Comedy Central returned to SXSW in Austin to host its annual free Backyard Bash—full of Comedy Central show-related games, activities and merch for fans of such programs as Broad City, Corporate, Drunk History and more.
The on-the-ground activation has been held for the past five years at Pelons/508 Tequila Bar at 802 Red River Street on the final two days of the festival. Comedy Central also hosted and had executives on several panels, and it sponsored two shows at Esther’s Follies as part of SXSW Comedy.
“This started off as an event where we wanted to do something very modular, where we could always be adding new pieces,” said Shawn Silverman, senior vice president, brand marketing, Comedy Central.
Upon entering – and usually the free event has an hour- or two-wait to get in – fans are given a wrist band with two free drink tickets and they can help themselves to a taco or two. While enjoying their drink, they can participate in lots of activities located throughout the venue’s many nooks and crannies.
People dressed as characters from history can be dunked in the Drunk History dunk tank, which gets more popular as the weather heats up – and on Friday in Austin the thermometer climbed to a humid 90 degrees. They can get insulting nicknames from the nickname caricature generator, which was borrowed from another Comedy Central activation: The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library. They also can get temporary tattoos, make friendship bracelets, play giant Jenga and spin a wheel to win swag.
There’s a sponsor, Mountain Dew, who provides a few activities as well as phone-charging stations that allow people to lock up their phones and charge them for a few moments while they relax and hang out at the house. Mountain Dew’s digital crew also was on hand to capture the event.
“People get really excited about interacting with shows and our brands,” said Silverman. “Austin continues to get bigger and more people come here. Everyone is trying to find space around here. Acting like a music brand doesn’t make sense for us, but this gives everyone a daytime activity to recharge and refresh before they go to their next activity.”
Since 2014, Comedy Central has been working to more actively bring its brand and series to fans on the ground, through events such as SXSW 2018, San Diego Comic-Con, and this June, the second annual Clusterfest in San Francisco.