Brands Infiltrate the Digerati Virgin Mobile, NFL teams among unusual attendees at SXSWi
Virgin Mobile usually hits up the SXSW Music festival to scout up-and-coming bands for its Virgin Mobile FreeFest concert or Virgin Mobile Live Radio, "but now the new rock stars are these mobile app developers," Ron Faris, head of brand marketing at Virgin Mobile USA, told me this morning. As part of its larger "Higher Calling" initiative rolled out earlier this week, on Friday (Mar. 9) Virgin Mobile launched its What the App program to spotlight emerging Android app developers on Virginmobilelive.com and other brand outlets.
Anyone who witnessed how Apple's launch of its App Store accelerated iPhone adoption shouldn't be shocked at a cell company would align itself with the mobile app ecosystem, but the fact that Virgin Mobile announced the program at an early-adopter event like SXSWi instead of promoting it in a more consumer-facing fashion might be a little shock. Michael Lazerow, CEO and cofounder of Buddy Media, said there's definitely been a rise in brand marketers attending SXSWi. "Pretty much every one of our big brands [ex. Virgin Mobile] has people here, which didn't happen [before]," he said. "Usually you have social media managers, but now you have people running [brands' marketing departments like Faris in attendance]."
Also in attendance? All 32 NFL teams. Lazerow said he wouldn't have expected that confluence in years past, but the teams met in Austin this week with social marketing experts like the Buddy Media honcho to educate themselves on how to use technology and content to build their business. "They have the best content in the world. You'd think they'd figured it out, but everyone's still learning." One thing brands are learning is how to transform from marketers to media companies. "We think brands need to think in terms of how you build a distribution network to distribute content at scale," Lazerow said.
Facebook's recent changes to its ad offerings put the content-centric approach on blast, but the shift extends further than one social network." Where marketing is moving to is newsroom marketing, which is all about headlines just in time," said Virgin's Faris. "Brands have to stay relevant now, and to keep that conversation going, they have to publish daily." To that end Virgin Mobile is working with social-heavy news site Buzzfeed to help with content created for Virgin Mobile's social outlets. Faris said the decision to partner with Buzzfeed is a change from a "studio-based marketing culture" of one-way, brand-to-consumer messaging to a fast paced environment in which brands must keep up with the rapid pace of consumers' conversations. Faris' team meets every week to go over headlines and content to push to its 18-24-year-old target demo. "We're in like a hardcore training mode right now," he said.
- Would Yahoo or Facebook Make a Better Tumblr Parent?
- Gevalia Aims for a Buzzy Social Partying Weekend
- Meet the Sleepy's Creative Finalists
- Modest Buzz for NewFront Content Based on Social Sharing Data
- Former Publicis COO Richard Pinder on Reimagining Global Networks
- Yahoo Adding Tweets to Homepage
- Embattled Abercrombie CEO Backpedals on Exclusionary Comments
- NBCUniversal Expands Licensing Deal With Amazon
- Goodby, Silverstein Brings the Funny for YouTube's First-Ever Comedy Week
- YouTube Star Tobuscus Forced Into Making Insane Musical Ad for Hot Pockets
- Yahoo in Talks to Acquire Tumblr
- Dumb Ways to Die Is Now a Video Game for the iPhone and iPad
- California Winery's Ads Pair the Product With Sex, Drugs and More Sex
- The Story Behind 'This Is Water,' the Inspiring Video People Can't Stop Watching
- Dove Hires Criminal Sketch Artist to Draw Women as They See Themselves and as Others See Them
- Obscure Direct Response Brands Dominate Facebook Chatter
News, Reporting, Analysis and Photography from SXSW Interactive. Adweek staffers Ki Mae Heussner (@kheussner), Tim Peterson (@petersontee), Mike Shields (@digitalshields), Alfred Maskeroni (@digimatized) on Twitter.