SXSW Tour: Katie Finney’s key takeaways


“The whole experience was inspiring, eye opening, jam packed”

South by South West in Austin Texas is one of the biggest events on the global media calendar, and there is even more interest down under in Australia this year due to the upcoming SXSW Sydney. 

Due to this, the Mediaweek SXSW tour took several media executives from across the country to the week long event and has now caught up with several members of the tour on what their key takeaways were.

Today it is Katie Finney, Director of 7RED, from Seven West Media.

What were your thoughts on SXSW?

SXSW delivered on its promise of an essential destination for global professionals. The whole experience was inspiring, eye opening, jam packed, at times exhausting and importantly a whole lot of fun.

Although at times it felt as if there were never enough minutes in the day; with so many lectures, panels and activations taking place all over the city at the same time, I accepted that I couldn’t be in three places at the same time and embraced the unexpected sessions and was present in the moment.

Before attending I hadn’t grasped the scale of the festival and how Austin would come to life both for the people attending SXSW – but also for the residents of Austin who get to engage with consumer facing brands via experiential activations.

What were some of your highlights?

• Amy Webb Launches 2023 Emerging Tech Trend Report. The content and its delivery were exceptional. Amy had the entire room (many of who had queued for two hours to be guaranteed a seat) entranced throughout the hour. How exciting Amy is headlining SXSW Sydney.  Although at times I felt disturbed and afraid of what our future could look like, I also left feeling excited and ready to embrace the power of AI and Web 3.0 as it becomes business normal.


• As a massive Scandal fan attending “Unpacking the Toolbox: 10 Years of “Scandal”. Hosted by Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz, cast of the show who have launched a rewatch podcast, and George Newbern (another member of the cast) as a special guest. It felt electric to be in a room with a group of strangers who were all engaging in the somewhat guilty pleasure of just being fans for an hour and listening to the behind the scenes of a great show.

• Y’all Are Welcome to Prime where Prime Video took over a super cool hotel in hip suburb South Congress over the river from the convention centre.  It was inspiring to see how creatively Prime integrated all of the big shows into an experiential environment creating a festival-like vibe which promoted the depth of content and how big shows such as “Daisy Jones and the Six” play a role in culture.  

• Sharing the festival and conference with the Mediaweek group and as well as meeting a lot of other great people across the week.  It heightened the experience by attending with a group of likeminded individuals and being able to breakdown each of the sessions and discuss how we can bring it back into our day to day in Australia and share with our teams.

Why did you come to SXSW 2023? Did you get what you wanted out of the experience?

Seven are an event partner of SXSW Sydney and are having our 2024 Upfronts as part of the festival. I attended SXSW to get an intimate understanding of the conference, the content included and the broader festival. I wanted to see how brands show up both as part of the program on a B2B level but also direct to consumer.


What has been the biggest surprise?

The scale of the activations. For example, the Porsche experience took up almost an entire block and was set up across the entire 10 days of SXSW and Prime Video taking over an entire hotel.

Would you do anything different, given the chance?

There was nothing I would change about this trip but next time I would love to attend a film premiere.

What’s the funniest or most quirky thing you’ve seen?

I was walking through Downtown Austin near the Paramount Cinema prior to the premiere of John Wick 4, and there were frenzied people marching cult like down the street. They were calling out Baba Yaga, Baba Yaga with signs with pictures of their god or leader. At the time I thought ‘well, I am in America, so of course there are people from a cult walking down the street’. In fact, Baba Yaga is the nickname of John Wick and it was part of the promotion to the super fans of the John Wick franchise.

See Also: SXSW Tour: Georgie Nichols’ key takeaways

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