Why SXSW is the Next Big Platform for Healthcare Brands

Jack Health Blog

March 24th, 2023 By

SXSW healthcare brandsWith its fusion of music, film, technology, and culture, SXSW has grown to become a global epicenter of human, cultural, and brand experience for the 300,000+ attendees that flood Austin, Texas, every March. It’s a lot of work to make the most of all things SXSW, but the not-so-secret secret is that it’s also a ton of fun. It’s no surprise to see all the leading consumer, media, and tech brands making their presence known at the conference and festival through large scale, innovative, and interactive activations.

In healthcare, the traditional conference circuit for the corporate brand was typically directed at engaging investors at events like the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and the World Economic Forum at Davos. However, the emergence of the corporate brand during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new wave of industry events to connect and inspire industry leaders and marketers such as HLTH, ViVE, and MM+M Transform, while also cracking open the door to broader consumer and cultural conferences and tradeshows like CES, Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival – and now SXSW.

As the industry evolves, should healthcare brands double down on this new circuit of events? Does SXSW belong in the consideration set?

After immersing themselves in all things SXSW, Nigel Downer, SVP, Head of Jack Health U.S., and Jamey Hardesty, SVP, Senior Strategy Director, shared five reasons healthcare brands should consider showing up at SXSW in 2024:

  1. Climate and sustainability are at the forefront. SXSW provides an excellent platform for healthcare brands that want to demonstrate their commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies. However, it’s not enough to merely talk about these policies; brands need to show they are taking measurable action to impact change. SXSW is an opportunity to share success stories and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
  2. Boldness and bravery are rewarded. For brands that have gone beyond their core business to create real impact in the ESG space, SXSW is an excellent place to share these stories. However, just showing up isn’t enough. Brands need to be brave and demonstrate how they’re making a difference. Healthcare brands can learn from the innovative and impactful activations of companies across other verticals, for example, Ben & Jerry’s x Clean Creatives’ Carbon & Cream ice cream truck, which called out fossil fuel companies for greenwashing (using marketing to mislead the public into believing that a company’s products, aims and policies are more sustainable than they are).
  3. Great brands have ambassadors beyond the CEO’s office. We’re used to hearing every CEO talk about why their company is the best at what they do; however, decreasing industry trust scores tells us that investors and consumers need to see your results and values brought to life across the organization to believe more than hype. This means having and amplifying authentic voices inside and outside the C-suite who drive real change and demonstrate the brand’s commitment to its values. SXSW is an ideal place to share these stories and showcase the people behind the work.
  4. Innovation Inspires Fresh Thinking and Energy. SXSW is an opportunity for healthcare marketers to draw inspiration from other industries and re-imagine how they show up for conferences and trade shows. From Poshmark’s vibrant community-building to Disney’s effective storytelling, and Audible’s engaging and immersive sound experience, SXSW reminds healthcare marketers that we can do better and that we can build healthcare brands that patients, healthcare providers, and our employees can fall in love with.
  5. Culture Connects Brands with Consumers. Few platforms are as culturally relevant as SXSW, making it an ideal place for healthcare brands to connect with consumers and culture. It’s become a nucleus of intersectionality for brands where elected officials, a celebrity brand advocate, and a healthcare brand can sit on the same stage. It’s an opportunity to put their brand and voice in the middle of the larger cultural conversations that impact all of us – like sustainability and equality. Healthcare brands that want to break away from the expected and show that they’re doing important work should consider attending SXSW.

As healthcare brands look to expand their reach and connect with consumers in new ways, those willing and wanting to stand out should consider SXSW as a platform to showcase their work, learn from others, and inject fresh thinking and energy into their marketing teams. By demonstrating their commitment to ESG policies, showcasing their people, adopting new approaches to storytelling and brand experience, and connecting with consumers through culture, healthcare brands can take their marketing efforts to the next level.

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