Chevrolet's going to South By Southwest next week, and not (just) for chimichangas at Chuys (although that, by itself, is a good reason to go to Austin, Texas.) The automaker is not new to the Austin mega-happening for tech, music, art, media, everything ersatz, and lots of brands. The automaker has been down to Hill Country for the last four years as main auto sponsor of the event, or -- in keeping with the tone of the event -- "Official Ride" and "Super Sponsor."
The automaker has lined up a roster of its activities there, including its "Catch A Chevy" program, which it has done previously as part of its sponsorship. This year it is giving people rides in a fleet of 50 Cruze Eco and Malibu cars.
As before, Chevy is also offering a "Drive a Chevy" ride-and-drive to tout Camaro, Corvette, Equinox, Sonic, Spark and Volt. And the automaker is bringing back a lounge with a new title, "Find New Roads Lounge," evincing the brand's new global tagline. New this year is a second hangout, "Chevrolet Crossroads," with the requisite charging stations, places to recline and a DJ using the MyLink infotainment system in the Sonic compact car.
The company will also bring in Chevy Volts as part of a program in which the car and its EcoHub platform will assist in a smart-grid program supporting a University of Texas-based carbon-footprint reduction program. This will happen at Austin's Mueller Community, a 900-acre development on the grounds of the closed Mueller municipal airport. It's a mix-used, sustainable urban neighborhood that has expanded into a small city. Parenthetically, Denver did this on a larger scale on the grounds of the defunct Stapleton Airport.
A series of Chevy sweepstakes dangle access to private events, music wristbands and side-stage platform passes at Auditorium Shores, all of which can by vied for by registering and scanning at Chevrolet venues and hashtags.
The automaker will also have products at the event's major trade show, and will host a series of social-media panels called "Tweethouse & Technology" that includes Chevrolet's Digital and CRM Director Andrew Dinsdale, and OnStar's VP Nick Pudar.
While Chevrolet has the official auto sponsorship position tied up, other automakers have had presence there as well. Last year, Toyota had an event around a bicycle inspired by Prius; Ford talked about connected cars, social media, and partnerships with start-ups; and a couple of years ago Fiat was the sponsor of "Fader Fort," a multi-day SXSW party. This year, Converse is that event's sponsor.
And last year, Chevy did a social-media fueled program leading up the SXSW called "Chevy SXSW Road Trip," wherein Five teams of drivers got a Chevrolet vehicle, used OnStar to navigate, and did real-time social media travelogue/dialogue.