#PuppyHour and Reality TV Recruitment: Poster Children of SXSW

SXSW posters

Nellie Bowles


It may have rained during much of the 2014 South By Southwest Interactive tech festival, which ends today, but that didn’t stop the startup marketing teams from rolling out their most important advertising campaigns — largely with paper, glue, chalk and staples.

The festival — where hundreds of thousands gather ostensibly for panels, but also for the spectacle of it all — is really a street parade. Austin shuts down its downtown drags, so entrepreneurs and CEOs can pad around between local bars and restaurants. For the weekend, fliers are the name of the game. Each poster survives only a few hours (sometimes minutes) before another bootstrapping entrepreneur with a new social mobile app to hawk comes around with a roll of tape.

So, for a few days, it feels like all of downtown Austin has literally been painted over with memes, apps and hashtags. Some posters (for new dating apps, for example) are easy to read. Some are clearly aimed exclusively at engineers. All are kind of ridiculous, but entertaining.

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