DigitasLBi Reveals Snowden Gave Top Talk at SXSW Interactive, with 55,082 Social Media Mentions

Austin, TX—March 12, 2014—For the second consecutive year, DigitasLBi, a global marketing and technology agency, collaborated with the organizers of SXSW Interactive to collect and analyze data from social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare to reveal the top talks, tweets, trends and startups of this year’s Festival. The results were unveiled in “The Story of SXSWi 2014: Eye of the Beholder”, a session presented on Tuesday by Jesse Suchmann, Vice President, Creative Director, DigitasLBi.

Most Popular Speakers

Online privacy and surveillance took center stage at SXSW Interactive 2014.  According to data analysis, Edward Snowden gave the top talk, with 55,082 social media mentions. It was the first live teleconference for the NSA whistle-blower, who spoke from Russia where he is in asylum. Coming in second was Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (via Skype), who drew a crowd of nearly 5,000 people. Assange, who was interviewed by The Barbarian Group Chairman Benjamin Palmer, received 20,128 mentions. Assange also received the highest percentage of negative speaker mentions (3%), with complaints of rambling responses due to technical glitches. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who hosts the television show, "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odessy”, came in third place, with 7,102 mentions.

A New Theme Emerges

Whereas last year tech and science themes like 3D printing and space exploration dominated SWSWi, this year politics, surveillance and online privacy took center stage. In a departure from its usual upbeat outlook, the 2014 Festival took on a serious tone, with many sessions focusing on the downside of social media growth and examining the implications of what moving to a world of digitized information means. Assange, Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald, the blogger who last year broke Snowden’s revelations, were part of a “fugitive track” of speakers addressing the audience remotely. The two most buzzed about quotes reflect the focus on politics:

At number one, with 1,126 social media mentions and 1,399 retweets:

@wikileaks #Assange: It became clear to me that one of the best ways to achieve justice is to expose injustice. … #sxsw

The second most retweeted quote was from Snowden, with 1,129 retweets:

@RT_com: #SNOWDEN: We have moved from serving public interest to serving national interest #SXSW

Top Tech Trends

This year’s breakout startups mirrored the privacy theme and the new interest in anonymity. Omlet, the first open chat platform that lets users own and manage their data was the most buzzed about, with 828 mentions, followed by Secret, an anonymous social app, with 761 mentions. In forth place was Avoid Humans, a web app created to provide temporary respite from the SXSW masses, with 544 mentions. Proving that the Festival hasn’t abandoned its enthusiasm for cool tech, Skully Helmets, which pioneers advanced Augmented Reality technology solutions for the head protection industry, received 570 mentions, putting it in third place as the most buzzed-about startup.

3D Printing, Felines and Fun

3D printing was a major attraction at SXSWi this year, especially with foods like candy, chocolate and cookies. Attendees waited in long lines to get a customized Oreo cookie based on Twitter trends.

Felines were in full force at SXSWi 2014. Grumpy Cat made his second appearance at the Festival and once again proved to be one of the most buzzed-about “celebrities”. Not only did Grumpy Cat, with 7,941 mentions, beat out fellow feline Lil Bub, with only 397 mentions, but the number two most-mentioned quote was about Grumpy Cat:

.@RealGrumpyCat journeyed to #SXSWesteros and usurped the Iron Throne at the #GOTExhibit. #SXSW #SXSW14 #holyshrimp

At 1,119 mentions, it beat out Snowden’s quote.

When it comes to food, Milk and Cookies Cronuts was most popular, with 3,473 mentions, and the performance with the highest number of mentions went to Snoop Dog, with 1,110 social media mentions.

To make the session entertaining as well as informative, it was presented as a “Super SXSW 2014 Adventure” game with the three beholders acting as the players. The beholders were winners of a “take me to SXSW” contest sponsored by DigitasLBi sister agency MRY. During the session the audience was challenged to guess which of these buzzwords was a fake: multimodal UX, chicapraneurs, anti-social media or platformification. The answer was platformication; all the others were taken from the event.

Additional DigitasLBi Speakers

In addition to “The Story of SXSWi 2014: Eye of the Beholder”, SXSW Interactive featured additional DigitasLBi speakers including, Dave Marsey, EVP/Managing Director, San Francisco; Baba Shetty, Chief Strategy & Media Officer; and Anne-Marie Kline, SVP, Marketing. The agency also recapped other sessions on its blog,

Digitas Distillery, and features photos from the event on Facebook and Flickr.

Media Contact:

Barbara Nonas


About DigitasLBi

DigitasLBi is a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age. We help companies of all shapes and sizes decide What’s Next… and then we take them there. Also a top ten global agency, DigitasLBi comprises of 6,000 digital and technology experts across 40 offices in 25 countries worldwide.

DigitasLBi North America founded the DigitasLBi NewFront in 2008, a breakthrough program leading the industry conversation about the role digital content can play for marketers. In 2012, the agency successfully founded the Digital Content NewFronts to shape a new market space for original content at scale—an acknowledged competitor in the Upfront marketplace. 

DigitasLBi is a member of Publicis Groupe [listed on the Euronext Paris Exchange – FR0000130577 – and part of the CAC 40 index] is the world’s third largest communications group. With approximately 60,000 professionals spanning 108 countries on five continents, Publicis Groupe offers local and international clients a complete range of communications services. Web site: