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SXSW Interactive 2015:
The Marketers Survival Guide

I. Who Will Be at SXSW?

  • Keynote Speakers and Performers
  • Brands and CMOs
  • Media Tech Companies
  • Journalists and Bloggers
  • Women Leading the Way

II. Where Will They Be?

  • Calendar* with RSVP Information (Including: Top parties and Events)
    * Wired and Neiman Marcus parties to be added soon

III. Where to Eat, Drink, Meet, Exercise and More

The SXSW Interactive Festival provides five days of keynote presentations, panel sessions, book readings, meetups, workshops, and core conversations that provide hands-on training, big-picture analyses, a Trade Show, an array of awards/events and hands-on gaming fun at the Gaming Expo. The event producers also make it easy for badge holders to create their own official schedule as well as tap into the social networking site to try and connect with the best the week has to offer.

What’s not so easy is taking the time to do this. This guide is a “cheat sheet” to help marketers make the most of the festival across official and unofficial events.

Who Will Be at SXSW?

For marketers interested in hearing and interacting with the best keynotes, brands and peers, the keynote sessions, The CMO Clubhouse activation, Brand Innovators and IAB Brunch, major sponsor activations and The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Gannett and Neiman Marcus events are top of list.

This year’s opening night music party at the Moody Theater features Spoon, a surprise A-List performance at The CMO Clubhouse and GSD&M’s Annual Monday night music party — the big performance draws.

Check out this list of “5 Women to Know at SXSW” featuring our own Lana McGilvray.

To learn more about any of these events, send us an email or take a look at which brands will be at which activations in the day-by-day calendar below.

A short break down of some of the top brands, media tech companies and agencies attending:

