LBB: Los York Collaborates with Comcast on Interactive Showcase for ‘Lift Zones’ at SXSW

The Comcast initiative, which was created in response to pandemic, wins SXSW’s People’s Choice Award

Los Angeles-based creative studio Los York partnered with Comcast, the largest internet service provider in the United States, and strategic communications consultancy, Message, to bring Comcast’s Lift Zone experience, free, robust WiFi access inside community centers across the country, to attendees at this year’s SXSW festival. The experience included a 3D sculpture representing the threads of connection that Lift Zones provide, which brought viewers into a VR world explaining the initiative. Marrying the real on-the-ground community impact with the cutting-edge tech world of SXSW, the multi-pronged media project was rounded out by a short film. Comcast’s Lift Zones initiative was among more than 60 SXSW Innovation finalists spanning 13 categories and went on to win the People’s Choice Award.

Since launching the first of its kind Internet Essentials program in 2011, Comcast has connected more than 10 million people to the internet at home. The company’s Lift Zones are designed to complement the Internet Essentials program and help those students and families who, for a variety of reasons (including homelessness, or housing insecurity issues), are unable to connect to broadband at home.

In 2020, as COVID-19 measures forced students into distance learning, Comcast worked with its deep network of non-profit partners and city leaders, who kept select community centers open as essential services during the pandemic, to launch Lift Zones in more than 1,000 community centers nationwide. Even as the nation recovers from the effects of the pandemic, Comcast has continued its expansion of Lift Zones, adding new locations in the last several months in Kansas City, Fresno, and Chicago, along with dozens of other communities.

With such a distinctive social mission, the initiative required an out-of-the-box approach to production and collaboration, requiring simultaneous ideation and creation. Blending the very practical, community service aspect of Lift Zones, with the exceptionally artful installation piece provided a distinct creative challenge and opportunity. From concept to visualization to execution, the creative studio worked closely with its partners at Comcast and Message to bring the project to reality.

“We are proud to have helped share Comcast’s story of connection through its Internet Essentials program over the years. When we were asked to bring the Lift Zone experience to attendees at SXSW, I knew Los York was the perfect fit,” says Steven Caplan, Founder/Principal Strategist of Los Angeles-based Message. “We needed the right blend of creative and practical capabilities and having worked closely with Scott Hidinger at Los York on many projects over the years, I knew he’d be the ideal person to bring this project home. As an integrated production studio, Los York goes beyond traditional production company capabilities and brings a full suite of creative and experiential tools to the projects they work on.”

“We were thrilled to be involved and do our part to create more visibility for such an important ongoing initiative,” says Scott Hidinger, executive creative director at Los York. “We approached this like we always do. Putting our energy into design-driven creative thinking that builds culture. The challenge for us was to walk the line between innovation and technology while balancing the more human side as well. This was a wonderful opportunity to shine a spotlight on an amazing program that changes lives.”

“Typically, SXSW focuses on the coolest new gadget or an innovation that’s very much about technology. Our Lift Zones initiative is about responding in real time to real needs on the ground—the innovation is in how we leveraged an existing technology to support vulnerable communities when it mattered most,” said Christina Wiskowski, director of strategic communications at Internet Essentials from Comcast. “We were thrilled to highlight this important work with such a creative piece. It allowed us to lean into the backstory and the bigger concept of digital equity, and share that with the audience at SXSW.”

Los York is an award-winning creative production studio. A place where designers, writers, artists, and directors collaborate to dissolve the boundaries between ideation and creation, and produce culture-defining campaigns for the world’s best brands and agencies.