While most of this week's South by Southwest brand activations are taking place smack dab in downtown Austin, Sour Patch Kids is opening its millennial music house just outside of the festival's main activities in East Austin.
The candy maker's house—dubbed The Patch—is under a one-year lease and serves as a crash pad for up-and-coming artists who Sour Patch Kids has its eye on. In exchange for free lodging, bands who stay mention #AustinPatch on social media. (The brand has a pad in Brooklyn, New York, too.)
One of the first things you see when entering The Patch is a neon light shaped like a Sour Patch Kid. A similar light downstairs spells out the brand's initials, but otherwise the marketer's name is intentionally not splashed all over the house. Instead, signs that read #AustinPatch adorn the walls.
"If we want to connect with teens and millennials, the brand has to take a step back sometimes," explained Sour Patch Kids marketing director Farrah Bezner. "If we stay laser-focused on the bands, [the branding] will come back in the long run. It's about having the right people to stay at the house."
That said, there are, of course, bowls of Sour Patch Kids around the home.
Upstairs, three bedrooms and a couple of small nooks are designed to give artists space to be inspired.
The brand is also working with local artists to furnish and stock the space with things like lip balm, coffee and snacks.
Artists can stay as long or as short as they want. All that Sour Patch Kids asks is that they are courteous to neighbors, not use drugs or smoke, and only bring approved guests over.
The Mondelez-owned candy maker is also amping up its social media content through The Patch. Artists are encouraged to tag Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr posts with the hashtag #AustinPatch. To further emphasize the social push, decals of Twitter handles and hashtags are printed on the walls.
The musical duo Kane Holler (made up of Steven Tyler's daughter Chelsea Tyler and Jon Foster) are currently staying at The Patch and hosted a private concert yesterday. DJ Ryan Hemsworth will perform on March 17, and Allan Kingdom plays on March 21.