The first few days of SXSW are all about attending panels that will make you think, and seeing films that make you laugh, cry, and shriek from fear. But another huge part of the festival is waiting in line, roaming the exhibit halls, and going to parties where people hand out swag that is sometimes useful, sometimes useless, sometimes wonderful, and sometimes weird, all creatively designed to get your attention. Here, the superlatives of the stuff that made it back to NYC in my suitcase.
1. Most Ubiquitous: SXSW Festival Bags
Each year, SXSW commissions artists to design bags for the festival’s badgeholders. Interactive, film, and music each have their own bags; because I had a gold badge, I nabbed film (above), which was designed by Jay Ryan, and interactive (below), which was designed by Jessica Hagy. Fun fact: In 1998, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone designed the interactive bags!
2. Weirdest: Vampire Diaries 3D Ian Somerhalder T-Shirt
At a party for the CW network, my friends and I put on costumes and posed as supervillains Admiral Joe, Naughty Frostbite, and Horrible Q-7000 (me!) respectively:
— Erin McCarthy (@erincmccarthy) March 11, 2013
We also got custom screen-printed Vampire Diaries t-shirts. But the weirdest piece of swag I picked up was a large tee with Ian Somerhalder’s face printed on it in anaglyph 3D. They were on a table in front of a huge anaglyph 3D painting of the actor, who was also there, in the flesh, standing next to the portrait. It was pretty surreal all around.
3. Most Blasphemous: This Record Sleeve
I don’t remember Johnny Cash looking quite like this. I picked this up at the CW party; it’s a real record, and a promotion for 99 Tigers. Slogan: "Rock Your Brand."
4. Most Nostalgic: National Geographic Channel Slap Bracelet
Ladies dressed in the finest ‘80s fashions—leg warmers, sweat bands, and so much neon—handed these out while I was waiting in line for Much Ado About Nothing. I immediately slapped it on, because slap bracelets are still cool.
5. Biggest “Um, What?!??”: Underwear
Behold the underwear I picked up in the press room, a gift from GoToMeeting. One size fits all. (Also given away: Anaglyph 3D glasses, pens, huge dog treats.) Thanks?
6. Best Photobooth: The Iron Throne
Nearly every party has a photobooth, but I got my favorite snapshot souvenir in the convention center next to the Vimeo theater. Watch out, Lannisters—I’m no Targaryen, but I’m coming for the Iron Throne!
7. Best Investment: Moon Property
After I interviewed the filmmakers behind Lunarcy!, they were nice enough to give me the deed to the first parcel of land I’ve ever owned: one acre on the Moon. Now all I need to do is figure out how to get there, and I’ll have a nice little vacation spot.
8. Coolest Drinking-Related Accessory: Space Camp Coozy
After I snapped a picture with TOPPS, a person in a giant inflatable astronaut suit, I nabbed one of these cool coozies, which I plan to use on everything it will fit on.
Which one of these pieces of swag would you want, and why?