George P. Johnson Experience Marketing - Brand Experience of the Year

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, Auburn Hills, MI
Company Description: GPJ is the world's leading experience marketing agency. We create great ideas and bring them to life through integrated experiential programs that leverage digital, mobile and physical brand activations.
Nomination Category: Marketing Campaign Categories - Specialty
Nomination Sub Category: Brand Experience of the Year - Consumer

Nomination Title: IBM at SXSW Interactive 2016

Tell the story of this nominated brand experience program for the judges (up to 650 words). Describe the genesis, planning, execution, and results to date of your campaign.

IBM’s presence at SXSW Interactive 2016 meant taking their rightful place as the power behind some of the legendary tech disruptors today. In addition, GPJ had to unite and authentically represent 25 IBM business units in a destination that rejuvenated attendee perception of the brand while also reaching the coveted millennial, developer, start-up and company leader audiences.

To create an immersive cognitive, agile and social world of IBM at SXSW, GPJ completely transformed a 5,000-square-foot restaurant into a custom venue – the IBM Cognitive Studio.

Inside the building, which was completely gutted and rebuilt for this experience, attendees learned how IBM Cognitive solutions are a part of their everyday lives.

Attendee journeys were personalized through RFID wristbands. Guests tapped their wristbands to trigger a custom experience at the Cognitive Cocktail Bar, where the bartender knew attendees’ names and Watson technology suggested drinks.

The Cognitive Cook-Off allowed Chef Watson to create unique recipes with the help of flavor compound algorithms, to face-off against executive chef Phillip Brown. Over 4,000 of Chef Watson’s original tacos were served up as a tasty proof point of Watson’s capabilities.

A virtual reality experience immersed attendees in the Cycling Experience, powered by IBM predictive analytics with vignettes recommended by Watson.

A developer playground, rock/paper/scissors game with a learning robot, mind-controlled BB8 robots, live mural creation and Watson interactive tables with custom content kept visitors engaged. And after each visit, an email summarized activities, providing attendee’s drink recipes and promoting further engagement.

With lines that sometimes went around the block, an amazing 9,210 attendees came through the door, over 50% of which were the targeted millennial demographic. 6,497 cognitive cocktails were served, 3,484 people experienced virtual reality cycling, 3,292 people engaged with the custom Watson interface.

IBM was one of three top trending brands at SXSW, with social media buzzing about the 360 degree experience.

"2016 will be remembered as the year IBM called the ball on cognitive computing, and its marketing activation at SXSW, which rechristened a 5,000-square foot restaurant as the IBM Cognitive Studio, was pretty much pitch-perfect." - John Battelle (Wired, The Industry Standard)

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of the nominated campaign (up to 150 words).

- GPJ completely transformed a 5,000-square-foot restaurant into a custom venue with nine key engagement areas.
- Attendee journeys were guided and personalized through RFID wristbands, allowing GPJ the ability to track attendees’ engagements and push personalized content.
- Guests could tap their wristbands to trigger a custom experience at the Cognitive Cocktail Bar, where the bartender knew each attendees’ name and Watson technology suggested their drink.
- The Cognitive Cook-Off allowed Chef Watson to create unique recipes with the help of flavor compound algorithms, to face-off against Vince Young Executive Chef Phillip Brown to see who could outthink their best steak.