Like the ever-changing skyline of a thriving metropolis, South-By-Southwest will have a different look this year, as Doritos’ infamous vending machine stage will no longer pierce the sky of downtown Austin with bold flavor.
A new report by Austin’s Business Journal says that some bigger brands are staying away from the March 13 to 22 interactive, film, and music festival as permits tighten for outdoor shows and concerts. One of those brands is Doritos, which for the past few years has towered over music fans, literally, with its massive, 62-foot, four-story, LCD-screened vending machine stage used to market its “Bold” campaign.
Major brands such as Doritos are staying away from Austin during South By Southwest this year, in part because of concerns about increased scrutiny by city officials on large outdoor events. In interviews with the Austin Business Journal, several events professionals said they’ve seen a decline in business for this year’s festival compared to recent years, with glitzy and expensive activations harder to come by.
“There’s definitely been a hit in terms of business for South By, but thankfully I have other contracts with clients throughout the year to carry me through,” said Danielle Thomas, owner of the Big Green House event and marketing company, whose clients last year included Facebook.
Last year Doritos infamously paid Lady Gaga $2.5 million to brand the stage, though she ended up performing at nearby Stubb’s BBQ after permits for her outdoor vending machine set were denied by the city. The stage, at 500 Red River Street, has hosted live performances by Ludacris, Far East Movement, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Hood Internet and dozens of others, and was “powered by tweets” back in 2013.
With Doritos officially out of SXSW this year, no word on how this will affect the free Taco Bell “Doritos Locos” tacos everyone survived on in 2014.