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TODD SMITH — The Spin Cycle heads to SXSW in Austin, Texas

SXSW_2015_Family_CMYK-02The Spin Cycle – always on the lookout for innovative thought that drives the branding industry – rolled into Texas for the annual South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conferences & Festivals, soaking up the latest in emerging marketing technologies.

Stay tuned for a full report from the event in next week’s Spin Cycle.

SXSW offers the unique industry convergence of music, film, and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.

The event is a launch pad for innovative content with new media presentations, music showcases and film screenings providing exposure for creators and compelling entertainment for attendees.

Music, film, and Interactive conference sessions present a forum for inspiration and learning, while business and networking opportunities thrive at the trade show and beyond.

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Austin serves as the perfect backdrop for SXSW, where career development flourishes amid the relaxed atmosphere, and new ideas and revelations resonate long after the event’s conclusion.

“That small, grass-roots event — which drew 700 people its inaugural year — has since mushroomed into SXSW, one of the largest and most influential gatherings on the planet.” – USA Today, March 7, 2014.

SXSW offers the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies. Year after year, the event is a global fusion of creative content. New media presentations, music showcases and film screenings provide buzz-generating exposure for creators and compelling entertainment for audiences. Conference panel discussions present a forum for learning, business activity thrives at the trade shows and global networking opportunities abound.

In short, it’s the epicenter of digital marketing thought for a full week of creativity and thought leadership.

CNN Tests New Ways To Mix Ads With News

Do ads belong in the ubiquitous news ticker that scrolls along during so many TV-news broadcasts? CNN is willing to find out.

The Time Warner-owned cable-news outlet is open to the idea of running an advertiser’s logo in its bottom-of-the-screen zipper, so long as the appearance is tailored appropriately, said Katrina Cukaj, executive vice president of CNN ad sales.

In years past, CNN shunned such blurring of the lines, in the belief that mixing editorial and advertising too closely could foster a perception that CNN’s journalism was swayed by a sponsor.  However, CNN has seemed to change its tune. The network has looked for more ways to weave ad messages into programming not so tied to breaking news, such as its “New Day” morning show – where a logo for General Mills’ Fiber One cereal shows up during weather reports – or its original documentary series slated for primetime.

CNN isn’t the first to tread these waters, of course. Yet its embrace of these concepts may be the biggest indication yet that concerns about mixing advertising and journalism seem less pressing when the ad dollars that fuel reporting are migrating away from some TV outlets.

MSNBC has long allowed Starbucks to sponsor its “Morning Joe” program, even when Howard Schultz, CEO of the coffeehouse company, was being questioned in 2011 by co-host Mika Brzezinski. Many local-news broadcasts feature weather or sports segments sponsored by a single advertiser, and one Las Vegas outlet in 2008 famously placed cups of iced coffee emblazoned with a McDonald’s logo on its anchor desk. CNN is simply dipping its toe in a pond that has already been warmed.

The network’s newly aggressive ad stance is a bet on the future of how TV-news will be experienced.  To be sure, CNN is still a TV network. But a rising generation is more likely to sample its programming with mobile tablets and smartphones. In 2013, according to a survey by Pew Research Center’s annual “State of the Media” report, 82 percent of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop and 54 percent said they got news on a mobile device.

The cable-news outlet may have more leeway on the screens of these devices to display ads that are not seen as encroaching upon the content. On CNN Go, the network’s mobile app, users can pick what reports they want to see, and an advertiser can put forth the notion that it helps bring the news to the consumer.

Fostering that distinction – helping to bring news from an outlet to a consumer, as opposed to interrupting or influencing it – may give CNN an ability to woo Madison Avenue in different ways. In recent months, the network has signed Volkswagen as a “presenting sponsor” of its original films; enlisted the CEO of Allstate to praise documentary series “Chicagoland” in advertisements that accompanied that show; signed Acura to sponsor “sneak peeks” at the end of its “Parts Unknown” series starring Anthony Bourdain; secured Holiday Inn as a producer of a series on HLN; and given telecommunications advertiser T-Mobile prominent placement in a show on that network, “The Daily Share.”

CNN’s challenges in recent years are well known among advertisers. As the network strived to stick to a centrist presentation across its shows, even those in primetime, rivals like Fox News and MSNBC stole viewers. Fox News remains cable’s dominant news network, but CNN has in recent months made strides against MSNBC, which has made major shifts to its daytime lineup.

Apple Watch, new MacBook unveiled

Apple has finally unveiled the wearable – the company’s first entirely new product line in five years.

To date, it’s the most expensive smartwatch ever created – at least for the 18-karat solid gold version, which will be priced from $10,000 up to $17,000 depending on the size, color and band options.

The basic version starts at $349 for the Sport, and between $549 and $1,049 for the midrange stainless steel model, depending on size and choice of watchband. Preorders for Apple Watch begin April 10 and they will ship starting April 24

Apple Watch will work in tandem with iPhone 5, 5C, 6 and 6 Plus running iOS 8.2, a software update that is available for download Monday.

Apple Watch communicates with Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth so when your phone is out of Bluetooth range you can still get calls and notifications on the watch.

18K Mic | SXSW Impact Is Solid Gold For Austin, Texas

SXSW makes a huge impact on entertainment and marketing innovation. It also delivers an incredible shot in the arm for Austin and the entire state of Texas.

The economic impact of SXSW’s events totaled $315 million for 2014. The event reinforces SXSW’s reputation as the world’s premier gathering of creative professionals. In addition to its thriving legacy components – music, film, and interactive – SXSW also encompasses newer, burgeoning conferences dedicated to sustainability (SXSW Eco) and education (SXSWedu). SXSW remains singular in its ability to facilitate the exchange of ideas from such a wide a variety of disciplines and cultures. The event brings together an impressive agglomeration of music, film, and interactive industry leaders. Geographically, SXSW draws participants from around the world. The infusion of international talent each year during SXSW transforms Austin into a global epicenter for creative professionals.

Last year, SXSW’s core events attracted 44,500 registrants – and SXSW continues to be the single most profitable event for the City of Austin’s hospitality industry. Bask in your golden glow, Austin – SXSW takes the Golden Mic. The Spin Cycle can’t wait to see the impact the festival continues to make in the industry!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.

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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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