A lesson in provocation: TABOO pull cheeky stunt during SXSW presentation

At SXSW this week, TABOO’s CEO and managing director, Andrew and James Mackinnon, caused a stir at their session by pulling a cheeky stunt to get the point across clearly.

Their keynote discussed the power of provocation in brand experience, and urged brands to not just meet customer expectations – but to instead challenge and exceed them.

The brothers presenting at SXSW this week

In a packed room of over 300 delegates, the brothers made a pact to enact a live demonstration of their own advice: the brother who loses a viewer, loses a layer – every time an audience member disengaged and left the theatre, the person talking would take off a layer of clothing.

“This is the price we’re prepared to pay for boring you,” Andrew Mackinnon told the crowd.

Throughout the session, the brothers explored the role of human emotion in memory prioritisation and the power brands have in addressing cultural taboos – using case studies from organisations such as Moxie, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and creative studio Bompass & Parr.

Eventually down to just their underwear and singlet, the stunt landed a critical point about brands defying expectations and going beyond their comfort zones to create impact.

“We should be more willing to be uncomfortable and vulnerable than risk being forgettable,” James Mackinnon said.

The presentation was met with a standing ovation, with US marketing leader Mark Shaffer describing it as “one of the most innovative talks [he’s] seen at SXSW”.


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