  • Brands: Alex and Ani, At Home, BeeSweet Lemonade, Belkin International, Bosch NA,  Coca-Cola, Crowdtap, Dell, eSurance, IBM, Kellogg’s, Kimberly-Clark, King’s Hawaiian, Mondelez, Office Depot, Omni Hotel and Resorts, Opera Mediaworks, Oracle, Patron, SAP, Verizon, Visa and Walgreens (more brands and speakers: Russell Wager, VP of Marketing, Mazada, Ken Bracht, Communication Manager, Jaguar/Land Rover, Michael Deitz, Sr. Group Manager Connect Car and Owner Marketing, Hyundai NA, Tom Bick, Sr. Director Marketing, Kraft, Logan Green, Lyft, Hayley Barna, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Birchbox, Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer and GM, General Electric, Corey Bergman, GM Breaking News, MSNBC, Mikala Bierma, Assoc Creative Dir, BuzzFeed, Art Briles, Head Football Coach, Baylor University, Linda Boff, Global Exec, GE Corporate, Julie Bornstein, Chief Marketing Officer, Sephora, Ken Bracht, Communication Mgr, Jaguar, Erika Brookes, VP of Oracle Social Cloud, Paul Brunson, TV Personality/Life Coach/Matchmaker, Chris Bruzzo, CMO, EA, Jamie Carlin, Dir of Mktg, TX Motor Speedway, Marie Donoghue, SVP, Global Strategy & Business Dev, ESPN, Pat Donahue, Dir Digital Media, LA Kings Hockey Club, Kalia Garrison, Sr Product Marketer, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Kimberly Gnatt, Global Group Dir Digital Mktg, The Coca-Cola Company, Phil Gomes, SR VP, Edelman, Traug Keller, SCP, Production, Business Divisions, ESPN, Alex Kisch, EVP Biz Dev & Affiars, VEVO, Amanda Kludt, EIC, Eater, Scott Lange, Creative Dir Midwest, Google, Danika Laszuk, VP of Marketing, Jawbone, Rob Laycock,VP of Mktg, Indiana Pacers, Meredith Kopit Levien, EVP of Advertising, The NY Times, , Michelle Lapierre, Sr. Dir Customer Experience, Marriott Rewards, Brandon Little, CCO, Fossil, Sandra Lopez,, Director of Wearables, Intel Corporation, William Mao, Head of College Sports Partnership, YouTube, Christian Martinez, Head of US Multicultural Sales, Facebook, Perkins Miller, Chief Digital Officer, NFL Media, William Mao, Head of College Sports Partnerships, YouTube, David Min, VP Strategic Biz Innovation, The Walt Disney Co., Erik Natzke, Principal Designer, Adobe Systems Inc., Kyle Nel, VP Head of Innovation Labs, Lowe, Dao Ngugyen, Publisher, BuzzFeed, Hai Nguyen, Creative Tech Lead, Google, Shana Opperman, Producer, Google, Jude Ower, Founder/CEO, PlayMob , Haile Owusu, Chief Data Scientist, Mashable, Ryan Panchadsaram, US Deputy CTO, The White House, Greg Pharo, Dir. Market Research & Analysis, AT&T Mobility, David Polinchock, Director of Marketing, AT&T, Ari Popper, CEO & Founder, SciFutures, Jane Randel, NO MORE, Mike Raspatello, Digital Innovation Mgr, Anheuser-Busch, Michael Rocha, Dir. of Content Services, Panasonic, Beth Rockwood, SVP Market Resources, Discovery Comm, Jay B Rogers Jr, CEO & Co-Founder, Local Motors Inc., Scott Rosenberg, VP Biz Dev, Roku, Andrew Rosenthal, Group Mgr, Jawbone, Peter Roybal, Head of Mobile Product, ABC News, David Rubin, Head of Brand, Pinterest, Meghan Ryan, Social Media Mgr, Boston Red Sox, Deion Sanders, National Football League, Peter Scott, VP of Emerging Media, Turner, Lisa Pike Sheehy, Dir. of Global Envir. Initiatives, Patagonia, Morgan Sword, VP League Economics/Strategy, MLB, Mike Thelin, Feast Portland, John Thomas, Creative Director, Groupon, Jason Verrett, NFL Player, San Diego Chargers, Ajay Waghray, Mobile Prod Mgr, HomeAway, Eric Weinberger, Exec Producer, NFL Network, Edward Wild, Sr. Dir. Analytics, PepsiCo)
  • Agencies: Blast Public Relations, GSD&M, OMD, Sanders Wingo
  • Media Tech Companies: Dstillery, Contently, CPXi,  G/O Digital, Hipchat, Multiview, OneSpot, Opera Mediaworks, PostUp, RealMassive
  • Membership Organizations: Interactive Advertising Bureau, The CMO Club
  • Journalists and Bloggers: Ad Age, AdWeek, Gannett, Re/code, USA Today, New York Times Magazine, SheKnows, Wired, WSJ – CMO Today (more: Corey Bergman, GM Breaking News, MSNBC, Nellie Bowles, Reporter, Re/code, Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor, AP, Michelle Castillo, Adweek, Chris Heine, AdWeek, Eva Chen, Lucky/Conde Nast, Leah Chernikoff, Editor,, Elizabeth Caudle, East Coast Regional Dir, Girls Who Code, Carmel DeAmicis, GigaOm, Susan Etlinger, Altimeter, Leigh Gallagher, Asst. Managing Editor, Fortune, Bob Garfield, Columnist/NPR Hots, MediaPost, Michael Gorman, EIC, Engadget, Anthony Ha, Writer, TechCrunch, Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab, Peter Kafka, Senior Editor, Re/code, Allison Lichter, Social Media Editor, WSJ, Linda Lacina, Special Reports Editor, Entrepreneur, Jessica Lawrence, NY Tech MeetUps, Angela Matusik, Exec. Editor, InStyle Magazine, Haile Owusu, Chief Data Scientist, Mashable, David Robson, Feature Writer, BBC Future, Michael Roston, Staff Editor Social Media, NYT, Peter Roybal, Head of Mobile Product, ABC News, David Rubin, Head of Brand, Pinterest, Meghan Ryan, Social Media Mgr., Boston Red Sox, Mia Saini, TV Reporter, Bloomberg TV, Keith Sharman, Producer, CBS News, Mike Shields, WSJ, Owen Thomas, EIC, ReadWriteWeb)

Where Will They Be?

