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Nike Makes It Count At SXSW

This was my second year attending the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin. And while it seemed a hell of a lot more crowded than last year, it wasn't that different. Corporate sponsors, as well as aspiring start-ups, had experiential displays set up in the convention center, in hotels and in bars and parking lots all over the city. From free rides across town in a Chevy Volt, to literally playing a game of foursquare on the Foursquare Court, there was no shortage of cool things to explore and experience. One of the most popular destinations this year came from a brand I wouldn't have expected to be at an interactive conference: Nike.

SXSW Nike

Nike took over an empty lot in downtown Austin to promote its latest product, the Nike Fuel Band. The next evolution in Nike+, the Fuel Band is meant to measure everything you do throughout the day - every step, calorie, etc. - no matter what sport or activity. The Fuel Band connects to your iPhone via Bluetooth, and then to the web via the Nike Fuel Band app. Naturally, the whole thing is then tied to social media. Users set goals, or fuel levels, that they want to reach each day.

 

The Fuel Band ties nicely into Nike's broader campaign line, "Life's a sport, make it count." And while it certainly looks cool, the actual product is just the first splash in what's quickly becoming an exciting new territory for Nike. While they'll never stop making sneakers, Nike is quickly becoming a technology company. Products like the Fuel Band give Nike fans new ways to connect with one another and share with their broader social networks. And the more people interact, the more data Nike receives on the back end. Data, as any SXSW attendee from this year can tell you, is becoming more and more valuable to marketers. In conjunction with the launch of Fuel Band, Nike has opened up their own API (application programming interface), so that developers can create applications that use their data. Pretty cool, and definitely something to watch as more brands start to blur the lines between physical and digital.


Fulfilling Basic Needs at South by Southwest

The South By Southwest interactive conference is about technology, what's next, and big ideas. Each year is more jam-packed and overwhelming than the next. This year we took a contrarian approach to the conference for our team on the ground: Rather than tweet and blog the stuffing out of it in real time, we asked them to stay in the moment and pay attention.

I woke up this morning thinking about basic needs at the conference and how several brands are fulfilling them. AT&T and others are providing convenient ways to charge your cell phone in the endless search for a power outlet. Walk ten feet and someone with a logo will feed you breakfast tacos or give you something caffeinated to drink. And if you wish you had better notes, Ogilvy Notes has solved that problem beautifully.

I wonder if anyone has solved the basic need for peace and quiet down in Austin.

The back channel is full of people who are stimulated to the point of feeling overwhelmed. They are reminding each other to pace themselves as they navigate a sea of multi-tasking digital humanity.

Until I get there next year with my quiet room … or Quiet Room, the gamification of nothing, a hipster start-up ... science suggests folks should go outside and look at the sky with phones OFF for 15 minutes of nothing while sniffing lavender. Then run off to your next session.