By Kaylee Hultgren

Comcast NBCU let fans tap into their creative side with a DIY mural. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)

From augmented reality-enabled audio journeys to a library of President Donald Trump’s tweets to “Project Runway” music videos, we bring you part two in our coverage of SXSW’s opening weekend, March 8-10. What stood out: how many scooters cruised the streets of Austin, how many puppies there were to cuddle, how brand ambassadors’ passion (or lack thereof) for the job could make or break an experience and how, sometimes, demos aren’t always ready for primetime. (More on that a minute.)

Here’s the second installment in our on-the-ground SXSW 2018 coverage highlighting brands that prioritized experiential during weekend one at Austin’s signature fest. Don’t forget to check out part one here.


sxsw-2019_dellDell’s experience, which took over The Sunset Room on 3rd St., focused on its commitment to sustainability, small businesses owners, virtual and augmented reality tools and competitive gaming consoles. The venue’s exterior, painted in vivid blues, pinks and purples with Dell branding, and a Moon Rover VR experience drew in passersby.

For the VR activation, we mounted a space exploration vehicle and “traversed the moon’s cratered surface” for a few minutes through a VR game that asked us to collect moon samples while our seat gyrated and made abrupt twists and turns.

In the next experience, Dell courted small business owners with a contest exclusively for festivalgoers. In a one-minute video recorded within a glass-encased mini office serving as the backdrop, attendees explained how technology has helped propel their small business ideas forward. Prizes included an XPS 13 laptop and a two-month hot desk membership at WeWork.

An eye-catching photo op featuring wings made of recycled Dell machine parts called attention to how the brand has been using nearly 100 million pounds of recycled materials since 2012. On the opposite wall was an art piece made with pollution ink (soot from diesel generators in New Delhi) which Dell uses to print on 125,000 boxes per month in India. A bar served beverages, and lounge furniture and tables provided space for networking. Within that space, a big screen projected panels and talks on AI, animation, VR, sound mixing, and more, as they happened live in an adjacent studio.

Other touchpoints included a Dell Cinema area that featured three floor-to-ceiling pods showcasing the sound, color and streaming capabilities of Dell laptops through nature documentaries. There was also a gaming station featuring the new Legend design for Dell’s Alienware product the Area-51m and Dell Precision mobile work stations where attendees could draw freehand onto the screen and interact with a real-life avatar through VR. Rounding out the experience was a VR experience that walked attendees through Dell’s commitment to sustainability with three increasingly difficult games. Agency: Lacy Maxwell Experiential, San Francisco.

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