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The Best of SXSW for CMOs and Senior Marketing Executives
Badge Discounts, Invite-Only Event, Party Access and Free Uber Rides!

As always, cutting through the chaff of SXSW’s “official” and “unofficial” content sessions and never-ending parties while managing crowds and simply trying to get around, exercise or, goodness forbid have a little fun while exploring Austin, is always challenging.

This year, Blast coordinated with Altimeter Group, Capital Factory, Interactive Advertising Bureau, SXSW, The CMO Club and Uber to develop our Survival Guide recommendations. This strengthens the content and also allows us to offer qualified CMOs and senior marketing executives with:

SXSW Badge Discounts
The CMO Club House Access
Day 1 After-Party Access
VIP Uber Service
Capital Factory Office Space
SXSW Session and Event Recommendations
Invite-Only Party Access
Local Restaurant, Bar, Lifestyle, Transportation and Entertainment Listings

SXSW Badge Discounts and The CMO Club House Access
First things first, if you are a CMO or Senior Marketing Executive and plan to be at SXSW, please contact us right away if you are interested in a SXSW badge discount or registering to participate in any of The CMO Club House breakfasts, content, networking and/or happy hour events. A full matrix of events will soon be added to this guide. The CMO Club House is in a private location just blocks away from the Austin Convention center and in the heart of the festival. It’s the perfect place for CMOs and senior marketing executives to network and lounge while they travel to and from meetings and official SXSW content sessions and workshops. This year, Altimeter Group, Blast, Capital Factory, IBM, Kicking Cow, MediaMath, PlaceIQ and Oracle have all partnered with The CMO Club to ensure that the attendee experience is outstanding.

Day 1 After-Party Access and VIP Uber Service
Several Blast clients including AdColony and Umbel have also partnered with each other and Uber to help all SXSW Interactive attendees to unwind at a Day 1 after-party at Austin City Limits. Event co-sponsors include Warner Bros. and Vox Media. VIPs will be treated to free Uber car service to and from the venue c/o several underwriting sponsors. AdColony also has a few unique surprises that festival attendees will surely take note of as the wander the already wonderfully “weird” streets of Austin.

Capital Factory Office Space
Los Angeles headquartered AdColony is one of many companies that is “moving to Austin” from March 7-11, where they will temporarily office at Capital Factory, Austin’s well known technology incubator. CMOs will also get exposed to Capital Factory when 5-10 start-ups that CMOs choose to pitch to head over to The CMO Club House to give it their best shot! Winners will receive CMO Choice recognition!

This year’s Interactive portion of the Festival takes place over five days, beginning on Friday, March 7th and wrapping up on the11th. While everything may sound exciting upon first read, our suggestion is to mix it up by weaving in official and unofficial sessions and a little R&R with your peers and new friends.

Below are the content sessions and digital industry parties that are currently generating the most buzz. We’ve called out those we deem senior marketing executive worthy each day as well as those that Blast is helping produce, including Uber’s opening night party at Austin City Limits, The CMO Club House and the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Networking Brunch.

Friday, March 7
The CMO Club House officially opens on Saturday, March 8th with a brunch where visiting CMOs will be provided with a personal lay of the land and tips to ensure their experience is amazing.

However, for those arriving early, The CMO Club partnered with Blast and Umbel to provide CMOs with VIP access to Umbel’s opening night party at Austin City Limits! During the event, CMOs will be able to enjoy the show in a private, catered area with bar service and more.

On Friday, we also recommend the following sessions, events and parties. Carve out the program that works best for you. Visit the SXSW Interactive calendar for precise venue and badge information.

11:00am, AT&T Conference Center
OMMA: Should Brands Be Part of the Real-Time Convo?
Since that famous “Oreo Moment” that turned a Super Bowl blackout into a dubious marketing trend…

Presenters: Bryan Jones, VP Marketing North America, Dell and Natanya Anderson
Director Social Media & Integrated Marketing, Whole Foods Market

3:30pm, AT&T Conference Center
Why Content + Scale = A Win for Game Advertising
Gaming is an advertising medium which is driven by engaging content and cross-platform solutions, and increasingly, brands are taking notice with higher advertising spend across console, social and mobile. During this informative and fun session, you will learn the latest statistics from newly released, updated Nielsen research including trends on who is playing, where they’re playing and when they’re playing. You will also see video case studies and insights into two IAB MIXX Award winning examples of advertising on games…

