The premiere of the HAPTICA® live in Cologne had been eagerly awaited. The novel event concept combines a trade show with a lecture programme, special exhibitions, an award ceremony and an evening networking format. Open to distributors, advertising agencies and industry customers, “Experiencing Haptic Advertising” is a platform that aims to improve the image of the promotional product. The debut event that was held at the E-Werk in Cologne on March 20 was very promising: 614 attendees showed a keen interest in the diversity and creative potential of haptic advertising.
Because a premiere is always like taking a step into the unknown, there is always a lot of stage fright prior to debut events. The same applied to the organisers and exhibitors of the HAPTICA® live ’13, which took place in Cologne on March 20. Because this event was unchartered territory for the entire sector – thus there was a great deal of curiosity and concern among the suppliers, distributors, agencies and users: Ultimately, 614 of the 914 pre-registered guests travelled to E-Werk in Cologne (around a third of whom were promotional products users and agencies) from all over Germany to “Experience Haptic Advertising”. Visitors also attended the event from Finland, England, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland, in spite of the fact that the weather gods didn’t really play along. Sleet made the road traffic conditions around Cologne treacherous, a Lufthansa strike and problems with the signal boxes at the Cologne train station ended in a complete traffic chaos. Nevertheless, all of these adverse conditions were hardly noticeable in the halls of E-Werk.
Location with flair
Michael Scherer, CEO of WA Publishing, the organisers of HAPTICA® live had announced an “Image campaign for the promotional product” in the run-up to the event. “The aim behind launching our new magazine HAPTICA® two years ago was to underline the huge impact of promotional products. The positive response to the magazine from the industry marketing decision-makers encouraged us to initialise the HAPTICA® live event. It seemed logical to stage the event in Cologne, a media metropolis, where WA Publishing is also based.”
E-Werk, which is located on the Eastside of the Rhine in Köln-Mülheim, served as the venue. The former Wilhelminian style industry building was converted into a modern concert and event hall in the 1990s (Herbert Grönemeyer, Sportfreunde Stiller, Joe Satriani …) and is among others the venue for the legendary Cologne Carnival sessions. E-Werk not only radiates industrial charm, the rooms and facilities were also very well suited to the HAPTICA® live project. For example, it comprises of two separate, compact halls, which are located next to the lobby and the gallery (for the catering). Whereas the smaller hall with its stage were used for the lecture programme, the prize-giving ceremony of the Promotional Gift Awards 2013, two special exhibitions and the evening event, the stands of the 42 exhibitors were erected in the main hall and the lobby.
Concrete interest, creative atmosphere
“There are lots of different stands here, which provide us with stimuli for coming up with new ideas,” praised Stephanie Pielsticker from the Marketing Department at EurimPharm and Walter Gehlen, Director of the Artfair, was “impressed. I wanted to find out what possibilities there are for customer incentives and I have seen many interesting items.” ” A very nice location, a lovely hall, lots of exhibitors – plenty to see” was how Lars Thiel of headstart Marketing summed the trade fair up.
Thanks to the good frequency of visitors at the stands, constructive discussions and an inspiring exchange of ideas between everyone involved – the event is open to suppliers, distributors, agencies, marketing decision-makers and purchasers from industry companies –a very creative atmosphere soon evolved, which is what characterises the HAPTICA® live.
However, some of the visitors, who are well familiar with the product ranges of the exhibitors, would have appreciated more examples of use and demonstrations of customising techniques at the stands. For some, the world of experience aspect fell a little short in this hall. However, unfortunately the amount of space available didn’t leave much room for further attractions. In some places, the layout of the trade fair was already rather crushed.
In the smaller hall, successful creations and implementations of and with promotional products were on display. In a special Best Practice exhibition examples of successful campaigns were showcased: T-shirts in a guerrilla mission against neo-Nazis, the message of which change after being washed for the first time; a bra calendar by FHM designed as a men’s toy; a concrete mailing with a cast bottle of champagne to promote a Stihl angle grinder; a blister-packed stool designed to generate sponsors for theatre projects… “I found the Best Practice exhibition very interesting, because the products convey a message and they have been very cleverly implemented, in order to enhance the brand value,” confirmed Michael Jerxen, re-Bird. Christian Höfling, werbemax, even considers the Best Practice special exhibition to be the centrepiece of the HAPTICA® live: “Here, one has the best opportunity to give the visitors an insight as to how promotional products can be implemented. Which is why I think this part of the event should be further expanded in future.”
