As Busy Philipps kicked off her live Busy Tonight show at the Comcast NBCU house during SXSW, the actress/ talk show host had a good ol’ time making fun of the term activations. “Do you feel ACTIVATED?” she asked the crowd. “I feel activated!”

And that wasn’t the only fun she poked at the festival. She summed up SXSW like this:

“When mega corporations and studio executives and movie companies come in taking over your town, riding their scooters with their Apple watches, like little vultures.”

Well, what can we say to that except… truth. But we love it. Obviously.

So, without further adieu, let’s dive into the five best mega corporation installations we experienced at this year’s festival.

Game of Thrones Bleed For the Throne Event

HBO has had a large presence at the festival for many years now, though never quite as a big of a presence as they did in 2018 when they created an entire Westworld experience that included a bus ride out to an abandoned Western town, which you entered through a train car upon arrival. Read more about that here.

This year, they took a more charitable approach, kicking off their Bleed For The Throne campaign with the American Red Cross. Billed as the largest blood donation promotional effort by an entertainment company in American Red Cross history, the SXSW blood drive included an immersive activation.

After donating blood, guests walked in the steps of four characters: Arya, Cersei, Jon Snow and Tyrion. You then stood before the red ladies at the Iron Throne to be recognized and rewarded for your bravery. I was a bit confused as to why the red ladies were involved, and why I was instructed to not to kneel, but whatever, it was fun. Oh, that reward? A hand of the king style pin.

From there, we were led into the yard where characters from each of the realms wandered about and spoke with guests, who were treated to beverages and burgers from Shake Shack.

Not as incredible as the Westworld experience, but it was entertaining for sure.

Audible’s Head Will Roll Night Realm Tavern

As our pal Lola wrote her guest contributor recap of the event, the Audible event had our heads rolling into another time, medieval times that is. You can read more about her thoughts on the event here.

Good Omens Gardens of Earthly Delights

Amazon Prime Video brought armageddon to Austin to celebrate the highly anticipated premiere of novel-turned-series Good Omens. In the Garden of Earthly Delights, fans were treated to multiple photo ops, a scavenger style hunt for free swag, free drinks and food and, my favorite part, a puppy pen full of hell beasts. I’m not sure I walked away knowing a whole lot about the new series, but I definitely had a good time with my pals at the event. Good Omens premieres May 31 on Amazon Prime.

The Comcast NBCU House

We spent quite some time at the Comcast NBCUniversal House. That’s because there was a constant cycle of programming happening there, as well as celebs popping in and out for press interviews (though they were tucked away upstairs, fans were able to get a peek at the actors as they entered and exited the site). Some highlights from the experience include a Project Runway video op, Michael’s desk from The Office, the aforementioned Busy Tonight event, the ladies of Late Night giving advice, various sessions with Rotten Tomatoes, and more.

If you were lucky, you could even spot a celeb in the audience enjoying the evening alongside other festival goers. We sat right in front of Sophia Bush whom you may recognize from One Tree Hill and Chicago PD.

Fast Company Grill/ Inc. Founders House

The Fast Company Grill has been one of our favorite weekend one spots for years. And this year they brought along Inc. for an adjacent Founders House. Both installations included daily talks, demos, food and drinks. Celebrities like Matthew McConaughey, Ravi Patel, Pamela Adlon and Phylicia Rashad took part in panels and Chilli from TLC even gave the crowd a little performance following her chat. Companies that took the time to tell their stories and inspire attendees included Tecovas, Trunk Club, Bonobos, Shopify, Bumble, Alice, Hinge and Milk Bar, among others.


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