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Good Fortune
Sometimes the quickest way to attendees' hearts is through their stomachs. That's why Atlantic Exhibits and Burner & Associates Inc., who shared a 10-by-10-foot exhibit at the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association Annual Meeting, obtained approval from show management to sprinkle fortune cookies on tables clustered in each corner of the exhibit hall. When attendees cracked open the cookies, they discovered marketing-related fortunes. For instance, one fortune read "You will soon experience an outstanding return on your investment." The reverse side of each slip instructed recipients to visit booth 203 for more information. Simple yet effective, the tactic drew attendees to the booth – and gave them a little sustenance in their stomachs to boot.
Artistic Nut Job
Nutcase Inc. creates graphic-adorned helmets, so at Interbike 2015, the company opted for a fittingly artful traffic builder. The promotion began before the show, when Nutcase held an open call for artists wanting to showcase their work on its helmets. Customers voted online to select three favorites whose work was printed on helmets (which were displayed in the firm's booth). Nutcase then flew the artists to Interbike, where they created 4-by-5-foot murals during the show. When the artists' activities caught the attention of passersby, staffers explained the helmets' unique aesthetics and distributed cards printed with the URL of an eBay store where the completed panels would be auctioned off. After the show, proceeds were donated to World Bicycle Relief, a charity that provides bicycles to entrepreneurs, health-care workers, and students across rural Africa.
Putter Here
Many exhibitors dismiss in-booth mini golf as a gimmick with little relevance to their marketing goals. At the American Institute of Architects Convention, however, Sika Corp. dedicated the vast majority of its 20-by-20-foot exhibit to the popular pastime. And in a product-centric twist, the building-products manufacturer used its own flooring material as the putting surface. Staffers invited passing attendees to pick up a putter and try to get the golf ball up a slanted incline and into the hole at one end of the booth. Sika reps awarded trinket prizes based on putting prowess: Simply picking up a putter earned players a foam golf ball, and getting the ball in the hole in two strokes or less earned them a branded yellow golf towel. The activity got attendees up close with one of Sika's products, and gave staffers ample opportunity to discuss the company's other offerings.
Security Stunt
Imagine trying to send a last-minute email from the show floor, but cell service is sketchy at best. Then, an open Wi-Fi network pops up masquerading as a venue-provided connection, and you eagerly connect, not knowing (or caring about) its provenance. That's the situation Avast Software s.r.o. knew attendees would face at the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. But to teach attendees a lesson about their susceptibility to online predators – and demonstrate the need for its products – the Internet-security provider set up a clever stunt. When unsuspecting smartphone users connected their devices to an unprotected hot spot Avast set up in the vicinity of its booth, they found that their personal information, passwords, etc. were broadcast for all to see on a large screen located front and center in the exhibit. Avast promptly deleted all the purloined information, but the message, and the need for the company's Internet-security software, stuck in attendees' minds.
Hidden in Plain Sight
All exhibitors need some kind of in-booth storage for everything from staffers' purses and laptops to extra giveaways and collateral literature. And more often than not, staffers are forced to cram belongings under reception counters or behind pipe and drape to keep them out of sight – and out of the hands of would-be thieves. But the folks at Eyefinity Inc. created an ingenious and oh-so-obvious solution for their booth at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas. The company positioned four storage lockers, which had been painted Eyefinity's corporate green, white, and blue hues, smack dab in the middle of its booth. While utterly utilitarian, the lockers added whimsy to the exhibit while providing a secure storage solution that made staffers' lives easier without sacrificing style.
Wreck Center
DriveSavers Data Recovery Inc. wanted attendees at Interop New York to know that it can save digital files stored on computers, no matter what tragedy those devices suffer. So to underscore its abilities – while jump-starting conversations with booth visitors – DriveSavers placed a damaged laptop inside a Plexiglas display case. A placard atop the keyboard read, "After the earthquake in Haiti, this twisted laptop was pulled from the rubble. DriveSavers recovered all the user's data." Talk about a tragic tale transformed into a triumphant trade show testimonial.
Get Your Kicks
Why would a shoe company exhibit at the International Consumer Electronics Show? That's what passersby were asking themselves when they encountered the booth for Skechers USA Inc. inside the Las Vegas Convention Center's south hall. But knowing full well that it would have to quickly communicate its relevance amid all the gadgetry and high-tech wizardry of CES, the company put its most tech-savvy foot forward. Skechers supersized one of its Game Kicks shoes, which have built-in lights and buttons that turn the footwear into eye-catching – and fully functional – game controllers. The 6-foot-long shoe literally stopped attendees in their tracks, while the game-controller-like buttons quickly conveyed the new product's key differentiator, starting conversations off on the right foot.

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