Comedy Central, Sony Among SXSW Experiential Award Winners

Festival added a new award to the lineup

Comedy Central built its presidential Twitter library at SXSW for the sixth time.
Dianna McDougall/Adweek

Last March, South by Southwest created a new awards program, the SXSW Creative Experience Arrow Awards, to honor the growing experiential focus at the festival. This year, in a bid to recognize that continued growth of experiential, SXSW added a new award, Best Exhibition Experience, to the Arrow Awards.

“As agencies, brands, and other groups continue to bring their most ambitious experiential ideas to life at SXSW, we will continue to broaden the awards to recognize that creative spirit,” said Roland Swenson, CEO of SXSW, in a statement. “Well-executed, thoughtful activations enhance the overall experience for our attendees, and we are always inspired by what our partners create at SXSW.”

Marketers from Comedy Central (Spirit of SXSW), Sony (Best Use of Technology), Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Department (Best Immersive Experience) and NHK Enterprises and Rhizomatiks (Best Exhibition Experience) took home this year’s Arrow Awards.

“Comedy Central’s activation combined politics, journalism, the impact of social media, and humor within the context of an historic Austin hotel that was a haunt for local politicians, including LBJ,” Sweson said. “This representation of many facets of our current culture mirrors how SXSW converges a variety of industries and points of view. The Presidential Twitter Library uses satire to explore a moment in time and was a natural fit within the footprint of our event.”

Sony’s Wow Studio, in its third year at the festival, took home the top prize for Best Use of Technology for the second year in a row.

Full descriptions of the winners are listed below:

Best Immersive Experience:

The New Japan Islands by media artist Yoichi Ochiai, produced in collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry department (METI) and other partners.

A collaboration between multiple partners, The New Japan Islands immersed visitors in landscapes and visions
of the future based on culture original to Japan. The project included more than 25 different activations from a Japanese market scene to food samples to pachinko, from karaoke to J-Pop to haikus—all designed to allow visitors to take deeper looks into Japanese culture, technology and philosophy. The message was “to consider a Nostalgic Future, that is, to revisit the original ways of human life to construct a future that softly connects industry and culture,” according to the project’s website.

Best Use of Technology:

Sony WOW Studio by Sony Brand Design Platform

Sony presented a variety of sessions and exhibitions exploring the theme “Will Technology Enrich Human Creativity?” Showcasing R&D projects applying Sony’s newest technologies and prototypes, the studio featured The “CAVE without a LIGHT,” an experiential exhibition of inclusive design that allowed visitors to play music together using sound and haptic technology in a pitch-black cave-like setting.

Spirit of SXSW:

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library by Comedy Central

Perfectly situated in Austin’s historic Driskill Hotel, “The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library” showcases the Commander-in-Chief’s preferred vessel for communicating with the public, his Twitter feed.

In this case, the tweets of Donald J. Trump were curated and displayed in an installation that led participants through a museum-like experience with interactivity and humor. The attraction was a timely fit for SXSW 2019, with its exploration of politics, journalism, and the impact of social media—but also of comedy and entertainment.

Best Exhibition Experience:

The Time Machine by NHK Enterprises and Rhizomatiks

Within the walls of the SXSW 2019 Trade Show, NHK (Japan’s public broadcaster) unveiled its new virtual reality experience, “The Time Machine,” taking users back to 1964, the last time the Olympics were held in Tokyo. By using old photographs gathered at that time, producers recreated a past environment that included the busy Shibuya district and other well known Tokyo attractions. Designed to demonstrate the possibility of revisiting any place at any time, the producers are also appealing to the public for more material in order to recreate other historic moments in time.

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