to leave them after five days with strategic plans, media strategies and creative samples ready to be adapted and executed. What’s in it for JWT? The chance to demonstrate their ability to “Think big, act small, invent new ideas,” according to JWT Atlanta CCO Perry Fair, who’s heading the initiative. Startups interested in Walter’s services can apply at

R/GA’s Plan B web app
In order to help people formulate back-up plans more easily, R/GA has created a responsive web app called “Plan B,” which promises to use geolocation data to supply users with a list of nearby, hand-picked panels to check out if their chosen session is full. Better yet, the agency says it’ll work at night, too, in case they’re short of a party to gatecrash.

Ogilvy’s photo contest
Social@Ogilvy has teamed up with mobile app platform Chute to create a user-generated photo contest. The contest will encourage users to share the festival’s best moments by tagging their Instagram photos with the #DOSXSW tag, which will then be featured on and on a dedicated channel on BuzzFeed. One winner per day will win a $200 gift card, as chosen by a panel of Ogilvy and BuzzFeed judges, but the real intention is to document the festival through imagery as it unfolds, the companies said.

The Barbarian Group’s “No Way Back” Party
Now somewhat of a SXSW institution, The Barbarian Group will once again host its “No Way Back” party at The Mohawk and Club DeVille on Monday. Open to the public, it’ll feature performances from a range of bands and DJs, including Neon Indian, Surfer Blood and Divine Fits.

Mister Face’s comedy show
Comedy-driven content agency Mister Face plans to offer a reprieve from the world of technology on Monday with an afternoon of free comedy from The Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

GSPhotography /

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