For many, SXSW begins during Capital Factory’s famed Pre-SXSW Startup Crawl on Thursday, March 12, and wraps on Monday night when GSD&M’s Annual Music party bids everyone farewell with a song. The meatiest “marketing” days are in between when The CMO Clubhouse moves in for a three day lounge activation, ensuring that brand CMOs have a private area to meet, network with one another, get custom content and experience the best entertainment.

SXSW-CMO Clubhouse

Thursday, March 12, 5-10pm

Capital Factory’s Pre-SXSW Startup Crawl Presented by HipChat*
Join over 50 companies and 24,000 crawlers as they take to the best venues for innovation and entrepreneurial networking.

This year’s must-attend is RealMassive’s Parkside Rooftop party at Parkside. Don’t forget to stop by!

Friday, March 13 Highlights and Recommendations

  • SXSW Keynote: Paola Antonelli, MoMA
  • 10am: Gigya Grill, El Sol y La Luna, 600 E. 6th Street
  • 11am: PayPal Social Media Lounge, Austin Convention Center
  • 10:45am-6pm: Brand Innovators & Mondelez How to Be a Change Agent Activation at Lambert’s Barbeque — This event is a must stop for serious marketers and features an amazing array of speakers on Friday, including top digital marketers from Alex and Ani, Altimeter, Bosch NA, Coca-Cola, Crowdtap, Dstillery, IBM Social Business, Kellogg’s, King’s Hawaiian, Mondelez, Opera Mediaworks, Verizon, Visa and Walgreens.
  • Opening Night Music Concert Featuring Spoon (Invite Only: Contact [email protected] for more information)
  • 5:30-8:30pm: OneSpot’s SXSW Kickoff Happy Hour, Maggie Mae’s, 323 6th Street
  • New York Times Magazine Design Launch Party! (Invite only: Contact [email protected]) at the Mohawk in Austin, TX. There will be a music performances by The Suffers and Dan Deacon and food by Shake Shack.

Spoon SXSW

Saturday, March 14 Highlights and Recommendations

  • SXSW Keynote: Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud, Alfa Intl
  • Noon – 7pm: The CMO Clubhouse Opens! — A two day oasis for CMOS and heads of marketing to improve their SXSW experience, build real relationships with peers, host their own meetings and be part of some incredible CMO moments. Saturday highlights include:
    • CMO Club TV Tapings: Top CMOs and Experts Share “CMO Worthy” Go To Tips and Lessons Learned
    • CMOs Unplugged: “Multi-Device Intelligence – What’s Real” with Dstillery and Kimberly-Clark
    • Startup Pitch Contest Judged by Eliza Esquivel, Head of Global Brand Strategy, Mondelez, Kieran Hannon, CMO, Belkin International, Jennifer Warren, CMO, At Home, Karen Quintos, CMO, Dell
    • CMOs Unplugged: “Innovation in Payment Ecosystems” conversation with Visa
    • CMO Club Cocktail Reception and CMO Innovation Labs
      Surprise Musical Performance
  • 3:30pm: Contently House — Featuring G/O Digital CMO Jeff Fagel
  • 5:00pm – 6:00pm: She’s a C-Word featuring Re/Code, BlogHer, Pandora and Lyft, JW Marriott, 110 E. 2nd St.

Sunday, March 15 Highlights and Recommendations

  • SXSW Keynote: Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics
  • 9am-1pm: Interactive Advertising Bureau Sunday Brunch, at Annies on Congress Avenue (Invite only: For more information contact [email protected])
  • 9am-4pm: Gannett USA Today RoundUp at Searsucker, Colorado Street
  • Noon – 7pm: The CMO Clubhouse — A two day oasis for CMOS and heads of marketing to improve their SXSW experience, build real relationships with peers, host their own meetings and be part of some incredible CMO moments. Sunday highlights include:
    • CMO Club TV Tapings: Top CMOs and Experts Share “CMO Worthy” Go To Tips and Lessons Learned
    • CMOs Unplugged: “Innovation in PR”
    • Startup Pitch Contest Judged by: Lee Applbaum, CMO, Patron Spirits, Allan Gellman, CMO, eSurance, Megan Lueders, CMO, Lifesize, Tom Santora, CMO, Omni Hotels and Resorts,
      CMOs Unplugged: “Creation – Check, Distribution – Check, What’s Next for Content” with SAP and OneSpot
    • CMO Club Cocktail Reception and CMO Innovation Labs
    • Surprise Musical Performance
  • 3-7pm: PostUp and ReturnPath Email & Interactive Happy Hour at Pesce

