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With multisensory marketing on the rise, it's not unusual to see companies incorporating sounds and scents into their exhibits. But at the Milan Furniture Fair, the Centrum Designu Gdynia, an organization that promotes Polish Pomeranian designers, invited visitors to a rather unusual taste test. Centrum peppered its booth with a dozen stations that allowed fairgoers an opportunity to figuratively chew on an armchair and lick a radiator. But rather than serving up samples of upholstery fabrics, the organization offered more digestible morsels it felt conceptually embodied attributes of the products on display. To wit, chocolate sponge cake was served next to a display featuring a comfy, brown armchair. Attendees enjoyed lemon-tea lollipops while inspecting the Pillou radiator (the hard candy was meant to represent cast aluminum, while the lemon flavor conjured the contrast of heat on a cold day). Conceptual and artsy to be sure, the tactic made the products more memorable and left a good taste in visitors' mouths.
Banana Republic
To showcase its myriad banana varieties at FMI Connect in Chicago, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. treated the fruit like artifacts in a museum. Housed in Plexiglas cases embedded into a curved wall on one side of the company's exhibit, the banana bunches were organized by type and illuminated by individual spotlights inside the boxes. Positioned at eye level, the yellow, green, and even coral-colored fruit caught the attention of wandering booth visitors, who couldn't help but stop and stare. The captivating display gave staffers ample time to swoop in and explain the varieties, creating a fruitful icebreaker.
Dual-Purpose Display
When is a product display more than just a display? When it doubles as in-booth seating and allows interested attendees an opportunity to get hands-on with the exhibiting company's offerings. Inside its booth at the International Builders' Show, Mohawk Industries Inc. positioned a handful of roughly 6-foot-tall displays, featuring various colors of its Smart-Strand Silk carpeting. But to make them multifunctional – and prompt attendees to linger longer in the booth – each display was designed to resemble a large, carpet-covered throne. The dual-purpose design lentan intriguing organic form to each display, while also beckoning attendees with aching feet to get up close and personal with Mohawk's cushy carpeting.
Inner Space
Demonstrating how a product works is a tried-and-true trade show tactic, but it can be especially successful if it showcases the inner workings of said product. Such was the case for Analogic Corp. at the Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting. The medical professionals in attendance use radiology equipment every day, but rarely get an opportunity look inside the machines that make their jobs possible. Analogic changed that with a clever demonstration/display hybrid that piqued the curiosity of passersby. In one corner of its exhibit, a Plexiglas box measuring approximately 10 feet wide, 8 feet tall, and 3 feet deep contained a cross section of a CT scanner, which effectively provided a new perspective through which attendees could view the machine's innards. The stripped-down model not only drew in attendees intrigued by the exposed parts, but also gave staffers a visual aid for their talking points.
Domo Arigato
Booth staffers can sometimes come across as robotic – and not in a good way. But Walden University used the most robotic staffer of all to great success at the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference and exposition. The robot, which stood 5 feet tall and was on wheels, entertained and engaged visitors with banter until a live staffer was available to take over the conversation. Show goers were perplexed as the robot rolled up to them and addressed them by name; Little did they know, the words came from a hidden microphone worn by the operator who stood approximately 15 feet away (close enough to read attendees' nametags but far enough away to escape atten- tion). After the show, attendees could visit Walden University's Facebook page to retrieve photos of themselves with their new robotic friend, providing a post-show touchpoint and extending the university's social-media reach. By landing itself a bevy of new followers, Walden University proved that sometimes a robotic staffer might not be such a bad thing after all.
Dress for Success
Few trade show elements make as much of a kerfuffle as staff uniforms. From itchy polo shirts to staffers who show up for booth duty wearing last night's attire, it's hard to find an acceptable uniform, let alone one that stands out amid a show floor full of "business casual." But Ardent Impressions Inc. did just that at EXHIBITORLIVE with a daily rotation of unusual staff uniforms. On the first day of the show, the all-female booth staff was bedecked in prom dresses. On the show's second day, they surprised attendees with baseball-inspired outfits, and for the show's final day, they wore tutus and wigs in Ardent Impression's corporate red hue. The creative costumes drew attendees into the booth to learn more about the company's offerings.
Floor Sample
Given the widespread popularity of USB drives, it's no surprise that they have become go-to trade show giveaways. But do they really help reinforce your company's branding? Tarkett SA added its own twist to the ubiquitous USB drives when it designed its press kits for the NeoCon show. Using a small black strap, the flooring maker attached 3.5-by-2.5-inch tiles to branded USB drives that contained its media kit. What's more, one side of the sample featured a transparent sleeve into which a business card was inserted. The size and color of the samples helped the USB drives stand out from a sea of same-old thumb drives, and provided a physical reminder of Tarkett's products.

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