Ever wondered what visual merchandisers dream of? Besides the obvious, they dream of the perfect trade show booth. Boring you say? Au contraire! If you think about it, good design can excite, persuade, entertain and just plain make you happy to be alive! It doesn't matter that you're not a merchandiser -- there is much to appreciate in looking at a creative booth. And to that end, we at SNEWS® find inspiration that we trust you will enjoy, and perhaps find a something you can learn from, with our BOB (Best of Booths) Awards.
The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market was a playground for us dreamers. Exhibitors, many of them in the show for the first time, outdid themselves in the booth department. W.L. Gore & Associates and Wigwam had new booths that effectively conveyed their brand messages, worked efficiently and were great to look at. We loved the guy in the Sure Foot Corp. booth who spent the whole show standing on giant ice cubes demonstrating this company's shoe and boot grippers. Cool! Very cool!
Images for each booth are located at the end of the article. And if you're reading this in your weekly SNEWS® News Digest, you'll need to go to the article online to view the images -- well worth the extra mouse click we promise you.
TOP BOB - Keen
But the best of the lot and the Winter Market 2005 TOP BOB Award goes to Keen. The new 40-foot by 40-foot booth was a pleasure to behold with its vertical-grain fir front porch leading to a central gallery, the floor of which was strewn with rubber flashing chips that have become a signature element in Keen booths. The gallery lighting was subdued and colored lights focused on four tempered-glass hanging platforms, each of which was textured and themed to blend with the category of footwear displayed. Behind the displays was a large wall featuring a Keen concept statement. Bordering the dimly lit gallery were six writing rooms, three on each side, brightly lighted to draw customers inside to see the entire line. A mezzanine housed a conference table for meetings and couch and TV for lounging and relaxing.
“The booth design was inspired by a shoe store I saw in Japan,” said Scott McGuire, Keen product manager. “We wanted the booth to be visual, tactile and comfortable like our footwear, and it needed to fit our brand image.”
Two large store rooms flanked the stairs going up to the mezzanine. Large graphics featuring footwear styles lined the walls of the writing rooms and exterior of the booth. Shoe display platforms in front of the outside wall gave a hint of what was inside. The spacious and elegant reception table, also made of vertical grain fir, was designed to accommodate three to four receptionists and outfitted with cubbyholes to hold the miscellaneous stuff needed to service the sales reps and buyers. Storage closets underneath held sales materials. Needless to say, the staff working reception was ecstatic with the space provided.
The Keen booth was designed and constructed by Eric Krepela and his crew of Atmosphere Studios of Salt Lake City.
FUN BOB – Olly Dog
There’s a reason school buses are yellow. They stand out visually as did the Olly Dog booth, our 2005 FUN BOB Award winner. The booth, a 10 x 10, couldn’t be missed with its bright yellow-orange back wall and floor. The bright lighting made the colors of the dog collars and leashes – neons and brights - pop even more. Fixtures, designed by industry veteran Gib Mann, were topped by cutouts of the Olly Dog icon and held an assortment of the company’s products.
“The color brings some spice to the booth,” said Mike Mooers, Olly Dog President. “In a show like this, you’ve got to get noticed.”
This was the first Outdoor Retailer show for the Olly Dog crew and their goal was to make a splash by being fresh and innovative. We’d say they were successful. Way to go, dog!
CRAZY BOB – Crumpler
Ever heard of a “blue duck?” It’s an Australian saying for something that’s so outrageous nobody would ever agree to accept it – something that gives you a churning feeling when you see it. Designers offer a blue duck design along with designs they really want clients to choose to ensure the safer design is selected. Well, my friends, Crumpler chose the “blue duck” design for its booth.
It was crazy. You entered the closed-off booth through one of two narrow openings. The booth walls were giant green blackboards on which silhouettes of people were painted and Crumpler backpacks attached. Figures and scattered, free-standing blackboard mannequins in the 20 x 20 booth were surrounded by enough space for show-goers to write graffiti. By day four of the show, the walls were covered. Surveillance cameras were placed high up in each corner and their images transmitted to a screen outside the booth. The walls were “hinged” with colorful oil drums. A bench inside held a collection of the company’s cell phone and camera bags.