Monday, March 16 Highlights and Recommendations

Tuesday, March 17 Highlights and Recommendations

  • 12:30pm – 1:30 pm: How We Shop: The Customization of Curation @JW Marriott: Featuring eBay, Ideo, StyleCaster — From storefronts, to desktops, to the smartphone in your pocket, the future of shopping will offer endless possibilities to discover, browse and buy. With shoppers able to indulge anywhere and anytime, the challenge is to curate an experience that is personalized, engaging and intuitive. This panel brings together a select group of commerce experts – from one of Fast Company’s 2014 Most Creative People in Business to eBay’s VP of Design and former Creative Director for the Apple Online Store – to break down the art and science of curation. Learn how to engage consumers through storytelling and the keys to creating personalized experiences across devices and platforms.
    • Dave Lippman, VP Design/Exec Creative Dir, eBay
    • Michael Phillips Moskowitz, Chief Curator & Editorial Dir, eBay Inc
    • Fred Dust, Partner, Ideo
    • Laurel Pinson, Editor in Chief, StyleCaster


Where to Eat, Drink, Meet, Exercise and More

Eats and Drinks

Austin is well known for its Tex-Mex and Bar-B-Q. But recently, we’ve experienced a culinary explosion. Here’s a list of favorites to choose from…


New School – La Condesa – Fancy Mexican in the heart of the hip ‘Second Street’ district, which is also referred to as “Little Dallas.” Great open-air bar with a corresponding upstairs bar that is easy to book for events..

Old-School – Polvos – Great Mexican with a true Austin vibe that can be best realized with a Mexican “Martini” or Margarita (South Austin)


  • New School – Lambert’s – The best late-night bar-b-q with great bands upstairs (factoid – It’s in the old historic venue once occupied by the much beloved Liberty Lunch music venue)
  • Old School – The Green Mesquite on Barton Springs, Stubbs On Red River or Iron Works (right next door to the convention center)

Downtown by Type

(FYI – For Brunch – Trio, Lamberts’ and Moonshine are typically great options)

  • Bess – eclectic bistro owned by Sandra Bullock
  • Second – A fabulous restaurant and bar with great food and indoor, outdoor space on Congress Avenue at the bottom of the Austonion building. Directly next door is one of the best fine dining restaurants in the country, Congress, and in the middle a tiny, hip bar- Bar Congress.
  • Trio (near the convention center) – restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel (drinks in their lobby is much more fun)
  • Parkside (near the convention center)- eclectic, hip, fun
  • Malaga – Spanish tapas (close to the W Hotel)
  • La Condesa – upscale Mexican
  • Chez Nous – French
  • Lambert’s – Upscale Bar-B-Q
  • Eddie Vs – Seafood
  • The Roaring Fork at the Stephen F. Austin (Downtown) – Steak
  • Maiko – Japanese
  • Moonshine (near the convention center) – Eclectic, higher-end comfort food served within one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Austin. Very close to the convention center with outdoor/indoor seating.

The restaurants at the Driskill hotel, The W, The Four Seasons (above) and Stephen F. Austin are great too…

Downtown Cocktails

  • Anywhere on Rainey Street
  • Bar Congress & Second (Congress Street- the small bar adjoining the Congress Restaurant and 2nd – its other restaurant)
  • La Condesa
  • Midnight Cowboy (requires reservation)
  • The Lounge at the Four Seasons (near the convention center) aka “Austin’s Living Room”
  • W Hotel (numerous bars) Popular but much like the W bars in any other city. There’s not really anything “Austin” about them.

