It’s a rare occurrence to visit an exhibition or conference which
does not have the latest state-of-the-art technology. But to what extent
do the Internet and multimedia enhance a live event?
The use of new technology demonstrates that a company is progressively
minded, Adrian Caddy, the creative director at Imagination, believes.
’However, it’s not enough just to have the kit, as it can fall
spectacularly flat. It ain’t what you’ve got, it’s the way that you use
it.’ Imagination has been using CD-Roms in exhibitions for at least
three years and every project it is currently working on has a
multimedia element. ’For most clients,’ Caddy adds, ’having a Website
accessible on their
exhibition stand is almost a given.’
When Imagination helped to launch Ford’s Ka last year, a key component
was the Ka cafe, which was kitted out with Internet Web stations and
CD-Roms. ’The new media put a valuable interactive and progressive spin
on the whole experience,’ Caddy explains.
Using computer software to generate projections or whole environments to
walk through is a new style of display. As exhibition visitors move
through the area, computer animations are triggered by a
pressure-sensitive panel in the floor.
’Online market research has to be the most valuable aspect of the
multimedia potential,’ Richard Mellor, the creative director of
Hyperinteractive - which created the D&AD Website - says.
Since its launch last November, Mellor reveals that there have been more
than 19,000 visitors to the site. Not only that, but detailed
information about users is coming to light. The company can pinpoint
which country visits the site most, as well as what time of day is most
popular for hits. ’These figures can be used to tailor marketing
proposals on the Internet,’ Mellor explains.
A high proportion of visitors are registering for events via the
Internet. Many events have set up discussion forums and bulletin boards
on their Websites so that visitors can put questions to exhibitors or
arrange appointments. Response times are said to be fast, with
exhibition teams checking Websites on a daily basis.
The Internet offers a wider audience - potentially millions of customers
- which makes it a cost-effective option for promoting an event.
According to Robin Wood, the electronic publishing development director
at Miller Freeman, companies are prepared to spend more if they believe
it adds value for their customers. ’They want to get more value out of
the investment they have made,’ Wood says.
Paper-based publications limit the amount of information by the cost and
size of the catalogue. In theory, there is no limit to the size of an
event’s Website, as it is governed instead by the time that a visitor
wishes to spend online.
’The Internet is the most awesome tool the world has ever seen,’ Nick
Lamb, the managing director of Crown Business Communications,
It can be used as a means of attracting people to a live event in the
first place, as well as gathering information about exhibitors. Lamb
argues that the pace of technological advance is increasing - he
envisages creating a live event on the Internet in real time, which
could reach millions of users.
Lamb believes there is a movement away from large theatrical shows - the
dry-ice extravaganzas of the 80s - towards a greater investment in the
message. Less of the dancing girls and more of the digital data is what
is required today. Lamb points out that this means the increased use of
TV screens, video footage, visual aids and network laptops. At
Imagination’s Ericsson Mobile Communications exhibit at ceBIT ’96, music
CDs featuring songs played on the stand were offered as gifts to dealers
Post-event activities are becoming more significant through Websites
that can be accessed in retrospect as well as CDs which hold a database
of exhibitors. This offers greater value for the client. As Lamb puts
it: ’His bucks go substantially further than they have ever done before
in a live event.’
But it’s a misconception that IT companies exclusively lead the way in
the digital revolution. ’Every business needs to be new-technology
savvy,’ Lamb says. ’You cannot afford to be left out.’ He points out
that the most technologically advanced of his clients are banks and
mobile phone companies.
The idea of the virtual exhibition is also receiving favourable reports,
although many in the industry believe it will never replace the real
thing. Research has shown that people regularly spend more than five
hours at an exhibition. The same is unlikely to be true of the virtual
There’s no sign of escaping the digital revolution, despite the fact
that fewer than half of the top 500 companies in the world are connected
to the Internet. That’s not to say the rest are lagging behind. The
remaining companies are investing heavily in research to discover
audience needs before going live.
Yet, however sophisticated technology becomes, sometimes you can’t beat
the good old-fashioned way. ’The importance of seeing someone face to
face will never be replaced,’ Lamb insists. ’The live event will
certainly survive in our lifetime.’
ERICSSON: CE BIT ’96
Imagination’s Ericsson Mobile Communications stand at ceBIT ’96
incorporated film, video and multimedia in its presentation. The prime
objectives were to raise brand awareness of Ericsson as a leading
manufacturer of mobile communications and to build relationships with
the trade as well as generating sales enquiries. The stand was enhanced
by films demonstrating how the products are de rigueur for modern life
plus images of the new Ericsson product range. A photo CD-Rom containing
product and lifestyle pictures was presented to journalists as a