5 Examples of Ineffective Advertising at SXSW

This is a companion post to the one that Lisa wrote about 5 Examples of Effective Advertising at SXSW, because just like a comic book storyline, there is a good and bad side to everything. For every company that got it right, we saw plenty that made us wonder what they were thinking. Here are 5 of the most egregious examples of advertising fails at this year’s SXSW.

Example #1: Paper Clutter

The thing about being at one of the biggest tech conferences in the country, is that it’s rife with early-adopters – the kind of people carrying top-of-the-line smartphones, and well-versed in the newest technology. So why are you still handing out flyers for your new app/start-up/taco party/whatever? As you can see from the photo, paper cluttered the tables, and frankly I was disappointed that there wasn’t more of an effort made to reach out to us in a way that didn’t involve taking out an entire forest in the Pacific Northwest.

Example #2: Girls In Spandex (or Worse)

Putting a flock of “hot” girls in spandex and sending them around to demo your app might seem like a good idea on a college campus, but this is a tech conference. Please do not use the same cheap tactics you deploy on Sophomore frat boys.

Example #3: Superfluous Tech Eye Candy

Yes, QR codes are cool, but they don’t do me a whole lot of good if they are plastered to a coaster without any context. This same rule applies to hashtags and buzzwords – they may be neat, but they aren’t effective at communicating if no one understands them or what they mean.

Example #4: Incomplete Information

We auditioned the new group text application GroupMe, but there was another one vying for attention called Grouped{in}. When one team member went to find a website for it, explaining what it did, she found nothing. Lots of companies beta test or rush to hit the SXSW juggernaut, but it’s not a good idea to send potential new users on a wild goose chase. That’s the quickest way to lose them before they ever buy-in.

Example #5: Themed Lounges

While we get what companies were going for here with their themed lounges, the few scattered chairs and extra plugs actually just wound up looking more like a high school hallway in between classes, with people and papers strewn about. It made it difficult to interact with whatever product the brands were attempting to showcase, and didn’t stand out in the chaos of the Austin Convention Center.

Anyone else who went to SXSW this year, we’d love to hear your thoughts about some of the advertising techniques that could have been better. Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below!

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