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SXSW Is Now A Tech AND Brand Event

sxswMany old-timers lamented the growth and so-called “invasion” of big brands of the popular South By Southwest (#SXSW) digital/music/film event this month in Austin, TX.   Several TopRight clients were part of it, including #PBSEverywhere with a cookie monster photo booth and LoudFund (@ohmyloud) with a week of musical acts.    If you had a chance to “meet” Ava (the ExMachina movie promo that caused a stir on Tumblr) or send/watch live video tweeting via Meerkat then you likely felt like a big part of the action.

Indeed, it seems at least one big brand adopted the event’s legendary tech start-up moxie to launch a new business commitment.

Visa made a splash this week by spending big to release a new “Everywhere Initiative” marketing platform designed to help startups promote  Visa payments products and broaden its appeal with millennials. The company also renewed its NFL sponsorship, bringing league stars to various venues.

Visa plans on staying close: Announcing it will be hiring 500 engineers in Austin this year, Antonio Lucio, global CMO of Visa, told Ad Age,  “Most people don’t see Visa as a technology company.  Our vision is to open the fences of our system to make sure more developers can use Visa to generate the next generation of mobile payments.”

This is a tech story that even SXSW die-hards can appreciate:

  • Digital spending.  Visa moves 46% of its ad dollars through digital channels,  and expects that to grow to 50% by year end, Mr. Lucio said.
  • Integrated media.  Visa hinted this week that we can expect to see a digital component to its SuperBowl and NFL sponsorships.
  • IoT.  Visa hopes that integrating digital payments into the Internet of Things will increase market share.  Think about ordering coffee, wine or soap from your smart appliance, or even using your stadium seat armrest at the big game to have a few dogs and a beer delivered.

Visa certainly picked a venue unusual for financial services companies to make this commitment to work with tech innovators – demonstrating their willingness to engage in unlimited thinking.  We blogged earlier this year about how putting limits on creativity leads to limited thinking.  This kind of connected and outside-the-box approach is a good way to engage customers in new ways and move your business to the #TopRight of ever-changing markets.

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