Presenters: David Berkowitz, CMO, MRY, Jack Koch, Director, Global Marketing Insights, Electronic Arts (EA), Michael Flamberg, VP/General Manager – Nielsen Games and Susan Borst, Director, Industry Initiatives for Social Media, Content Marketing, Native Advertising, Games & B2B, IAB

5:00pm, AT&T Conference Center
OMMA: The Best Mobile Ad Campaigns You Haven’t Seen
It is not just app ads and direct marketing come ons. Mobile has already generated some wildly creative uses of the small screen and mobile technology’s unique attributes. We ask senior mobile ad execs to show us campaigns for a rival agency they wish they had done…

Presenters: Rob Griffin, EVP, Global Director of Product Development, Havas Media and Webster Lewin, SVP, Director of Mobility, Starcom MediaVest Group

5:00pm, Driskill Hotel
Brands Can Champion the Power of Sport
Brands want to be loved. Sport enhances the lives of individuals, communities, countries and the entire world. From a brand perspective, the passion that consumers have for sport represents one of the most underutilized raw materials in marketing…

Presenter: Simon Wardle, Chief Strategy Officer, Octagon Inc.

7:00pm, Austin City Limits!
Umbel’s Opening Night Party
On Friday evening, Umbel will help SXSW Interactive attendees and CMOs celebrate their first successful day of the festival. The event is open to all SXSW badge holders. There is also a special VIP area for CMOS, supported by Umbel’s partnership with Blast and The CMO Club. For more information, please send us an email.

Other Friday Parties
8:00pm, Empire Control Room
Do512’s Epic Interactive SXSW Party

Saturday, March 8
The CMO Club House officially opens this morning with a brunch where visiting CMOs will be provided with a personal lay of the land and tips to ensure their experience is amazing.

From Saturday-Wednesday, The CMO Club has worked hard to ensure that CMOs that spend time at The CMO Club have access to a rich calendar of content, networking and entertainment. While CMOs could literally spend all day at The CMO Club house, we realize that SXSW also offers sessions and events of interest. On Saturday, our top picks are below. We will review all this with you when you attend the morning brunch. In fact, we’ll have copies of this for you to bring with you as you create your own SXSW experience!

9:30-10:30am, Hilton Downtown
How to Monetize the 2nd Screen Evolution
Watching TV with a 2nd screen has become a way of life for the avid media consumer. Find out how TV networks, brands and 3rd party apps are profiting from this evolving consumer experience. What impact does 2nd screen have across subscription-based businesses, advertising, virtual currency, sponsorships and e-commerce? Where are the players in this space seeing the ROI? Learn from second screen case studies…

Presenters: Gregory Consiglio, President and COO at Viggle and Jesse Redniss, Chief Strategy Officer, Mass Relevance

12:30pm, Austin Convention Center
Media & The Personal Brand – ESPN, Grantland & 538
ESPN launched Grantland based on the writings and vision of Bill Simmons. The company recently hired Nate Silver and acquired his site, FiveThirtyEight. As a company known for sports, Simmons and Silver will discuss their personal brands and how ESPN cultivates independent voices under its broader umbrella brand…

Presenters: Bill Simmons, Editor-in-Chief, Grantland and Nate Silver, Editor-in-Chief,

12:30pm, Wanderlust
Location Based Marketing: Beyond Advertising
Harness the power of mobile location without causing your customers to scream, “Don’t advertaze me bro!” Hear how leaders are using location data to move beyond the geofence…

Presenters: Asif Khan, Founder & President, The LBMA, James Keller, Mobile User Experience, WalmartLabs and Michael Richardson, Team Lead, Urban Airship

3:30pm, Holiday Inn Town Lake
Trustparency Study: How to Build Natural Brands
In an increasingly collaborative world, consumers are not only more powerful, but increasingly skeptical and demanding – continually questioning and rethinking their relationships with brands. In order to investigate such an emotional subject, DRAFTFCB has developed a neuroscience-based study to understand how to encourage a more real and open dialogue between brands and consumers. Find out more…

Presenters: Lia Bertoni, Strategic Planner, Giovanni+Draftfcb and Pedro Cruz, COO, Giovanni Draftfcb Brazil

4:00pm, CMO Happy Hour at The CMO Club House and More
Members of The CMO Club will receive full details about all programming to support their onsite experience.

