shipt-sxsw-2024-shopper chopper handouts

Going Guerrilla at SXSW: Three Lessons from Shipt

“We wanted to take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to reach such a large-scale, diverse audience to drive awareness and buzz for Shipt, but importantly, in service of creating connection with consumers. Our whole differentiator is bringing the human connection back to online shopping, and we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring that brand positioning to life.”

–Allison Stadd, SVP-Brand, Culture and Media, Shipt

Shipt sxsw 2024_cooler driver

Shipt peppered the streets of Austin with its motorized Cruizin’ Coolers.

Brands have a history of producing extravagant, budget-busting activations designed to cut through the clutter at SXSW, but sometimes it’s the smaller, nimbler campaigns that make the biggest splash. Case in point: Shipt’s multipronged guerrilla marketing strategy at the 2024 show. During the festival’s opening weekend (March 8-10), the delivery service’s street teams infiltrated downtown Austin, dishing out useful freebies designed to provide “relief” to festivalgoers while spotlighting the convenience of same-day deliveries.

The stars of the campaign were Shipt’s motorized “Cruizin’ Coolers” and “Shopper Choppers” (oversized, street-ready grocery carts), which inspired a flood of UGC and on-the-ground buzz. Four pairs of the vehicles roamed around the city, operated by green-clad brand ambassadors who loosely followed the SXSW shuttle route, and cruised up and down event lines, to deliver festival essentials like cold Celsius energy drinks, sunglasses, sunscreen and hand fans.

By the end of its run at South by, Shipt had bypassed its in-person and digital KPIs, and determined that at least 50 percent of its SXSW social content was user-generated.

“We were able to blanket the whole area without having to be anchored to one brick-and-mortar location,” says Allison Stadd, svp-brand, culture and media at Shipt. “So what was exciting to us is that ability to leverage our high-touch human connection preference of how we activate in general, and then have the benefit of spreading Shipt far and wide.”

To dig deeper into the strategy, we sat down with Stadd to gather tips on going guerrilla at a global tentpole. (Agency: Factory360)

Shipt sxsw 2024_chopper by rainbow building

Shipt often parked by Tau Ceti, Austin’s 10-story mural, located by the convention center.

audible-after-dark-party-sxsw24_teaserMore SXSW 2024 Coverage:

Align Demographics

Over the course of SXSW each year, more than 300,000 people pass through Austin. For Shipt, the culture-forward audience aligns well with its existing customer base, and by activating at the event, the brand increases the likelihood of attracting more of its target demo.

“We felt like there was a really great psychographic match for us with the South by attendee base and our Shipt target audience,” says Stadd. “There are 300,000-plus people from all walks of life who are there to celebrate innovation, culture and creativity, and those things are so important to us at Shipt internally, but also what we see reflected in our consumers.”


Build a Flexible Agenda

Without a property to call home at SXSW this year, Shipt had to be clever about where and when it had a presence, which required plenty of flexibility from teams on the ground. Each day of the activation, the brand leveraged social listening on TikTok, Instagram, Discord and X to determine where the most foot traffic was around Austin, then followed the hype.

“We tried to approach this nimbly,” Stadd says. “Every morning we would discuss where we wanted to set up, and we would leverage social listening to help determine that… Then we would plan out the day to divide and conquer between the Shopper Chopper and the Cruizin’ Cooler pairs, so that allowed us to make a game plan, if you will, for each day.”


Deliver Value

Sure, Shipt’s motorized coolers and freebies made a spectacle that generated buzz, but it wasn’t just for the sake of turning heads. A core objective was to deliver products that consumers not only wanted to keep, but also provided value in the moment.

“Our tagline is ‘Delight in Every Delivery’ and the goal for the Cruizin’ Coolers and the Shopper Choppers was to deliver relief—whether it’s branded water, sunscreen, fans or Celsius energy drinks—trying to legitimately bring relief and value to people. So it’s this really photographable spectacle, but it’s also useful,” Stadd says. “That’s how we try and think about marketing in general; it’s being really tuned in to what people care about, what’s relevant to them and then meeting them where they’re at.”


‘Cruize’ Around the Activation:

Photo credit: Max Photography

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

Receive the latest news and special announcements from Event Marketer


© 2024 Access Intelligence, LLC – All Rights Reserved. |