The second exhibition in the smaller hall – the award-winning products of the Promotional Gift Award – provided further stimuli: All 37 winning products in the categories Give-aways, Communicative Products, Premium Products & Branded Articles, Custom-made Designs, Customising Techniques, Packaging and Best Practice could be inspected. Here too the exhibits had a “wow” effect on many of the visitors.
Lecture programme with local flair
Parallel to this, a lecture programme took place on the stage in the smaller hall. Speakers from companies that use haptic advertising in their brand communication were invited to share their experiences and present case studies. To make sure the local flair didn’t get a raw deal – three of the four speakers intentionally came from the Cathedral city: “The people of Cologne enjoy celebrating themselves,” as Jörg Pfahl, Project Manager of FC Cologne at the sports marketing company, IMG, remarked in his lecture “E Jeföhl – Produkte erzeugen Emotion. Business-Marketing beim 1. FC Köln“ (A feeling – products generate emotion. Business marketing at FC Cologne). Pfahl demonstrated how the cult potential of the brand FC Cologne grows in spite of poor sporting performances and to what extent this is influenced by singing toasters, football kits and hand-signed postcards.
Prior to that David Meisser, Brand Manager of the beer brand Sion Kölsch, presented the “Haptic Kölsch Marketing made by Sion” under the slogan “You don’t have to understand Cologne. You have to feel Cologne”, which among others includes the creation of the 0.2 l-bottle with a relief embossing. Johann Maria Farina introduced the audience to the sensual world of fragrance marketing. The Executive Director of the traditional Cologne company Farina 1709 spoke about “The seduction of the senses: How Farina Eau de Cologne gave the name to a whole range of fragrances.“ German Schulz, Brand Management Director at the German League football club VfL Wolfsburg demonstrated how customers or fans of a brand are involved more and more in the decision-making process and design of a promotional product – under the buzzword crowdsourcing – with his presentation entitled: “Tangible passion – brand management with the support of the fans.”
The lecture programme proved to be a crowd-puller: Each of the speakers attracted between 70 and 100 listeners, many of the visitors stated that they had attended the event primarily because of the lecture programme.
From 3 p.m. onwards, the stage in the smaller hall belonged to the winners of this year’s Promotional Gift Award: WA Publishing awarded this prize for promotional products and promotional products concepts for the eleventh time. The host Till Barth briefly introduced the expert panel of judges – Michael Mätzener (diewerbeartikel gmbh), Michael Scherer (WA Publishing), Eva Spahn (Lufthansa Worldshop), Birgit Weigel (Volkswagen Accessories) and Martin Zettl (marke
Even before the evening programme, a champagne reception after the PGA award ceremony gave the visitors the opportunity for a communicative exchange: Manufacturers and distributors, designers and product developers, users and agency professionals didn’t just take advantage of this occasion to discuss ideas and trends or develop new projects. “The event has the nature of a family get-together,” observed PGA award winner Jürgen Kampmann, Kampmann GmbH and also Nadine Kittelmann, Bauchgefühl, was impressed by the gathering: “Everyone, who is here, wants to present his ideas, show that they are part of this sector and that we interact with each other in a friendly way. We held great discussions with fellow distributors, something which doesn’t happen in this form at other shows like the PSI.”
The evening get-together offered the exhibitors, Promotional Gift Award prize-winners and visitors the opportunity for further networking. More than 300 participants accepted the invitation and many of them took a special souvenir home with them. Two so-called “pyrographs” mingled under the guests and drew portraits of the visitors with sparklers, which the guests were allowed to take home with them as a memento of an event, which showed the many facets of the promotional product. There is of course room for improvement – i.e in the layout of the fair – the premiere certainly proved that the HAPTICA® live holds plenty of potential, both as a source of inspiration and communication platform as well as an image booster for the haptic advertising segment. Following the event, in addition to lots of praise, constructive suggestions were put forward – which is a good indication that the concept and the implementation had aroused interest and was well-accepted within the industry and among the users. Afterwards, hardly anyone mentioned the bad weather – which is always a good sign.