“Most of the people visiting the booth were positive,” said Ben Richards, President King “Key” Item (don’t ask). “But about five percent of the people were confused and walked away. That’s okay because we don’t want to talk to the scaredy cats.”
DISPLAY BOB – Marmot
Marmot changes the front display area of its booth for every show. Show goers walking by this show’s booth were treated to a display of color and product in an open and inviting entry area, uncluttered and impactful.
The simplicity of the presentation along with the artful way the clothing on display was accessorized earned Marmot the Display BOB Award. The sidewalls of the both reflected the booth entry with clothing displays and graphics that are right on for what’s happening in color trending. The coordination of the outside presentation with the inside “all about business” arrangement marked the Marmot booth as both workable and inviting. Retailers could get ideas for window and wall displays by looking closely at what Marmot has accomplished in its booth merchandising.
MINI BOB – Prism Designs
It’s often true that the 10 x 10 booths express the most creativity in the show. Why? Due to limited space, exhibitors have to tell their story concisely and have to stand out amidst a sea of similarly shaped booths.
A perfect example of a booth that attracted attention despite its small size was Mini BOB winner Prism Designs, a maker of sport kites. The light gray walls of the small booth made a perfect backdrop for the colorful kites that were hung on the top, sides and rear of the booth in front of lights that provided backlighting and made the kites seem to fly. Below the kites were three P.O.P. fixtures that are available to retailers who carry the line.
The booth was as much an engineering feat as the kites. It was made of 2-inch foam with Formica panels laminated to the front. The entire booth weighed 170 pounds and, when dismantled, fit in a car. It took the folks at Prism Designs an hour and a half to install and dismantle.
This was the company’s first Outdoor Retailer show, and we hope to see it continue to add elegance and interest to future shows.
IMPROVED BOB – Petzl
Petzl came to the show with a brand new booth and, from the looks of it, met all the goals the company had set for a workable booth that would also draw attention and convey the brand message.
Though the booth seemed larger than the company’s old one, the square footage remained the same. However, the shape was different. The front was open with curving walls featuring displays of product positioned on a soft diagonal that persuaded show goers and customers to delve deeper into the booth. The walls held displays of Petzl products that stood out because of effective lighting and positioning.
ALMOST BOB – HighGear
This 20 x 20 booth reflected the sleek, contemporary design of the company’s digital watches, heart rate monitors and altimeters. Constructed of wood and metal, the booth incorporated a hint of nature with its sweeping back wall image of consumers in the outdoors. It was sectioned by angled walls inset with displays of product. Its openness belied its intimacy as one had to “discover” the main product display wall placed opposite the back wall and hidden from the front of the booth.
“We wanted the booth to leave something to the imagination,” said Gene Yanku, vice president of product development. “We didn’t want to reveal everything at once.”
The booth was designed and constructed by Function Design, a small exhibit shop in Seattle.
ALMOST BOB – Rogue
How do you make ubiquitous barn wood look modern? It’s not so easy but somehow the folks at Rogue accomplished it. A wall of corrugated metal -- a simple material but one with high gloss and reflectivity -- backed the 10 x 20 linear booth. It’s what caused one to notice the booth. The eye then focused on the two gondolas positioned on each side of the center, constructed of barn wood and metal and displaying the company’s footwear line.
The gondola displays held the footwear in asymmetrical arrangements -- the most interesting way to display. The wood was rescued from a barn in Oregon where the company is headquartered. The display of product mixed with the enthusiasm of the staff made Rogue a compelling booth.
Keen Booth - Top BOB
Fun BOB - Olly Dog
Crazy BOB - Crumpler
Display Bob -- Marmot
Mini BOB - Prism Designs
Improved BOB -- Petzl
Almost BOB - HighGear
Almost BOB - Rogue