Simplee, a startup that makes sense out of medical bills, is unsurprisingly attending SXSW this year. Sure, the company could have blended into the crowd, with flyers, swag and a ton of PR emails, but instead they chose to do something that’s actually powerful:

Simplee launched Headaches & Hangovers, which is both a brilliant marketing idea and a genuine way of making the SXSW Interactive experience that much better for participants. It’s a free medical street team (the Simplee Squad), so if you find your self dehydrated in the Texas heat, hungry when all the places to eat are packed or simply hungover, the Simplee Squad of nursing and pre-med students are qualified to get you out of your funk.

The best part? Since SXSW is so expensive, Simplee Squad help is free. All you need to do is tweet the hashtag #sxswhelp or @Simpleehealth, and they come to you. The team will distribute free food, water, medicine and energy drinks from sponsors including Zico, Kate’s Real Food, Body Armor, LARABAR, I AM Healthy, SunRay Waters, BumbleBar, Two Degrees, That’s It and Raw Revolution.

Screen Shot 2012 03 06 at 12.59.25 PM 520x263 Headaches & Hangovers: a brilliant marketing idea for SXSW that does good

But how did the startup come up with the idea? Simplee tells TNW:

Last year, I went to SXSW to launch a website called Urthots. From that experience, I knew “traditional” marketing wasn’t effective at SXSW and annoys everyone. Parties are overdone and do little for branding, same with food trucks. To get over the noise, you have to solve a problem for SXSW attendees and do it in a remarkable way. It is hard to “buy” attention, you had to create value.

Since Simplee is a startup consumed by making healthcare easier for users, I wanted to bring that passion for helping people with their health to SXSW. I called my friend Paul Anunda (he is a developer in Austin) to hear from an Austin native. He used to work in the CVS in downtown Austin. He told me that SXSW attendees come into CVS all hours of the day looking to get rid of their hangovers and common ailments. I made the connection. I do not drink, but I knew beer and drinking was a huge part of SXSW. The preverbal wisdom is “no one goes to the panel” and SXSW is all about the parties. I also knew, from other friends still in college (I am 23), that pre-med and nursing students need to fulfill every semester at least 50 community service hours. Why not have a cool service opportunity like a hangover squad to fulfill that requirement?

I took the problem and ran with it. I called over 120 companies and called a ton of organizations at UT Austin. Here I am today with ten corporate sponsors, over 100 volunteers, and enough donated product to help with at least 15,000 hangovers.

Headaches & Hangovers really is an awesome concept that’s sure to bring heaps of attention to Simplee. There’s nothing traditional about this “campaign,” and it actually solves a real problem.

For startups, it’s important to take this example to heart, because emails and stickers can only get you so far. If you’re an innovative company, you need an innovative campaign. Push yourself to do something that gets attention without pissing everyone off. It’s easier said than done, but if you want to stand out, you have to do something that deserves it.

➤  Headaches & Hangovers