Industry Content & Media

How One Sponsor Used Pajamas and Moms to Stand Out During SXSW


No matter where attendees turn in Austin, Texas, during SXSW, they are overwhelmed with marketing messages. Each year, brands take over downtown with invitations to don virtual-reality goggles, have their fortune told, take cycling classes, and much more. As alcohol companies, movie studios, shoemakers, and a range of other sponsors invested in capturing a few minutes of attendees’ attention during SXSW 2017, One:Night and Casper turned to an unlikely combination: a mattress and a bedtime story.

One:Night is a mobile app that helps travelers find last-minute hotel rooms that are not listed until 3 p.m. Working with Casper — an online mattress company that is no stranger to memorable event activations — One:Night offered some SXSW attendees rooms at the historic Austin Motel for just $99 per night from March 10–14. It’s notoriously challenging to find reasonably priced hotel rooms during SXSW, so $99 is a steal. Guests slept on — you guessed it — Casper mattresses, but they also received some perks: a Tesla car and driver for any trips while they were in town, and an invitation to a special evening curated by the Future of StoryTelling. When guests were ready to call it a night, they put on a pair of Suitsupply pajamas before listening to “a bedtime story read to you by a real-life mom.”

Reaching a Wider Audience

The Austin Motel is not a massive property, so what about all those attendees who were too late to secure the $99 deal? One:Night and Casper also offered free 45-minute appointments in “Refresh Rooms” that gave people opportunities for naps and showers — both of which are necessities during long days of moving between sessions, parties, and showcases.

As event organizers look for opportunities to help their sponsors create more meaningful connections with attendees, the activation offers a valuable lesson in being different. Many sponsors at SXSW look for ways to be louder than their competitors. They want to get more people to their stage or party, so they offer more bands, more drinks, more of basically everything. One:Night and Casper are checking the party off the to-do list for brands at SXSW with an opening night kick-off with a free bar, virtual-reality installations, and a DJ set, but otherwise, the partnership offers SXSW attendees a rare combination during the festival: peace and quiet.

If you missed the chance to put on those pajamas and meet a “real-life mom” in Austin, you can still get a glimpse of the Future of StoryTelling. Click here to check out Convene’s coverage of the Future of StoryTelling Summit in New York.