Entertainment, Large Format Graphics, Trade Show Displays

HBO Does Trade Shows on Silicon Valley

How HBO hit the nail on the head in terms of graphics and trade shows

If you are a fan of the HBO program Silicon Valley, and you have worked in the trade show industry, you witnessed a fantastic episode this past Sunday. As I watched the episode I instantly fell into corporate mode to review the displays used to see if I could recognize anything from the countless manufacturers and suppliers I’ve done business with over the years. And, as luck would have it, whenever I see a trade show floor, I instantly located a display that I was certain of the supplier. Granted, I could probably identify a few from that show. But, one in particular was very clear.

During the episode in question we see Richard’s team prepare a covert operation at a very large and fictional trade show (based on items like CES). The concept is to intercept the WIFI signal of the sponsor so they can load their own code onto the mobile phone devices of everyone attending. From a tech standpoint the episode is fantastic. However, from a graphic standpoint, what stood out to me was the display directly across the aisle from the Pied Piper team profiled in the show. That display was a 20×20 truss exhibit from Trussworks. To ensure this was true I reached out to Roy Muller at Trussworks and he indeed said that display was theirs. When you find such wonderful moments in life that you can see something on a show and instantly know who did it, you are overwhelmed with satisfaction. You know you have been paying attention to your job.

Roy told me that the display was rented by one company on behalf of HBO for the series for a custom shoot at the LA Convention Center. When you watch the episode you are clearly struck by the size of the show they put up just for this one episode and instantly wonder if perhaps they did the show during CES. But that isn’t the case. Rather, the show was just a set and when you watch it you think you are seeing a huge event space. Congratulations to the HBO production staff on this one. They did an excellent job. And congrats to Roy at Trussworks for a great job. Roy told me they had three other exhibits in that set for the episode.

Getting back to that display I recognized. It was a Trussworks exhibit. Roy tells me it is their “Hollywood Exhibit Truss Kit”, which is fitting. And the graphics placed on the display were perfectly prepared. You really can’t get a better fictional representation of a trade show floor than what HBO did on that episode because it was actually prepared by a real exhibit company.

However, what was also a moment of thought was the team of Richard’s Pied Piper admitting that they have no skill at all marketing themselves at a trade show and the only reason they attended was to do something covert during the event. This is a moment of thought for us all in the trade show world. Here you find a company with huge potential growth, but a very small group of people involved that have no sense of marketing. They are about to attend a trade show (in this case not their first) and they already have defeated themselves due to their lack of marketing and selling. This can provide all display sellers with a moment of pause as they think of what they are doing. You shouldn’t just be selling a graphical backdrop display to a new client. Rather, you should be selling them success, with tips on how to use that display to their benefit at the trade show. Sure, you can’t guarantee a perfect result. But, selling a display is often just not enough. Especially if you want a repeat customer and customer growth.

This might be a bit off topic in terms of graphics. But if you know who I am, I do more than design graphics. Sales is key to everything.

As for this episode, it was just damn fun to see an exhibit on a fictional show that was accurate to what we normally do in the trade show industry. And, it was even more fun to identify one of the manufacturers I’ve worked with and share that with them. Sometimes it is just fun to see your life and career represented in fictional form on HBO.

My review is A+ for that episode.

Have questions or want to know more about me? Visit www.jacobnorris.com

The displays in question. Copyright HBO 2017:

Copyright HBO 2017
HBO Silicon Valley HooliCon episode, Season 4, version 1.
Copyright HBO 2017
HBO Silicon Valley HooliCon episode, Season 4, version 2.


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About Jacob Norris

Graphic Designer with over 20 years of experience working in all forms of print media.
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