Other Saturday Night Parties
6:00-8:00pm, Wanderlust
Urban Airship’s Best of Mobile Brands Party
Bringing together a full day of award-winning speakers from the worlds biggest brands to share their winning mobile strategies. Hosted by Urban Airship

8:00pm, The Hangar Lounge-318 Colorado St.
Deloitte SXSW Party
About: Create new party possibilities with Deloitte at the Hangar Lounge in downtown Austin. It’s a night of free drinks, bands and more. Space is extremely limited so RSVP now: #DeloitteSXSW

12:00-2:00am Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel-Stephen F’s Bar
SXSW Late Night Saloon
Wanting to unwind after hitting the nightly parties or spending the day in the theaters? Swing back by the InterContinental Bar to check in on the action.


Sunday, March 9
The CMO Club House’s second full day of programming will begin with another brunch and end with an official Taste of Austin happy hour featuring entertainment from Austin musician Erin Ivey and more! Beyond our official programming, you may also be interested in:

9:00am-12:00pm, Brazos Hall Upstairs Deck
IAB’s Annual SXSW Networking Brunch
This is an invite-only event for IAB members and industry friends. Good people, good food and plenty of coffee! Pre-registration is required. If interested in attending, please email [email protected]

9:30am, Hilton Austin Downtown
The Future of Marketing: Advocacy
Research from Forrester and Edelman’s trust barometer has shown that customers will trust peers or a company’s employees for advice on their next purchases far more than advertisements or direct marketing. Learn the strategies behind developing a successful employee & customer advocacy program and hear real world examples of how advocacy can play a vital role in your marketing plan…

Presenters: Jim Larrison, GM Corporate Development, Dynamic Signal

12:30pm, Radisson Town Lake
Sharknado & Twitter: The Perfect Social Storm
It was the social media event of the summer, at one point generating 5k tweets per minute, but how the hell did that happen? For the first time Syfy and Twitter come together to present how, through the power of Twitter, Sharknado went from campy film to cultural phenomenon…

Presenters: Dana Ortiz, Vice President of Brand Marketing, NBC Universal/Syfy and , Fred Graver, Head of TV, Twitter

4:00pm, The CMO Club House
Happy Hour + Altimeter Group One-on-One Interviews with Top Executives

5:00pm, The CMO Club House
Taste of Austin Happy Hour and Performance by Erin Ivey

Other Sunday Parties
7:00-10:00pm, Palm Door
SXSW Film + Interactive Fusion Party presented by the Associated Press

8:00-11:00pm, Buffalo Billiards
SXsports Overtime Party presented by Fox Sports

9:00-11:00pm, The Parish
SapientNitro Party

Monday, March 10
The CMO Club House’s third full day of programming will begin with another brunch and end with another happy hour. Each day, attendees will also enjoy the opportunity to listen to Altimeter expert interviews, participate in peer roundtables and participate in CMO Club TV interviews. Beyond our official programming, you may also be interested in:

12:30pm, Hyatt Regency
Wearables: The New Marketers’ Challenge
Wearable tech is a $3-$5 bil market, but in the next 2 years it may reach $30-$50 bil. All the leading players are racing to the finish line, but will wearables live up to expectations? With this new audience comes opportunities for marketers to engage and reach connected consumers. Join us as we debate how wearables will change lives or if this fad will quickly fade…

Presenters: David Rosales, Co Founder & CTO, MetaWatch, VP of Business Development, Distimo, Krishna Subramanian, Co-Founder, Mobclix and Soulaiman Itani, CEO & Founder, Atheer

5:00pm, Sheraton Austin
Using Consumer-Generated Content to Fuel Campaigns
Finding unique ways to leverage these consumer conversations into marketing strategies is essential, and integrating user-generated content is an important component of brand building…

Presenters: Justin Garrity, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing for TigerLogic, and Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Digital Brand Architects

4:00pm, The CMO Club House
Happy Hour + Altimeter Group One-on-One Interviews with Top Executives

Other Monday Parties

12:00-2:00pm, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel-Stephen F’s Bar
SXSW Late Night Saloon

