A company’s booth reflects its personality and its core values, while also serving the needs of its customers. Just as important as the showcase for new gear and product, a trade show also shows off the efforts of many exhibitors to upgrade, redesign and otherwise rethink their booth footprints, constructions and presentations.
We at SNEWS® like to acknowledge those efforts. We are proud to present the winners of the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2009 SNEWS Best of Booths (BOB) Awards, in recognition of the most successful of these endeavors. Merchandising expert Sharon Leicham was back trolling the aisles of the show seeking the most dynamic, innovative and effective booths, and seeking input from the rest of the SNEWS team to select this year's winners.
Top BOB – CamelBak
When your product is hydration, what better way to show it than erecting a 16-foot wall of water? CamelBak’s new booth, designed by Atmosphere Studios in Salt Lake City, had drama, functionality, personality and cool ideas for displaying its hydration packs and the company’s GMI (military) category. The coil curtain screen curving around the front of the booth with its dancing waterfall set the stage for the booth’s custom pack displays of uncoated chain mail framed in curved ash veneer.
The cushiony eco flooring changed with differences in product categories from Eco Silence to Eco Rock. A curved polycarbonate wall lighted from behind held rows of CamelBak water bottles each secured by small magnets to the shelves preventing the bottles from toppling.
The company’s GMI packs got a welcome area of their own in the rear of the booth with a hot rolled steel back wall to which sign lettering was attached with magnets. Additional booth signage was created on recyclable Masonite wood substrates.
Booth lighting is one of the great challenges of exhibit design. To avoid busying the booth with light tracks and cords here and there, show hall par cans were rigged above the booth to provide the lighting. The illumination level was perfect.
CamelBak’s new booth was a prime example of how, with planning and creativity, a company can promote its product and energize its image. Congratulations to CamelBak for its vision.
Fun BOB – Hotcakes
Everything for exhibitor Hotcakes was new. It was the company’s first time at the Outdoor Retailer show and the launch of its online service. The company specializes in providing web-based selling tools that help manufacturers and resellers connect.
The company’s tagline, “A sweeter way to sell,” described its ballroom-located booth: a '50s soda shop style with catchy eye appeal, minimal fixturing and lots of fun. The black-and-white checkered tile floor, the red reception table and stools, and jukebox (the company gave it away at the end of the show) was a fresh way to merchandise an online product that is a challenge to present.
And here’s the best part: Visitors to the booth left with a bag of pumpkin spice hotcake mix. Now, there’s a clever way to sweeten up potential customers!
Déjà Vu BOB – Keen
Ever the innovator, Keen was over the top at the show with a booth that told stories and engaged retailers and presented product. The main sidewall of the booth featured three accomplished real people with the “Live Outwardly” stories of their community involvement.
The blackboards used above each of the product categories in the booth were artfully lettered and colored and each became a temporary work of art. But what earned the booth its Déjà Vu status was the fact that most of the booth materials were from previous shows. It was a bit smaller that in the past but utilized many of the original wall and fixture materials.
New features included a “Wheel of Keen” and a corkboard for posting attendee photos with each person’s dream trip location that created an interactive aspect to the booth. The booth continued to reinforce the company message of sustainability by reusing booth materials. It was comforting.
Most Improved BOB – Columbia
The unveiling of a new open booth design and a new direction heralded Columbia’s return to the Outdoor Retailer show. “The innovation in the booth showcases a change in Columbia,” said Mick McCormick, vice president of sales and marketing. “Our spring 2010 product shows an 80 percent increase in tech innovation. In order to tell that story, we needed to focus on consumer insights and tell the story more clearly.”
The company’s new slogan “ The Science of the Greater Outdoors” sums up the change of direction. The new approach was easy to understand and focused on products and the benefits they deliver. The freestanding booth stations displayed coordinated products and related messages. They surrounded the booth hub containing the writing and reception areas. A second level housed the footwear assortment keeping the downstairs free of clutter and true to message.
This new booth was a welcome change from the company’s previously closed booth format. It shows a change in attitude and approach, and boosts Columbia’s brand awareness and status with customers. There’s more to come. “We believe in changing the booth and the message from season to season, year to year,” said McCormick. “The changes will energize the show.”
Display BOB – SmartWool
SmartWool nailed display! The lighted message lampshades used as heads over mannequin torsos were a hit. The picnic area in the front of the booth with its Astroturf, picnic tables and clothesline welcomed the weary to stop for a chat. The mannequin feet with the collection of socks that coordinated with the clothing displayed adjacent to them hinted at the way to buy without hammering it home. The stacks of colored wool yarns were a subtle way of reinforcing the company story and adding hits of color. The booth glowed thanks to the artful lighting and the extensive use of bright color. Kudos to SmartWool. We can’t wait to see what the folks there come up with at the next show!
Mini BOB – PMI Stanley
When your exhibit booth is in a small space, you have to be creative. The booth can’t be too crowded, must convey the company message clearly and present product to its best advantage. It is not easy to achieve all those things in a small booth, but exhibitor PMI Stanley did just that. The company’s challenge was to show each of its product categories in a way that emphasized their differences while telling the overall sustainability message.
The back and sidewalls of the booth were divided into panels and each was merchandised to support the different product categories. The Outdoor collection was displayed on birch trees, the active Nineteen13 line had a cycle theme, and the Classics line was represented by a handsome wood bar.
To show how recycled materials get made into a PMI Stanley product, the company had plastic cups of all sizes artfully arranged on a sidewall around a “Use it” message, ground-up plastic around a “Recycle it” message, and tubes squiggling up to recyclable bottles next to a “Reuse it” message. It was a great way to draw attention to a mini booth rich in “buzz.”
Honorable Mentions (listed alphabetically)
Did you know there are such things as soy mannequins? We didn’t, so we checked them out at the GoLite booth and sure enough there they were looking every bit like traditional mannequins. This is taking recycling to the next step and thanks to GoLite for letting us know about this new development in visual merchandising.
The best signage at the show was to be found in the GSI booth. It was informational, concise and embellished with diagrams to show how to use each component of its camp sets. The booth was sparkling with light and color and a pleasure to visit.
Horny Toad never disappoints. It’s clever use of “found” display materials is a study in what can be found by dumpster diving, at yard sales and on Craigslist. This show’s theme of backyard and barbecues featured old yard tools, ancient coolers and wheelbarrows filled with watermelons, to name a few. Cut up yard hoses became carpeting in one window display and cardboard tubes left over from the show carpet supported colorful banners.
Prana made the most of its booth sidewalls by utilizing them to convey messages. The favorite was the “breathe” message which was conveyed by utilizing blocks of moss embedded with living plants spelling out each letter of the word breathe. By using live materials, breathe became more than just a slogan, it became a moment for one to savor what’s best and worth saving -- clean air.
Who doesn’t love dogs? Dogs were everywhere in Ruffwear’s booth. Photos of them, dog mannequins in new fleece sweaters “walking” the walls, and a main dog gracing a platform upfront in the booth. The simplicity of the booth was appealing and the dogs looked happy! Bow-wow to Ruffwear!
Sea to Summit
Accessory displays can look cluttered at best and boring at the least, but Sea to Summit had the best prescription for creating eye-catching accessory displays with attractive informational signage. The accessory categories were arranged by color on freestanding walls placed at diagonals to the aisles moving visitors through the booth and ensuring that all products on display were seen. The booth was fresh and energizing.
--Sharon Leicham (Photos by Judy Leand)