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I have seen the future of retail and it looks like an Oreo

When B. Bonin Bough leaned toward the microphone in a standing-room-only meeting room at 9:30 Monday morning, his voice crackled as if his lungs were clearing out a pickup truck's worth of rusty nails.

"Sorry," he apologized. "It was a long night last night."

It was only the first of multiple occasions on which Bough, the V.P. of Global Media and Consumer Engagement at Mondelēz International, sparked raucous laughter from the crowd. I don't know if I'd normally expect an audience that came to hear a panel on changing demographics, retail sales and ad budgets to be so approving of late night carousing, but that, I guess, is SXSW in a nutshell.

Once his voice cleared, Bonin proceeded to show why there wasn't an empty seat in the house with his incisive analysis of how social media, mobile technology and personalization data were remaking the retail landscape. As he did so, he solved a minor mystery for me: Why Oreo was such a huge presence at SXSW 2013. Yahoo and Esurance, sure. Pepsi and Doritos -- they're everywhere, all the time.. But Oreo? At a tech conference?

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