SXSW Interactive, the first half of the Austin, Texas festival dedicated to interactive media, film and music, attracts thousands of festival-goers – and tons of brands trying to reach them. From VR experiences and AI robots, to an actual hotel you stay in, brands at SXSW spared no expense this year with an impressive array of stunts designed to get people tweeting, Instagramming and Snapping about their brand experiences. Here are 5 that impressed us in the Sketch office…

 

AMC’s Los Pollos Hermanos Restaurant

A pop-up version of the infamous chicken chain, known for shady dealings on AMC’s Breaking Bad, announced the upcoming appearance of the chain’s owner, Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito), in Season 3 of Better Call Saul. The restaurant was built from scratch in three days and borrows props from the show like gumball machines, the clock and Jimmy’s car.

 

Netflix Lockers

Netflix placed school lockers filled with props across Austin to promote its 13 Reasons Why series. The series is a mystery about a high school girl who commits suicide and then leaves behind 13 cassette tapes containing her ‘13 reasons why’ for classmates to decipher. Festival goers could choose a locker and listen to one of the messages on a cassette player. It’s a simple stunt but executed well.

 

 

Starz’ Big White Buffalo

Maybe not strictly ‘experiential’, but it was a huge stunt and impossible to miss. The giant, smoking, red-eye glowing buffalo didn’t tell you much about the new American Gods series from Starz either (it’s based on the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman), but it grabbed the attention enough for visitors to tweet about it.

 

 

TNT’s Animal Kingdom Surf Simulator

TNT literally made waves in downtown Austin to promote Season 2 of its show Animal Kingdom. The pop-up transported visitors to the show’s Cody Beach, complete with a giant FlowRider surf simulator, surf lounge, custom Vans art bar, live street art, beer garden and a Mighty Cone food truck.

 

 

HBO’s Escape Rooms

HBO used SXSW to promote its three most popular shows – Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley – with themed, intricately-detailed escape rooms. Escape rooms are mystery games where you have to solve puzzles to get out of a locked room – everyone from Google to Ford have created them recently. Here, the Oval Office from Veep had everything from the president’s desk to perfectly rendered paintings on the wall, while the Game of Thrones room was a perfect re-creation of a cold, snowy dungeon in Castle Black…

 

 

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