The Biggest Brand Activations & Influencer Partnerships At SXSW 2018

sxsw marketing 2018 influencers
For the latest influencer marketing news, resources, and case studies, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

The Top SXSW Marketing Campaigns Of 2018 With Bumble, Uber & Mercedes

South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual festival and conference based in Austin, Texas, is in full swing. With over 421,000 attendees from a diverse range of industries, the event presents a unique opportunity for marketers to promote new products and raise brand awareness.

Brands of all sizes are hosting elaborate events and partnering with influencers to expand the reach of their campaigns. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how three major brands are kicking off SXSW 2018 with influencers.

Bumble Is “Empowering Connections” At SXSW


To kick off SXSW 2018, Bumble hosted an event called “Empowering Connections.” The two-day event took place on March 9th and 10th and featured speeches from several inspirational female actresses, activists, writers, and artists in addition to a musical performance by Haim, profile advice at the “Bio Bar”, 5-minute first dates, an elevator pitch contest, and of course, plenty of “insta-worthy” spaces.


One of the keynote speakers was Gina Rodriguez, a fierce feminist and widely-successful actress who is best known for starring in The CW’s hit TV drama “Jane The Virgin”. After the event, she shared one Instagram post to thank Bumble for what she describes as an “empowering weekend,” effectively raising brand awareness for Bumble amongst her 2.4 million Instagram followers.

The post garnered over a quarter million likes and creates a positive link between Bumble and female empowerment, broadcasting the central messaging of the brand’s SXSW event to a large online audience.

Related Post: Bumble, Sephora & More Leverage The Power Of Micro-Influencers 

Uber Brings Micro-Influencers Aboard On The #RoadToRewards


Uber’s branded double-decker bus made an appearance at SXSW this weekend to help promote the new Uber Visa Card, which offers 4% back on dining purchases. The bus was recently converted into an upscale restaurant as part of its ongoing #RoadToRewards campaign and has been making appearances around the country ever since.

Uber leveraged several micro-influencers to spread the word about its restaurant on wheels, its new credit card, and its SXSW event. One of the influencers Uber invited to dine aboard its bus at SXSW was Jane Ko, an Austin based food and travel blogger with 48,000 followers on Instagram.


As an Austin, Texas local and an annual South By Southwest attendee, Ko has been known to provide her audience with sneak peeks at the hottest SXSW brand activations.

While savoring a gourmet meal at Uber’s event, Ko shared three Instagram Stories videos. In one of them, she verbally shares information about Uber’s new credit card program, encouraging her followers to take advantage of the rewards card and providing a personal reccomendation.


Additionally, she shared a multi-image post after the event that showcases the interior and exterior of the bus as well as her meal. Her food-focused audience aligns with the consumer base Uber seeks to promote its dining rewards credit card to, making her a logical choice for the campaign.

Related Post: How Uber Drives Results With Instagram Influencers [Case Study]

Mercedes Uses Macro-Influencers To Market Micro Innovations


For its SXSW 2018 activation, smart USA, a subdivision of Mercedes, partnered with Kasita, a tiny house company based in Austin, Texas. The two brands unveiled their micro innovations together during SXSW’s opening weekend.


Smart USA enlisted Brei Chiero of @hungryhipsters, an Instagram influencer with 138,000 followers, to attend and post throughout its event. Chiero shared three images on Instagram—one promoting smart USA’s newest vehicle, encouraging her audience to follow @smart_worldwide for SXSW updates, and one showcasing the innovative, fully automated Kasita tiny house that was featured at smart USA’s event.

Chiero’s three posts serve to generate excitement about smart USA’s newest product, drive traffic to the brands Instagram page, and expand the reach of its SXSW event. In each of her captions, she employs a conversational tone and infuses humor, enabling her to come across as both general and relatable.


For example, she jokes about moving into the smart tiny house, but says it “it may be weird for everyone else at the festival.” With comments like this, her personality shines through, boosting the campaign’s authenticity.

Related Post: How Mercedes Markets To Millennials [Case Study]

Also See Our Posts On:

Why Advertisers Love SXSW, Coachella & Top Music Festivals

Case Study: 6 Fashion Advertising Campaigns On YouTube

Master Influencer Relationship Management In 10 Easy Steps

The 9 Biggest Instagram Trends Marketers Must Know For 2018