SXSW – South by Southwest

Amanda Schneider
March 10, 2023 – 8:03 am

As one of the largest festivals of innovation and creativity in the world, South by Southwest brings together thousands of people from different cultures, beliefs and styles each year on the bustling streets of Austin, Texas. However, when it comes to Brazil’s participation in the event, this diversity is not as visible.

Ricardo Silvestre, CEO of Black Influence, attended SXSW for the first time in 2022 (Credit: Disclosure)

Ricardo Silvestre, CEO of Black Influence, who attended SXSW for the first time last year, understands the importance of having minority groups at the event. “That way we can show everyone that this space is ours too”. In an interview with Medium and messagethe director reveals how his first experience at the festival was and what he hopes for this year.

Meio & Mensagem – You were at SXSW for the first time last year. What were your main perceptions of the event? What caught your attention the most?

Ricardo Silvestre – Being at an event of this magnitude for the first time was extremely rewarding, mainly because it was something very far away for me until recently. I knew about the event, I heard about it, I saw my bosses participating, I was influenced by the texts, the pictures and it always stayed in my imagination, so it was a huge personal and professional achievement. I met people, exchanged contacts, absorbed a lot of knowledge, generated content and learned new things. From the inside, I could see the magnitude and importance of the festival and why it is so important to the global creative community. One of the moments that captured my attention the most was seeing Lizzo as one of the event’s keynote speakers on stage, without a hair on his tongue and saying what needed to be said to the world. It was very impressive, mainly because she was a black and fat woman, outside of any standard stereotype. I always compared, thought about how it would be in Brazil and I came to the conclusion that this possibility would not even happen, at least not easily. So that really got my attention, about how our country is lagging behind the rest of the world in that regard.


Lizzo: “If you don’t see tears, you don’t respect joy”

M&M – How did you apply the content you saw at last year’s event in your agency?

Sylvester – I learned a lot at SXSW last year, and those lessons gradually applied at Black Influence. Now we are starting, for example, to explore the field of consulting, so that it is possible to act within companies, with the aim of changing the outdated thinking about diversity, race from the perspective of innovation. This makes a big difference when it comes to getting the campaign message across. For this first half of the year, we are preparing some novelties, also using some inspirations that came from the last festival, which will undoubtedly come from this year as well.

M&M – What are your expectations for this year? Which topics and lectures capture your attention the most?

Sylvester – I’m very excited because it’s an amazing space to learn and share new things, look for trends and further develop the knowledge I already have, translating it into a Black Influence reality and especially sharing it with a community that doesn’t have the opportunity to be in the U event. There are lots of cool things to see and interesting people to meet. In particular, I’m very excited about talking about brand activism: no more business as usual, which has everything to do with my reality at the agency. He will talk about the need for brands to position themselves around important and delicate issues, and that has a lot to do with everything I believe in. I have a few others in mind: “Different creators not getting paid: how to fix this?” and Featured Session with Rohit Bhargava: “15 Unobvious Trends Shaping Our Normal Future”.


Hugh Forrest: SXSW Past, Present and Future

M&M – The Creator Economy is getting more and more space within the SXSW program. Why is this happening? And how can an event like this contribute to this market?

Sylvester – The economy of creators is increasingly taking place not only in the festival program, but also in the market. This is already a reality that we see all over the world. More and more people are inside social networks, with the intention of monetizing this business. Big companies have already invested billions in Creator-focused startups, and this topic will continue to grow for a long time. So, the SXSW schedule is just a reflection of a trend that is already super hot and will stay that way for a long time.

M&M – How important is it that minority groups also have access to big events like SXSW?

Sylvester – When I worked at other agencies, I always saw the same people at these big events. People who occupied the main positions in the company, always with little or no diversity. The importance of the presence of different people at the largest technological, communication and marketing event in the world is that in this way we can show everyone that this space is also ours. That way we can take the lead in this place, share everything we’ve learned during the festival and help other black creators see that one day they can be here too, that this place belongs to them too.


Best of 10, Anne Grecco

M&M – Do you feel the event still lacks diversity and representation?

Sylvester – There is always a flaw and room for improvement, but something caught my attention on this topic. The audience is huge and diverse, including black people from other countries who have been participating in the event for a long time every year, but the scenario changes drastically when we think of Brazilians. Like there are no black Brazilians that could be there. Last year, including some colleagues, I formed probably the largest black Brazilian delegation in the history of the event and that is a good sign. We made history and showed our face to Austin and the world, full of diversity and representation. This year we will rewrite history. And we can change that scenario only in that way, with the intention of agencies and other companies that always send their representatives to events, occupy and conquer those spaces that were always difficult to access and always favored the same group of people, who did not even share their learning. We are in the process of gaining even more importance and this is definitely not happening overnight due to a number of issues. However, we already see that, albeit slowly, some changes are already being made and we will continue in this process of evolution and changes that are so important for the market.

Related posts

Leave a Comment