The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival is trying something new this year. In hopes of ensuring that every person who attends will miss no opportunity to snap a selfie or record their favorite performances because of a dead battery, SXSW is going to the dogs. The event, held each year in Austin, Texas, showcases interactive media, films and music. The festival begins on March 13 this year and will close on March 22. The sheer length of the performances and events makes it difficult to keep cellphones charged and at the ready, but this year, in case of a failing battery, it may be best to seek out a St. Bernard instead of an outlet.
In cooperation with mophie, a company which manufactures portable batteries which can be charged and then tapped to add life to a device, the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation will provide a new service to attendees of SXSW on March 13 to March 15. On these days, from noon to 7:00 p.m. on the hour, a rescue team of 12 St. Bernards, consisting of nine adults and three puppies dubbed the mophieRescue Team, will be brought out into the crowd. SXSW festival-goers will have to tweet the hashtag #mophieRescue to @mophie with a screenshot of their dwindling battery and their location for a chance to be selected to meet up with a St. Bernard and charge their phone.
According to vice president of marketing for mophie, Russ Howe, precautions have been taken in order to ensure the safety of the dogs at SXSW. Howe explained that each dog is limited to “one or two” forays into the crowd each day. The participating dogs will be rescues who are comfortable in crowds of people and whose owners are on board with the idea. In addition, the St. Bernards used will be dogs who live in Texas and are used to the heat.
The dogs will be accompanied by a human at all times, and festival attendees can enter to win a prize by spotting one of them, snapping a photo of themselves with the dog and tweeting it. At the close of SXSW, some of the St. Bernards will be available for adoption.
Mophie has been a part of SXSW for multiple years, and has built a reputation for charging almost-depleted batteries for SXSW attendees. Howe said that mophie decided to team up with the National St. Bernard Foundation this year not only to help in their efforts to charge batteries, but to help the dogs themselves find good homes. “The idea is,” he said, “mophie and the St. Bernards save the people of SXSW. The people of SXSW save the St. Bernards.”
The marketing manager for the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation said the foundation is “thrilled” to use the partnership with mophie as part of their efforts to place the dogs in good, loving homes. Olive Ashwell continued, “There’s a shared sense of passion between both our organizations as this amazing partnership launches at SXSW.”
The decision by mophie to use dogs at SXSW has generated mostly positive feedback for the festival, which has made some dicey decisions in years prior. In 2012, the festival employed the homeless to act as wireless hotspots; a move which quickly created an uproar. Even with the addition of mophie’s charger-bearing St. Bernards, attendees are advised to bring a charger, as the dogs will not be able to reach everybody whose device needs a recharge.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Image by Murilo Cardoso – Flickr License