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At Smith Brothers, we look at every communication touchpoint as an opportunity. To increase awareness. To drive consumer engagement. And to do something pretty cool. So when we were asked to design a simple trade show booth, we knew we wanted to dial it up to “Wow!”

Okay, it’s the 2018 SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, and UPMC has the opportunity to reach over 75,000 trade show attendees at the Health Expo—a four-day exhibition where participants from all over the world vie for the attention of health care providers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and investors.


For UPMC, the opportunity to present themselves as innovators who seek to challenge and change the status quo in health care was enormous. We wanted UPMC to stand out in an environment that was typically a sea of sameness as far as the eye can see.

Our approach to designing and creating the booth was unconventional, to say the least — bringing it to life with augmented reality and an app. Here’s how it worked. Visitors would hover their iPads over certain areas of the booth, and right before their eyes, the panels would animate and display video content.

We even designed and 3D-printed a large scale topographical model with three distinct “footprints” in the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Oakland, Shadyside and Uptown, neighborhoods where UPMC is investing heavily in building new hospitals of the future. In augmented reality, these “footprints” turned into hospital buildings, actually rising from the ground up – a figurative and literal way to demonstrate UPMC’s  commitment to taking health care to the next level.

This year’s SXSW Interactive Festival saw a 26% increase over last year’s in booth displays and sessions around AR, VR and Mixed Reality. While these emerging technologies are slowly being adopted at the consumer level, here at Smith Brothers, we’re constantly pushing the boundaries for clients such as UPMC to go out there and give folks – often for the first time ever – experiences in augmented and virtual reality.

Albert Einstein famously said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” We’re happy to think outside of the box – outside of this reality even – and reach audiences in ways they’ll never forget.

Smith Brothers
Smith Brothers

Tinker. Meddle. Find what works – this time! While most agencies stand behind a single, definitive approach to developing work, we reject the notion of process as a static thing. We consider a deep understanding of the client’s business, their consumer and especially their category to be fundamental to our process. Non-negotiable. But getting to the best work is seldom a straight shot – a linear path. And it shouldn’t be. When you kick off every project by asking, “What are the category conventions and how can we break them?” you have to be open to a fresh approach.