SXSW – South by Southwest

Giovan Orefica
March 12, 2023 – 8 in the morning

Journalist, entrepreneur, consultant and activist. The variety of occupations assigned to Monique Evelle corresponds to the multiple aspects that South by Southwest presents each year. As the focus of the festival lately, Monique gives people a special look when inserted into business, communication and everyday experiences.

(Credit: Giovana Oréfica)

This year, his presence in Austin is based on interests in the topics of the creative economy – with a Brazilian escort in the segment – in addition to health and the future of work. In addition, there is a new meaning in her perception of the content offered here, but she still emphasizes a greater appreciation of what is being said abroad compared to what is happening in Brazil.

In between lectures, Monique spoke with Meio & Mensagem about applying the luggage received at the event back to Brazil, accessibility and innovation:

Meio & Mensagem – How long have you been coming to the festival? In recent years, he has focused more on issues related to culture and society. What is your opinion on this?
Monique Evelle – This is my second year here at SXSW, the first was in 2019, and I remember at that time being with some people from the communications market who came and others who didn’t talk about I don’t know if I was frustrated or if the discussions did not meet the expectations I had. These were topics that we have been discussing in Brazil for a long time, but that the advertising market and the Brazilian communication market are coming, they are heard repeatedly, but they add more value and agree when the speech, advice and perceptions come from people who attend SXSW. That’s the feeling I had in 2019. Now, I’m coming here in 2023 and I’m thinking, yes, they’re more focused on issues related to culture and society. There is an important point and that is: discussions related to culture and societies that will change the game, because we have been discussing techniques, hard skills, etc. for a long time, but there are other motivators and other possibilities that we can understand if we can make changes, whether we think about the world of work or other spheres that pass through culture and society. When we talk about hard skills, we forget that, apart from soft skills, there are deep skills, which have to do with motivation, happiness and so on. So when we start talking about culture, social relations, we understand behavior at the end of the day, and behavior has to do with people. We left only technical logic behind and realized that we need to look for and think about solutions and bring people results at the end of the day. We can bring more agility to solutions when we start targeting these pillars.

M&M – About technology, how can it be applied in projects with social impact?
Monique – It’s important to understand that it’s the same as any other project, any other company, because, at the end of the day, technology is a medium and we need to understand what we’re going to do with technology to achieve something. What is the proposed goal? When we think about social impact projects, we assume that we want to influence as many people as possible, because our solution has to do with social welfare, it is good for everyone. So society benefits from the solution created by the social impact project. So in this particular case, technology can be a great tool to scale solutions and bring more results to people at the end of the day, which is what I mentioned earlier about culture, society and behavior. In the end, it will always return positively to people. The mentality of using technologies, especially digital ones, in a social impact project is to increase the scale of solutions and positive results that we can bring, instead of just positively impacting the same people, I’m talking about impacting a thousand, 10 thousand, 100 thousand or who knows, millions of people.

M&M – You are participating in initiatives related to the Creator Economy at SXSW. Why is the topic gaining so much importance? What is the most important when talking about the Brazilian market compared to the international market?
Monique – Regarding the creative economy, there is an important point, which is the change in the market. We had a blogger phase, going through celebrities, creators and creatives, and now we are talking about a universe with artificial intelligence, algorithms, avatars and other technologies of this new world. The topic is becoming more and more relevant because we have examples of content creators who have not stopped in time and the logic of monetization exclusively through advertising and media. I’m talking about creators who have created their own companies and expanded their portfolio of services and products. That is, they used brand building strategies to enhance their creations. On March 10, SXSW hosted a panel titled “Diverse Creators Are Underpaid: How to Fix It?” (Many Creators Are Underpaid: How Can We Fix It?, free translation), at SXSW. And my first question at the end of the table was: how are brands thinking about ensuring equal pay for black, brown, indigenous and white content creators? It is noted that the financial and salary difference between black and white content creators is not exclusive to the Brazilian scenario, but also to the international scenario. Despite the uneven scenario, I believe that when thinking about the future of business, the next profitable, sustainable and lasting companies are most likely to be founded by content creators.

M&M – Work with brands to bring innovation to their business. What is your focus at the festival to show companies in Brazil
Monique – My intention at SXSW is to reinforce the obvious and what I’ve already shared with the companies and people I work with. This is because it brings credibility from the outside, but it is still no guarantee that I will be heard. There is resistance in what is unknown and never done before. Decoding the possible paths, through my baggage and the insights of other experts, may be one way to bring greater understanding to organizations.

M&M – SXSW is still a very elitist festival. How is it possible to bring greater accessibility to what it offers?
Monique – I am very concerned when I hear from some attendees, especially Brazilians, that SXSW is diverse. In part it is. After all, it is a festival that brings together people from all over the world. But still the card has a high value, when we think about Latin America, our currency is not the dollar and so on. Every year, non-white Brazilian communication, technology and innovation professionals submit campaigns and requests to major companies and agencies to participate in SXSW. It happens every year. Companies and agencies that have signed an internal and public commitment to diversity and inclusion go out of their way to guarantee the presence of these professionals at an event like SXSW. Today we have a main sponsor in southern Brazil. This sponsor has already started making some changes, such as providing translations from English to Portuguese for some panels and lectures. Given that English is a barrier for many people and that Brazilians are part of the largest delegation at the event, this change is necessary. I hope that this transformation will continue in future editions.

M&M – What panels and topics are you planning to see (or have you already seen) and what topics are most appealing to you?
Monique – On the first day, I watched an amazing panel on what to say when the world ends, with Kate Childs Graham and Jeff Shesol, from West Wing Writers, discussing the importance of engaging business leaders in social and political issues. One of the things they brought up that is always good to emphasize to companies is that words really do have power, action is super important and we can’t ignore the need for accountability after a crisis. Other tables and lectures I intend to attend include topics related to the creator economy, health and the future of work.

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