SXSW Interactive: SOME LIVE OR DIE CHALLENGES FOR BIG RETAIL

Julian Bell, Managing Partner – GPY&R Melbourne

Retail is the $5-trillion driving force of the modern economy. Yet today’s SoLoMo shopping is almost unrecognisable from the salesman-to-buyer model of the last 2,000 years. With the pace of innovation only escalating – from personal robots and virtual reality – in 10 years, what will retail even look like?

I sat in to hear industry leaders explore how tech, culture and commerce will converge.

From a freewheeling discussion, here are 7 provocations that struck home:

  1. How well do you culturally evolve?

Could your business believe that we’ve reached the cultural tipping point of purchasing mattresses purely online? Casper did. Their sales were at $30 million last year and are expected to hit $100 million this year. Now more and more start –ups are joining the $15b pillow fight as legacy bedding retailers falter.

  1. What is your ongoing relevance?

You may have a wonderful heritage story but of what relevance is it today? How have you really adapted to changing customer behaviours? Be honest now…

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SXSW Interactive: Mobility on Demand

Julian Bell, Managing Partner – GPY&R Melbourne

From start-ups that solve complicated food decisions for the time poor to aggregated concierge services for Airb’n’b, the idea of ‘mobility on demand’ was a strong presence at this years’ conference.

To me, the pick of the bunch was a start-up named ‘Integrated Roadways’.

Consider first that 40% of U.S. roadways are in need of immediate repair, at an estimated cost of $2 trillion and growing… and you quickly understand it’s not a conversation government wants to have.

Combine this with the upcoming launch of the 5G networks and major Telco’s resistance to invest in cell tower infrastructure, and you now have the kernel of an inspired new business.

‘Integrated Roadways’ build precast Lego-style roadway blocks that contain embedded Telco technology and sensors…. facilitating a public + private partnership that drastically reduces cost to government, and eliminates the need for Telco tower investment (plus it makes for a smooth ride; currently used in German autobahns).

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SXSW Interactive: Autonomous Vehicles Driving a Better Society?

Julian Bell, Managing Partner – GPY&R Melbourne

Consider the fact that 90% of the 38,000 deaths on U.S. roads each year are caused by human error, and you quickly understand SXSW’s fascination with autonomous vehicles. I attended an expert panel discussion on the wide-ranging impacts of these vehicles: incredibly exciting for consumers, but highly concerning for peripheral industries.

So if we set aside a huge reduction in road trauma and its associated costs, what else should we expect?

Well, start by considering what consumers might do with $200 billion currently spent on automotive insurance… Volvo has recently committed to accept liability for any accidents in their autonomous vehicles, so confident are they in their product (quickly matched by most other major brands). What does this mean for the insurance category? Adapt quickly perhaps.

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Big Picture: The cult of SXSW

This article first appeared in AdNews
Featuring interviews with GPY&R Managing Partner Julian Bell and VML Managing Director and ECD Aden Hepburn

Hundreds of thousands of people are about to descend on Austin, Texas, for the mad 10 days that make up the South by South West festival. AdNews highlights the must-attend sessions, the top trends on the agenda being discussed and asks if SXSW is finally going to leave Cannes dead in the water?

What started out as a festival for the music industry has now morphed into a unmissable event in the agency and marketing calendar. South by South West (SXSW), especially the interactive stream, is littered with products, themes and sentiments that the industry is set to embrace over the coming year.

The festival has seen tech startups such as Meerkat, Foursquare and Twitter gain serious traction and over the years it’s also seen the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Chelsea Clinton, all gracing the stage as keynote speakers.

In 2015 more than 100,000 people descended on Austin for all the events, conferences and trade shows, seeing more than [US] $317.2 million pumped into the city’s economy. Each year more marketers and more Aussies touch down with more than 500 headed stateside this year. For managing director and ECD of VML Australia, Aden Hepburn, the conference speaks to a shift in the industry, which is why so many from adland locally brave the 23 hour journey to get a front row seat.

“From an advertising and marketing perspective, the industry doesn’t want to just make “ads” any more, everyone knows the world has changed,” he says. “So with SXSW being the new genesis of innovation and entrepreneurism, there is an abundance of startups, networking, inspiration, hands on education and creative and tech leaders all in one place. It’s proving to be an amazing platform to influence the ideas creatives and marketers want to make.”

Cannes versus SXSW

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Facebook, bring back the fun.

Written by GPY&R GAD, Jonny Clow

Long before the Timeline, the Facebook Wall ruled. You could kick jokes against it, upload pics and post away without judgment. It was fun. A short rewarding break. In fact, Facebook may well have been the only populist site that people visited to simply be entertained. Nearly every other site bar YouTube, has a defined purpose to deliver information, utility or news. Facebook was like a cigarette break for a generation weaned on Nicorette.

But then it changed.

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