12:00-6:00pm, Pelons & Tequila 508

12:00pm-2:00am, The Bungalow
MediaCamp with Turner/Warner Bros.
12:00 – 2:00 PM Women in Technology Luncheon
2:00 – 4:30 PM Media Camp Networking / Alumni Demos
5:00 – 7:00 PM Closed for Private Event
8:00 PM – 2:00 AM Party with Live Music

Tuesday, March 11
The CMO Club House’s fourth and final full day of programming begins with another brunch and ends with another happy hour. Each day, attendees will also enjoy the opportunity to listen to Altimeter expert interviews, participate in peer roundtables and participate in CMO Club TV interviews. Beyond our official programming, you may also be interested in:

9:30am, Omni Downtown
Ads, Passion & Party Crashing with Bob Thacker
“All advertising is party crashing, so if you’re going to crash the party, bring a bottle of wine.”
In an interview with Dan Khabie, cofounder and CEO of WPP agency Digitaria, Bob Thacker speaks on the industry, good ads, passion, people and reinvention…

Presenters: Bob Thacker, Executive Director of and Dan Khabie, CEO, Digitaria Interactive

11:00am, Hilton Austin Downtown
Faster than Real-Time: Predictive Marketing
This panel brings together top marketers and digital strategists to discuss the next big revolution in marketing: predictive technology. Panelists will share their most effective tools and approaches to predictive marketing as well as case studies and examples from leading brands…

Presenters: Bill Ingram, VP of Adobe Analytics & Adobe Social, Nihal Mehta, CEO, LocalResponse
Nihal Mehta is a Founding General Partner at ENIAC Ventures, Nova Spivack, CEO, Bottlenose Inc. and Selcuk Atli, Co-founder & CEO, SocialWire

12:30pm, Hilton Austin Downtown
Getting to Why: Great Brands Create Great Experiences
Every technology company — large or small — is looking to create a lasting brand. The question is how? The key is understanding what makes you relevant, what delights your users and why they should come back. Then you’re not just creating a product, but an experience that can be replicated many times over…

Presenter: Kathy Savitt, CMO, Yahoo

4:00pm, The CMO Club House
Happy Hour + Altimeter Group One-on-One Interviews with Top Executives
Members of The CMO Club will receive full details about all programming to support their onsite experience.

Other Tuesday Parties

12:00-2:00am, Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel-Stephen F’s Bar
SXSW Late Night Saloon


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…

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 – 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 – The Green Mesquite on Barton Springs, Stubbs on Red River or Iron Works (right next door to the convention center)
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)

Downtown by Type
(FYI – For Brunch – Trio, Lamberts and Moonshine are typically great options)
– eclectic bistro owned by Sandra Bullock
– 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.
-(near the convention center) – restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel (drinks in their lobby is much more fun)
-(near the convention center)- eclectic, hip, fun
– Spanish tapas (close to the W Hotel)
La Condesa
– upscale Mexican
Chez Nous – French
– Upscale Bar-B-Q
Eddie Vs
– Seafood
The Roaring Fork at the Stephen F. Austin (Downtown) – Steak
– 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
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”
The five or so bars in the new W Hotel. Lots of people go right now but they are 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 Show Room
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 (new) – It’s amazing
Olivia – Amazing eclectic fare from the farm to the table
The Elizabeth Street Café (new) – Vietnamese
Lenoir (new) – 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
*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.

Outdoors + Yoga
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 creek side 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
Yoga Yoga
is everywhere…

The Town Lake YMCA
Also has a pool, hundreds of classes and day passes. It may also be reciprocal. It’s equivalent to high-price clubs in many other cities (It may still be under renovation during SXSW)

Retail Therapy
The Norm
Whole Foods
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: Ron King Salon
Make-Up: Rae Cosmetics

Arts & Culture
Visit Culture Map Austin for the most expansive and current arts and entertainment listings or pick up our free weekly, The Austin Chronicle.
Enjoy! And remember- it’s Austin. Don’t forget to pack an empty water bottle, dancing boots and a healthy sense of humor. This list was carefully crafted by members of Blast’s Austin office and we promise you, most of the “We Know It’s Great But Don’t Move Here” shirts are being worn by tourists, not those of us who actually call this city our home.

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