As a creative agency in Austin, SXSW is a goldmine. The annual festival and convention brings the top creatives from around the globe to the Texas capital, making it the perfect environment for learning, networking and, yes, collaborating.

How we staged a creative, collaborative coup at UK House, SXSW23

This year, we used our expertise and connections to champion collaboration among creative agencies and the advertising & marketing communities here in Austin, across the US and over in the UK.

But before we get into the events of March 11th, let’s talk about why we did it.

Why collaboration not competition


“If you want to go fast, you go alone.

If you want to go far, you go together” Patagonia 


Collaboration has been a hot topic for years, and it seems to be building momentum post-Covid. Purpose driven brands, thought leaders and creative professionals are prioritizing collaboration over competition because they understand that being collaborative internally within their teams and externally with other professionals, brands and agencies may be the answer to some of the more challenging issues we are collectively facing.


But why is collaboration important? Why should we see others as potential partners instead of competitors?  

In simple terms:


“Collaboration is the creation of an original piece of art from the efforts of two or more people. It’s combining skill sets to make something new where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Michael Riley, Partnerships at Uber eats


Benefits include:

  • New friends and business relationships
  • New audiences
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased confidence
  • Breaking down of walls – bringing people together to deal with bigger challenges
  • More creative brain power for the client.

When you look at it like that, collaboration seems like the obvious answer to navigating many of the challenges we collectively face, whether economic, political or societal post pandemic.

Friends and Allies – Networking and Collaboration

You may or may not know this, but Kat, our co-founder, is originally from the UK. And K&C have ongoing working relationships with brands, creative agencies and digital agencies based there.  

Also, as a specialist in new business, Kat is a proven networker and connector.  People, passion, purpose and creativity is what she lives for and what she’s best at.  

It therefore seemed like a no-brainer to organize a mixer where the creative marketing and advertising communities in the US and the UK could get together and talk about their similarities and differences in the spirit of making the work and the industry better.

So, with our friends the American Advertising Federation (AAF), and allies The UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG), we hosted a great roundtable discussion at UK House

Thought Leaders in the UK House

We curated the best senior leaders from the world of brand, advertising and marketing to discuss the future of the creative economy and what that means for growth and collaboration across both markets. 

We had representatives from the Hahn Agency, Nomad, Talent Republic, Austin FC, Escape Pod, Anything is Possible, Umbrella and many more.

Each of the 4 tables included 10-12 guests and a moderator. Our esteemed moderators were Kathleen Lucente from Red Fan Communications, Lisa Bennett from Dell, Ari Levine from Tumblr and Rachel Weiner from MKTG Sports & Entertainment .

Hopefully, you’re beginning to get the picture of the enormous amount of talent we had in the room at one time.


Creative collaboration works

These contributors were open and giving with their opinions and insights. They understood the value of the conversation and the potential for future collaboration. 

Some of the themes discussed were, risk taking, making time for play (or “recess” as Gel blaster calls it), failure as a tool for progress and the differences and similarities between the industry in the UK and USA.

The event was a huge success and the feedback we received was very positive. Here are a couple of our favorites:


We had a great conversation this morning, about how post COVID, we have a much more open collaborative world for creativity. And actually there is a lot more opportunity globally for us to work with different agencies and really benefit from the new digital tools that we’ve all become used to over the last 2 years.” David Ball, Brandfuel


“Our table talked a lot about businesses having the tools and framework to take risks, especially as the economy is evolving and our marketplace is evolving, being able to take educated risks that allows failure, but also allows us to have learnings…. ” Rachel Weiner – Vice President, MKTG Sports & Entertainment 


The conversations were inspiring and suggested there may be a shift in creative business culture. Perhaps post pandemic, we are more open to being authentic and vulnerable. Maybe this is why some companies are choosing collaboration over competition and purpose over profit.

Collaborative working is second nature to K&C. Whether that means collaborating on an event like this, consulting with other ad agencies or working with brands who need additional creative perspectives and knowledge, we thrive in these types of relationships, and our clients do, too, 

So, if you want to collaborate or just want to have a chat, get in touch.