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SXSW 2019: 5 Things We Saw in the Amplify Philly House

Philadelphia — like many cities, states and countries — has set up an outpost in Austin this weekend. Sponsored by tech companies and other local stakeholders, the idea is to promote the city as a tech hub.

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Every year, SXSW is home to a collection of cities, states and countries in miniature.

Taking the form of jurisdiction-branded houses and lounges, they occupy bars, vacant lots and restaurants for the weekend in Austin. Sponsored by local stakeholders ranging from tech companies to universities to the chamber of commerce, the idea is to promote geographic areas as good homes for startup companies, technologists and entrepreneurs. Thousands of those folks flock to Central Texas for the conference, creating an invaluable opportunity to advertise a city en masse.

We’ve seen more than a half-dozen (and counting) at SXSW so far. Here’s a quick glimpse at five things we saw inside the Amplify Philly house, which took over a bar called Pour Choices on Austin’s entertainment corridor, Sixth Street.

  1. Free Swag — A crucial ingredient for any SXSW installation looking to be remembered, the Amplify Philly house had plenty of free swag, from T-shirts to sunglasses to pens, all branded for Philadelphia or the tech companies located there.
  2. Local Tech Sponsor Companies — A varied list of local sponsors made the Amplify Philly house possible, and many of them had their brands, products and initiatives on display. The list includes Comcast NBCUniversal, Arcweb, Guru, Independence Blue Cross, Vanguard and academic institutions like Thomas Jefferson University and Temple.
  3. Panels — The Amplify Philly House, like many of the location-branded installations, hosted a series of panels upstairs above the bar area, including How IoT is Shaping the Future of Cities, Leading Women: Who Run the World? Girls, and The Civics of Art and Music.
  4. LOVE Park — To reach the panels upstairs, guests had to walk past a mounted screen in the corner showing videos on a loop of skateboards pulling tricks in Philadelphia’s iconic LOVE Park, the one with the big red LOVE sign.
  5. Eagles Football on TV — In the Amplify Philly House, there are about a half-dozen TV screens mounted above the bar, alternating between promo documentaries about Philadelphia and a replay of a Philadelphia Eagles football game, perhaps the single boldest move to establishing a Philadelphia outpost deep in the heart of Dallas Cowboys country.
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine