Defiance Village at SXSW 2013

In support of the launch of Syfy’s premiere transmedia property, Defiance, Sub Rosa created “Defiance Village” — a unique installation and experience at SXSW that generated substantial awareness and engagement via a physical environment and interactive realization of the property’s themes.
Online promotion and a four-day activation garnered more than 55 million media impressions and thousands of live participants.

Client Conversation


In 2013, Syfy was preparing to premiere Defiance – the channel’s first property to be launched simultaneously as both a “massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (MMORPG) and a television show. As a result, the brand needed a public and exciting activation to drive attention and anticipation around the new and inventive property.

It had to have a hook, it had to be big and bold, it had to be PR-able, and it had to appeal to consumers and industry. And that's what this did. Dana Ortiz, Vice President of Brand Marketing



Every year one of the challenges SXSW attendees encounter is the lack of local accommodations. Drawing a parallel between this and the premise of Defiance (which takes place in the “post-post apocalypse” where resources are finite and survival is dire in the harsh rebuilding era), Sub Rosa created a bespoke environment providing visitors with a direct experience of Defiance.

This was a true land-speed record. Permitting a pop-up hotel in Austin, dropping in shipping containers and building out an elaborate set, all in less than a month was something else. Kris Kowal, Spatial Design and Activation Director

Our Work


Sub Rosa designed a shanty-town experience on the ground in the heart of Austin, Texas, immersing consumers and viewers in the spirit of the game. Thus, the Defiance Village was born.

Complete with shipping-container hostels, a trading post, a custom-designed and wrapped food truck, and experimental classes like “combat yoga” — the experience brought to life themes from the pages of Defiance, to SXSW.

Leading up to the event, a digital contest on Syfy’s social-media channels awarded select participants a stay in one of the hostel rooms and the opportunity to live in the activation during their time at SXSW.

Fans, journalists and even actors from the show called the Defiance Village home for a few days. The experience generated anticipation for Syfy’s launch among followers and via significant media impressions.



Syfy’s Defiance Village received 55.5 million media impressions, while hosting thousands of attendees over the 4-day activation.

The brand’s dedication to social media in the lead-up to the launch of Defiance also proved successful, accumulating 160 million Klout program impressions, and with an average dwell time of more than 25 minutes, the experience was one of the most highly attended and well received at SXSW 2013.

55.5 million media impressions, while hosting thousands of attendees over the 4-day activation.