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26th October 2023
SXSW: best brain-busting highlights from the Guts team!
Ying Mckenzie
Written by:
Ying Mckenzie

The Guts team were very excited to hit up South by Southwest (SXSW) this month, a conference and festival that celebrates the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture. It was held in Sydney for the first year ever outside its normal home of Austin, Texas, and it was packed! After a very busy week we came away with expanded horizons, brain-stretching thinking and plenty of food for thought about trends shaping our future.

Here are our top highlights:

1. David Droga on the future of tech-powered creativity

David Droga of Droga5 and Accenture Song had some straight-shooting points on AI. Make friends with it, don’t be afraid of it and think how you can shape the development of the technology. He says “Not all creativity needs to survive. The formulaic and mediocre will die off.” Amen! An example he gave was that AI can easily write the next few movies for Fast and Furious but could not write the Barbie movie. It cannot create new cutting edge ideas which haven't been done before. As a creative, he is tremendously excited about what AI can do as it allows creatives to download their ideas faster than ever before.

2. Reinvention - edible plates and rejecting the status quo

Cindy Gallop, of BBH fame and renowned keynote speaker, espoused the value of running against the grain and dispelling stereotypes. “Whatever you do, don’t do status quo’’, according to her. Her project ‘Make Love Not Porn’ has thrown convention out the door about sex and lovemaking and she is all about standing out by changing the game.

CSIRO is using science to transform the way we eat with their creations. There was talk of eating crickets, edible plates and using red algae in their plant-based chicken which had an edible bone – served up by none other than chef Neil Perry, and eaten on stage! A new word we learnt was ‘reducetarians’ – people who choose to reduce the amount of animal products they eat.

Layne Beachley talked about reinventing herself after retiring from competitive surfing at age 36. She did it by really going inside to discover the reason why she did the things she did, and finding purpose in life.

3. Vinomofo nails positioning and community building

Justin Dry of Vinomofo talked about their origin story and creating a brand for wine lovers without the ‘bowties and bullshit’. They are unashamedly not for everyone, building their brand based on an attitude instead of a demographic with headlines like 'death before sav blanc!'😱. They had a few lessons for us about building community, talking about their ‘homeless grapes’ initiative where they bought all the excess grapes from vineyards that would otherwise have gone to waste, inviting their community to come pick the grapes and donating all the proceeds from the wine made to charity. And even though they are an online community, getting together IRL is still very powerful.

4. Escape your echo chamber

Victor Dominello who reinvented Service NSW (now a consultant) talked about the challenge of misinformation which is sweeping our society; "the democratisation of media has led to a massive blurring of the lines between news and opinion". He asks everyone to ‘stay in the light’ (while referencing the Lion King 🙂) which in practical terms means seeking the truth and getting your information and data from multiple quality sources. Others talk about escaping the algorithm (which rewards outrage) by making sure you read from traditional mediums like magazines, newspapers and books that aren't curated by click-bait. More transparency is the key to Governments overcoming the lack of trust from general public.

5. The immersive revolution - enhancing the human experience with tech

Immersive art and culture is a $61.9 bil industry. Corinne Estrada, founder of AGENDA, a global arts communication agency, introduced us to the Ask Mona chatbot which brings Emperor Nero to life as an exceptional tour guide for the Colosseum in Rome. It uses technology (AI) to create a state-of-the-art digital experiences, engage visitors and make arts and culture more accessible. Immersive experiences using Augmented Reality (AR) technology are being pioneered by the gaming industry with The Louvre teaming up with Assasin's Creed using AR to gamify the experience both at the museum and on the streets of Paris. Opera National de Paris is also bringing the arts to the people, allowing visitors to take the experience home in their pocket and reaching others by reversing the model of expecting them to go to the gallery.

6. Telstra & canva questioning the norm to create social impact 

Sunil Puranikmath from Telstra talked about creating meaningful social impact by instilling a culture where staff can put their hand up when business decisions don't feel right. An example was Telstra payphones which had become nearly obsolete. The data showed that often the phones are being used to contact domestic violence and health-related helplines and so instead of getting rid of them, Telstra made all calls from their phone booths free. His advice to help keep marketers keep their brands on the right track? Ask: "if we didn't exist, who would care?". Fantastic hearing from Leigh McLeod at canva on their two step strategy; 1. Build the most valuable company, 2. Do the most good.

7. Hold space for diversity

Kyas Hepworth, head of Screen NSW, talked about burning preconceptions down to the ground in her session about creative leadership. She encourages us to hold the mirror up to ourselves and ask whether we are making space for people who are different to us to speak. Her message is clear, it is our job to educate ourselves, not the job of the diverse people to do that educating in the workplace. Only then can authentic collaboration happen.

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Guts Creative acknowledges the awesome culture and creativity of the traditional custodians of the Country where we work: Awabakal Nation and Worimi Nation. We walk humbly in their footsteps, support the protection of their invaluable knowledge, and are inspired to do better by Elders past and present.
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