“The universe of the show makes it a marketer’s dream to find new ways to keep fans engaged, and we’re always looking to go beyond the impression of a general advertisement to create an experience that feels both authentic and impactful,” Cardwell adds.
Just like the show, there was much to be discovered in “Live Without Limits Weekend.” From glitchy hosts to hidden scenes, clues about the second season of Westworld were everywhere for those willing to take a closer look. One easier to spot than others was the lone samurai mysteriously walking through Sweetwater, unnoticed by other hosts, teasing a major plot development in the most recent season.
Of all the memorable moments, though, one at the end of second day of the activation stood out to Wiese: “After all of our guests had left, the cast and creators of Westworld arrived for a private tour of the park. We showed them around – walking them through the train and the Mariposa Saloon and through the entire town- and then we all huddled around the campfire for celebratory drinks and conversation. It was surreal, in a way, to be surrounded by the people who starred in and created the series, in a town that we built. There was a celebratory sense of ‘Wow, we did this!’ from the entire HBO and Giant Spoon team.”
The awards and accolades began rolling in for Giant Spoon and HBO for pulling off one of the most memorable and immersive activations ever at SXSW, including a Cannes Gold Lion and the inaugural Arrow Award for Best Immersive Experience at SXSW 2018, among many others.
“ ‘Live Without Limits Weekend’ seeped beyond marketing or technology; it became an experience filled with memories that our guests are talking about half a year later,” says Wiese. “People who visited are still creating social posts, while many of the actors are touting it as one of the best acting experiences of their lives.”
While any agency would be thrilled to take home honors at the Cannes Lions Festival, Giant Spoon personnel found the long-lasting impact they made on people who were involved and who visited the activation to be the most fulfilling part of the experience. “It’s incredible to think about it when it lasted for only a moment over the course of four days,” Wiese says.
HBO set the standard for television programming years ago, and with the help of Giant Spoon, they managed to elevate experiential marketing to an entirely new level at SXSW 2018. “We also want people to look at our marketing as a standard-bearer, just like they would with our content,” says Cardwell.
When asked how an agency might make a splash at SXSW, Wiese advises: “Don’t make ‘make a splash’ your goal. Don’t just try to be the loudest, biggest, or flashiest ... Develop a simple concept that focuses on the most authentic way to engage with your brand and build a fun experience around it.”