Eastside Cocktails (the late night scene side of town)

  • East Side Showroom
  • Justine’s (it’s a hike but worth it)

South Congress/South First Eats and Drinks

  • Perla’s Seafood (If you are going to the “Continental Club” for live music or staying at the San Jose and/or the St. Cecilia, you don’t even need to go downtown)
  • Vespaio (Italian) or its sister café next-door, Enoteca (more casual) See rationale above
  • Uchi (South Austin) or Uchiko, (North Austin) two of the finest Japanese restaurants in the country
  • The bar at St. Cecilia (itch – you must be with a hotel guest)
  • Lucy’s Fried Chicken – It’s amazing
  • Olivia – Amazing eclectic fare from the farm to the table
  • The Elizabeth Street Café  – Vietnamese
  • Lenoir  – French

Top Hotels

  • Hotel St. Cecilia (Amazing)
  • San Jose
  • Four Seasons
  • Kimber Modern
  • The W
  • Austin Motel (you are on a budget and want Austin funk)
  • Stephen F. Austin
  • Driskill

*If you are bringing in clients and a round of golf is in order, book rooms at the Barton Creek Resort & Spa and set up your tee times.

**As Austin is still 1400 or so hotel rooms short of capacity, AirBNB and HomeAway are very popular housing options during this busy time of year.

Music Clubs

  • Stubbs – Big shows ranging from Spoon to Gary Clark Jr. to Wilco to Patti Smith. Great gospel brunch on Sundays
  • The Mohawk – The “it” club for alternative
  • The Historic Victory Grill – Off the beaten path, but has a speakeasy back room that attracts great soul and jazz
  • The Elephant Room – So Austin- such great jazz.
  • The Continental Club – The granddaddy of local music venues. Go!
  • Saxon Pub – Great shows.

Check out the Austin Chronicle Music Listings – our free weekly for great recommendations. There are hundreds of live music shows each week. The editors’ picks are usually spot on as well. And, unlike other cities, there is usually NOT a door or capacity issue, until SXSW music begins. It’s still a good idea to call ahead and/or reserve a seat if you can.

Fitness Fixes

Austin is a wonderland for fitness enthusiasts, especially in March when the weather is usually at its best.


Visit Zilker Park if you have children or just want to hang out, wander around and/or go for a run. They have a large park and train that transports children around part of the famous Lady Bird Lake hiking trail. It’s very safe and just next door to Barton Springs. There are restaurants within walking distance. It’s a great hour or half-day adventure, hot or cold (it’s often hot). For $3 you can swim at Barton Springs, our natural swimming hole, year round.


Run around Lady Bird Lake “Hike and Bike” trail which separates “North” Austin from “South” Austin and is central to most hotels. You can run 3-13 miles around the lake. It’s beautiful- you’ll see the city and there are multiple watering holes and restrooms along the way.

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Climbing

Hike our Greenbelt while you are here. There are 13 miles (or maybe even more) of creekside trails “underneath” the city and tons of hiking, biking and climbing spots throughout. If you don’t have equipment, REI (located near the flagship Whole Foods) rents it!

Hike or Bike Mt. Bonnell Road!

Road Biking

This is a bike city but not so easy to bike. It’s a little easier due to the installment of new bikeways. But, you need to know where to go to be safe. I would suggest you call…

Mellow Johnny’s And sign up for a morning ride with dozens. You’ll enjoy it.

Jack & Adam’s Bicycles Also has group rides and is owned by two of the nicest guys in town.

Daily Kayaking or Paddle Boating

The docks down at Ladybird Lake. There is also another private boat rental on the shore of the Hyatt Regency, which is very convenient and accessible.


Austin has dozens of natural swimming holes and lap swimming pools that are available for many hours (some year round and heated). Certain pools are available to use for free. Others are accessible for $3.


  • Black Swan Yoga
  • East Side Yoga
  • Wanderlust…also
  • Yoga Yoga

Retail Therapy

The Norm

  • Whole Foods
  • REI
  • Anthropologie …all located next to one another

The Best

  • Books: BookPeople
  • Music: Waterloo Records
  • Men’s Clothing: (Tie) Stag or Service Menswear (both on South Congress)
  • Women’s Clothing for the Serious Collector: Blackmail (South Congress: Ring and do not take photos without asking) and By George (The N. Lamar location – don’t be fooled)
  • Women’s Clothing for the Whimsical Shopper: (Think “I just need a cute dress for the day or this evening”) Maya Star (on South Congress)

Cowboy Boots: Allen’s Boots
Hair Salon: Pink
Make-Up: Rae Cosmetics