It takes a lot of time, preparation and money to create a successful trade show booth that attracts buyers and creates a buzz on the show floor – or even makes non-buying passers-by stop and gawk. The SNEWS team thinks those companies that took the extra effort to build eye-catching booths and persuasive product displays should be recognized. So, we're continuing the tradition we began at the '03 Winter Market of awarding the SNEWS "Best of Booths" Awards known affectionately as the BOB Awards. They are fast becoming the award-to-win.
If you remember our winter awards, you'll note a few changes in the summer version, below. The most obvious being that we didn't award a NOT BOB, or that not-so-sought-after recognition of having a, well, poorly designed booth. Maybe we're softening (oh, we hope not) but we didn't find one that made us stop in our tracks it was so bad.
Also, we've added a special category this time around called the Crazy Bob – of course, at SNEWS we take all kinds of liberties and we just felt this booth needed some limelight and deserved a category of its own. In fact, each time around for these awards, we may add – or subtract – certain categories, although the key ones will remain – Top, Display, Fun, Mini, and Almost BOBs.
BOB winners receive an inscribed certificate of recognition and all the incredible prestige and public fanfare (sic) that goes along with this coveted award. Our hats are off to the following Summer Market BOB Award winners:
Top BOB -- Gramicci
The Top BOB Award goes to the booth the SNEWS team considers the best booth in the show. Interestingly, winner Gramicci was recognized at this year's Winter Market a few months back as the winner of the Improved BOB award. With this new Gramicci booth, company owner Don Love has taken improvement to new heights, literally. The contents of the entire booth, including banners, signage, racks and Plexiglas writing tables (with the exception of the reception stand), were suspended from trusses hanging from the convention center ceiling like a giant mobile. "I wanted to highlight the fact that we're mixing fashion and function in a kinetic way," said Love.
Shirts and pants hung from round racks scattered throughout the booth, the pants folded over moveable bars (an idea borrowed from poster shops) with hangers welded on them. Tops hung above the pants to create the suggestion of outfits. Large, baffled theatrical lights with colored gels added a touch of excitement and the oversized photos lining the rear of the booth shot by Love conveyed the romance of the outdoors. Kudos to Love and his staff for creating a booth that was inviting, spacious, a delight to see and an example of what a little ingenuity can do.
Fun BOB -- A.T. Paddles
Explorers Lewis and Clark would be mighty proud of the boys at A.T. Paddles for re-telling their expedition story. A large storyboard with photos and recollections of Lewis and Clark's memorable trip westward adorned the front of the booth, while large photos of the explorers provided a focal point on the back wall. Picket fencing surrounded the booth but gave way to an entrance studded with elk antlers. Company mountain men Drew Hicken, JD Davis and Dirk Steinhour took the theme one step further by dressing in fringed frontier clothing and serving whiskey shots. The A.T. Paddles booth was anything but sobering -- in fact it was downright frontier fun! We hope they give it another shot (get it?) next show.
Display BOB -- CMG
A sophisticated, clean, open and great high-tech product display describes the winning CMG booth. The most intriguing part of the booth was the transparent Plexiglas tubes, lighted from the bottom and displaying the company's headlamps, lanterns and flashlights. According to Tony Kaplan, CMG's vice president of sales, the tubes were standard issue at his local home improvement store. They were placed on a platform embedded with up-lights to provide illumination in the tubes. Holes were drilled in the tubes at eye-level and plexi disks rested on bolts threaded into the holes. Each disk displayed a CMG product held in place by flexible wire and needle-nose clips. A small product sign completed each display. The product displays were artful, the metal walls and oversized company logo eye-catching. Way to go CMG!
Mini BOB -- Arborwear
Arborwear took a small 10-x-10 booth space and added a sense of humor and bad teeth! Actually this little booth – one of the best of the mini's although there were a few others that took the time to dress up a small space -- had some very clever aspects to it. One couldn't help but notice the two mannequins dressed in climbing gear ascending tree trunks at the back of the booth. A bench and writing table were constructed of tree trunks and boards. A large sign at the back of the booth identified the company. The booth took on a bit of a "Deliverance" feel with the addition of the Billy Bob teeth giveaways (tins of Halloween-like teeth you could wear to shock your colleagues and family with a big sh---eating grin). Kudos to Arborwear – the company found a way to present product in a small space with a large dose of fun. In fact, this tiny booth could have about competed for the Top award against the big guys.
Improved BOB -- Liquid Logic
Is there anything as soothing as the sight of translucent blue water in a river? Liquid Logic encased its booth in transparent blue wrapping plastic creating the feel of running water that proved a perfect foil for its collection of kayaks. At the center of the long, linear booth, kayaks skewed at different angles rested on a high metal frame. Additional kayaks rested against the back wall, enabling retailers to examine them more closely. SNEWS applauds Liquid Logic for using a very simple material to give the impression of moving water and to tie selling kayaks to selling the experience.
Almost BOB -- Mission Playground
The Almost Bob Award is an honorable mention that goes to booths showing ingenuity – but not quit enough to garner a Top BOB or a Mini Bob. Mission Playground, a T-shirt company from California, is a prime example. The company message -- "the earth is our playground and our mission is to preserve it" -- was carried out by the use of a kid's swing set resting on playground sand in front of a rack of the company's shirts. It wasn't the most polished booth in the show, nor was it the most expensive but it had heart and a way of delivering its message that was indisputable. Keep your eye on owner Mark McMahon and his Mission Playground: When he grows up, there's no telling what he'll do!
Almost BOB -- Valandre
Valandre showed us another way to make a 10-x-10 booth seem larger through the use of a single material throughout -- wood. If you didn't know better you'd think this French-based company was actually from the old west. It showcased its down bags and apparel in a completely contained all-wood booth reminiscent of the inside of a mountain cabin complete with hand-hewn wooden pegs holding its vests and jackets. Signage was also artfully done with lettering (again in wood) across the front of the reception table that doubled as a bag platform and another sign attached to the roof of the booth. Bonne travail (excuse my French), Valandre!
Crazy BOB -- Sanuk
The forward to Sanuk's other-worldly catalog starts with "Sanuk Imaginuity is not halted by the infinite." If you understand that you would have loved the slightly bonkers Sanuk sandal booth. The name Sanuk is Thai for "Happy" and happy described the mindset of the retro NASA-themed booth. Large control panels bordered the entrance above, which hung blinking yellow lights indicating a hazardous environment that you were to enter at your own risk. Hazardous materials disposal barrels stood outside the entrance serving as display platforms for the company's whimsical sandals. Made you want to take a gander if you had no interest in sandals.
The SNEWS team had to create an entirely new BOB Award category to fit this booth, but its entertainment value earned it a hallowed place in the BOB Awards designations. If you can get your hands on a Sanuk 2004 catalog, do it. It's a trip too.
Didn't get mentioned this time around? Want to make sure we don't miss you or consider you? Drop us a note either before or during the next show and let us know that you think your company has a BOB-worthy booth. And we'll have our team take a look.