AUSTIN, TX. — Amazon has turned into something much more than an e-commerce business, and that much was evident this week at SXSW.
The Seattle tech giant had a noticeable presence at the annual conference/festival in Austin, Texas, that combines tech, music, film, gaming, and much more into ten action-packed days.
GeekWire spent the past few days in Austin for the “Interactive” track at SXSW, the first third of the festival that is the “tech/startup” portion of the event.
Hundreds of companies send their marketing teams to SXSW with the hopes of increasing their brand relevance and reaching thousands of attendees.
Amazon touted a variety of its business verticals at the event, ranging from the company’s ambitious drone project to its streaming video arm. For example, the company rented out the San Jac Saloon on Austin’s busy Sixth Street and invited folks to check out a version of its delivery drone, which was visible to people passing by via an open window.
Recruiting was part of Amazon’s SXSW activations, as employees were at the San Jac Saloon hosting tech talks and meeting with potential new employees.
Amazon also took over the Market & Tap Room, another bar a few blocks over from Sixth Street, this time to promote Amazon Prime Video and its original show “Man in the High Castle.” There, the company launched its “Resistance Radio” campaign — a fake renegade radio station — to promote season two of the fictionalized historical drama that imagines the Axis Powers winning World War II. On the rooftop, Amazon hosted the pseudo-station’s broadcast booth and a performance stage that featured live musical performances at night.
Other Amazon original shows, including My Long Strange Trip, American Playboy, and Patriot were also being promoted at the bar.
Amazon also showed off another old version of its delivery drone at the bar.
— Alyssa Newcomb (@AlyssaNewcomb) March 11, 2017
But that slogan, which was also posted outside the San Jac Saloon bar, didn’t go over so well with some local Austin booksellers.
— BookPeople (@BookPeople) March 11, 2017
AWS sponsored the United States Conference of Mayors track at SXSW, while Ardine Williams, VP of AWS Global Talent Acquisition, spoke on a panel about how Amazon is using the apprenticeship model to recruit veterans into tech careers at AWS, which also sponsored a SXSW startup crawl.
Other Amazon leaders that spoke at SXSW include Richard Au, head of content acquisition for Amazon Channels, who was featured alongside Showtime and Starz executives on a panel about Amazon Channels. Amazon Music VP Steve Boom also participated in a fireside chat with country music star Garth Brooks, who inked a deal with Amazon in October.
Amazon’s branding was visible elsewhere at SXSW.
Amazon’s appearance at SXSW follow’s the company’s showing two months ago at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where its Alexa voice platform became one of the event’s biggest stories.
Meanwhile, Seattle’s other long-standing tech giant, Microsoft, had little-to-no presence at SXSW this year after showing up in the past. It’s one of several tech companies that have downsized their SXSW marketing efforts.