TL;DR: We used a mix of live, one-to-one engagement, creative, person-on-the-street-style video, and planned content and media to help Nespresso “win” SxSW its first year there, driving sampling, reach and awareness of its new product line. As a result, Nespresso joined the ranks of Doritos, Apple and Samsung as one of the most mentioned brands at SxSW.

Challenge: Nespresso was introducing its new line of made-for-America coffee machines and capsules – Vertuoline – to the U.S. This product would be the first to make an American-style “long” cup of coffee with all the quality and innovation of Nespresso espresso drinks. Nespresso set off on a sampling tour, but needed to get the attention of influencers and early adopters to drive trial and awareness at scale. Our challenge was to amplify their tour to the right audience outside of local markets.

The Work: Our real question was where and when can we find lots of particular, caffeine-fueled, gadget-fetishizing, early adopters with huge social media and digital influence? SxSW Interactive, that’s where. We worked with Nespresso to make a tour stop in a parking lot near the Austin convention center at SxSW, where, for a week, we helped them distribute free coffee. Nothing could be more perfect for a conference known for a 22-hour day. From our experience with the brand, we knew that during live demos and sampling, there is an “a-ha” moment clearly visible on a newbie’s face – usually at the moment they take their first sip. So, we built the “cup-cam” – a coffee cup mounted camera designed to capture this moment.

We collected hundreds of a-ha moments, and in combination with UGC promotions, promoted content reminding people to fuel up at the Nespresso tent, and one-to-one outreach to people obviously in need of a one-of-a-kind coffee pick-me-up, created a grassroots uproar of content about Nespresso’s new revolutionary offering.

Results: Aside from demolishing our sampling volume goal for the week, we accomplished something we didn’t think possible – Nespresso “won” SxSW. Nespresso was one of the top 5 most mentioned brands on Twitter that week, joining the likes of Apple (whose iTune’s Music Festival was hosting Lady Gaga and Coldplay), Doritos and Samsung – all who outspent Nespresso considerably.