Creative Experience Awards

SXSW is widely known as a platform for exceptional experiential activations and the SXSW Creative Experience "Arrow" Awards celebrate excellence in the field by brands, agencies, and artists at SXSW.

Sony WoW Studio - Photo by Aaron Rogosin

About the Creative Experience Awards


Creative Experience Awards are closed for 2021. Browse more Awards categories and Participation opportunities.

SXSW has long been a destination for cutting edge agencies and brands to bring their most inventive ideas to life. The SXSW Creative Experience Awards launched at SXSW 2018 to celebrate the innovative work and creative spirit of both brands and agencies at SXSW.

"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. "Well-executed, thoughtful activations enhance the overall experience for our attendees, and we are always inspired by what our partners create at SXSW."

The following four categories recognize the creativity and impact of experiences at SXSW – Best Immersive Experience, Best Use of Technology, Best Exhibition Experience (added 2019), and Spirit of SXSW. Browse the Arrow winners for 2019 and 2018.

The awards jury is comprised of select SXSW staff and industry advisors. Category winners are selected based on combined evaluation scores and announced at the conclusion of the SXSW event. The judging panel is formed by invitation and through applications.

Sony Wow

All of us involved in WOW Studio are deeply moved by being recognized with this award and are appreciative of the title that really resonates with us. SXSW is a very unique stage for the purpose of our brand appeal and accelerating the open innovation.

Shigeki (Simon) Mori
General Manager of Brand Strategy Department / Sony Corporation


In recreating Westworld at SXSW, our goal was for fans to feel like they were stepping off the train and looking down the main drag into Sweetwater. We wanted to inspire that sense of wonder or apprehension or curiosity that takes over when a new guest visits the park in the show.

Steven Cardwell
Director of Program Marketing / HBO

Creative Experience Awards Winners



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.

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.

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 Immersive Experience

HBO and Giant Spoon for Live without Limits Weekend, an immersive Westworld experience

HBO and Giant Spoon created an immersive theatrical experience for Westworld. Attendees were shuttled to a remote location where a recreation of the town of Sweetwater awaited them. The experience included actors trained for months in advance to create a fictional story that came to life on the two-acre set.

Best Use of Technology

Brand Strategy team from Sony Corporation for WOW Studio

Sony’s Wow Studio showcased 11 projects and prototypes that blended art and technology. The ambitious installation included VR, robotics, high speed vision sensor and spatial audio technology named Sonic Surf VR. One of the examples was interactive tabletop projectors that allowed visitors to interact with visuals and sounds by sensing the movement of their fingers, while small 3D-printed musical instruments came to life by 3D projection.

Spirit of SXSW

Meow Wolf for Fractallage (a pop-up installation) and The Atrium (VR experience)

Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based art collective whose documentary film, Meow Wolf: Origin Story was accepted into the SXSW Film Festival, expanded their Austin presence with a pop-up installation, Fractallage and a VR experience, The Atrium. The collective’s DIY outsider spirit came to life in their wide-ranging SXSW participation.

Creative Experience Awards Judges


SXSW is widely known as a platform for exceptional experiential activations. The SXSW Creative Experience Awards celebrate excellence in spatial activations and experiences by brands, agencies, and artists at SXSW. Judging takes place on-site during the event and entries are evaluated through first-hand experience. Category winners are selected based on combined evaluation scores and announced at the conclusion of SXSW.

The Judging Panel is formed by invitation and through applications. As an additional perk, Competition Judges for the Creative Experience Awards will receive one (1) complimentary SXSW Platinum Badge (registration) for a companion.


  • Demonstrated experience with creative design and/or strategy for physical environments, brand activations and experiences, event production, and/or art installations.
  • SXSW staff approval.

On-Site Duties

  • This judging panel is unique in that it requires site visits to each eligible activation during the event. To allow sufficient time to perform these visits and submit your evaluations, you must commit to attending the SXSW event for a minimum of four (4) consecutive dates.
  • Please keep in mind that the bulk of the activations take place only on the first weekend, so you should plan on being here in time to visit them before they end.
  • Evaluations must be submitted within ten (10) hours for each activation visited using either the online form or a physical ballot.

Off-Site Duties

  • Provide 2-3 recommendations for future judging panel members. This helps to ensure an extensive and diverse candidate pool.
  • Complete a post-event questionnaire.


  • In the event of a conflict of interest in relation to any activation that is eligible for an award, you must disclose the conflict and recuse yourself from evaluating that activation.

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