Diversity Inspiration Party at South by Southwest, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

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SXSW was everything I expected and more. Uninterrupted flow of inspiration with one interesting session after another. “Keep them coming” was a repeated thought in my head. With several good sessions at the same time, making a choice was difficult, always leaving an inevitable feeling of FOMO. Like I might miss an important episode of a show called ‘FUTURE’. Yes, with so much talk about the Web 3, Metaverse, and NFTs, it often makes you feel like you’re on the verge of a new leap. And this time, I’m lucky enough to witness it firsthand with a lot more awareness.

Let’s start with the big stars of this show; Metaverse, Web 3 and NFT.

It’s one thing to know something, another to really know something. Honestly, before SXSW, I had a lot of inhibitions with Metaverse. How can living in an imaginary world be good? Why can’t we invest in enriching the real world, real experiences? What about our social needs? But when you really understand the different dimensions of Metaverse, you realize that it is much more than an extremely immersive virtual world. It opens up unimaginable possibilities for every sector.

And the “social” is an extremely important part of it. Companies like Meta that are rooted in social media focus on innovations like real-life photo avatars, real-life virtual meetings; both professional and social, eye tracking that will give the same experience as in-person eye contact, etc. They want to achieve all dimensions of a physical social experience in Metaverse. What’s interesting is that even in other industries like retail, sports, events, etc., social is an essential element that is planned in how we will experience them in the metaverse. “Let’s meet in person” will soon no longer be limited to only offline meetings.

And then there are companies whose only mission today is to create “real metaverses”. It’s when you replicate real-life locations like museums, historical sites, gardens, sporting events, fitness centers, and more. in the virtual world with very real experiences. These companies do not believe in dystopian realities. They believe that replicating the real world can bring positive good. It removes limitations such as geography, time, age, abilities, skills, affordability, making any experience accessible to more people.

What was rewarding was watching Metaverse explorations from various angles. Rich discussions with multidimensional views on the metaverse from well-known and emerging musicians and artists, game developers, sports, gambling, automakers, retailers, brands, politicians, highlighted highlights both obstacles and opportunities. This echoed the prevailing sentiment of Web 3, which is to “decentralize and be free for all”.

The opportunities this will open up for brands will be immense. 30-second commercials will always have a role, especially during sporting events and political news, as these will be the only genres where television will be relevant in the future. But it’s limited. Brands will need to accelerate their thinking to define and design their role and game in the new world. Explore the meaningful social and individual experiences that can accompany the metaverse.

While the enthusiasm for Metaverse was palpable across all sectors, the conversation around NFT has always seen the most energy among creative areas – music, games, art, fashion. They are the first to benefit positively from certified ownership of their creative assets and income. It will transcend beyond the creative world, but how fast and how much is still happening.

Move up a gear to social platforms; the creator economy will become even stronger. From simple influencers, they will become almost like brand salespeople, except they won’t look like they’re making hard sells. They can choose the product based on their belief on what they can most influence, create content, and earn a commission based on the number of sales through their videos. This will change things.

Each engaging story has multiple leads, one main and then many secondary leads. For me, it was all the amazing sessions from other areas like the future of space, the future of work, wellness, sports, automotive, even the future of cannabis. They managed to tickle my curiosity and I naturally gravitated towards many of them. Truly mind-blowing stuff with a commonality of heading towards a freer, immersive, healthier world. Attending big movie premieres with the stars themselves in venues like Paramount only heightened my ever-hypnotized feeling.

It was such a joy to see everyone, young or old, participant or panelist, in learning mode. Everyone was taking pictures of slides, recording conversations, taking notes. Even innovators and founders humbly discussed their failures, hoping to learn and correct their course. There was so much learning in every session, every experience, and every corner of Austin. The only discouraging thing was that there were very few Indian participants. For the next year, I would urge every company to advertise or otherwise bring their employees to where the future of everything is being explored.

SXSW is massive with multiple tracks and dives. Each individual bases his field and his inclinations can have a different experience. These are the things that stood out for me.

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