SXSW is a learning experience and not just for attendees. Last year, sponsor McDonald’s wasn’t really the most favorably looked upon event space after a bit of a hubbub regarding its payment plans with bands. They also found themselves in an event space that wasn’t really ‘on brand’ for the SXSW audience. So imagine my surprise, when I found McDonald’s the venue I most wanted to frequent this year.
Learning from their past mistakes and figuring out what worked, McDonald combined the best of SXSW Interactive with SXSW Music in a cozy, warehouse space that felt much more in vibe with the rest of the festival. In one room, they had a bar plus 3 areas to try out VR. In the next room, they had a stage for live music and free food.
In the interactive VR room, McDonald’s had created one of the best applications of VR I had seen yet at the festival. While most brands were just showing 360 videos through the tech, McDonald’s actually made it interactive. Attendees were dropped inside a 4-corned Happy Meal Box and given a tool that let them spray paint and graffiti the walls to their choosing. When they were done, one of the panels was physically printed as a souvenir with the fresh artwork. For the first time, I was excited about the gamification of VR and its usage.
The music side of things was also of great appeal. DJ duo MSTRKRFT combined with rising stars such as the indie pop act Banners made for an entertaining evening. Banners in particular stole my heart with a very accessible, Bastille-esque sound. Secret Weapons’ energetic live show also won me over and had me eagerly anticipating what the next day’s lineup would reveal.
Check out photos from the event below: