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Plug It In
Perhaps the only thing more universal at a trade show than a lanyard is a cellphone. But for all the unprecedented access they offer, cellphones come with an aggravating Achilles' heel: batteries whose brevity can turn even the calmest attendees' poise into panic when their devices go dark. That's why savvy exhibitors, like the five highlighted here, offered captivating cellphone-charging stations to help juice up their brands as much as visitors' cellphones. By Charles Pappas
Cable Station
What better way to show off a new product than to allow thousands of potential customers to use it right when they need it the most? At the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Belkin International Inc., with the help of Pinnacle Exhibits Inc., promoted its new Mixit line of USB charging cords by integrating them into a series of vertical charging stations. Measuring roughly 7 feet by 2.5 feet each, the stations' powder-coated metal exteriors cleverly mirrored the gold, silver, and rose-gold tones of the new cable line. Every day of the show, up to 2,000 CES attendees surged into the company's booth to make use of the charging stations, which generously offered not only six cords apiece, but also a firsthand demonstration of Belkin's assortment of Mixit products.
Rescue Dogs
Most times, trade show attendees have to find a charging station. But sometimes, the charging stations find attendees. That reversal was Mophie Inc.'s strategy for touting its portable charging accessories at the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film conference/trade show in Austin, TX. Over the course of the three-day expo, from noon to 6 p.m., visitors whose phones were petering out could tweet to @mophie with the hashtag #mophieRescue. Their distress signal had to include a photo of the dying device and their current location in Austin. Then, Mophie staff chose lucky individuals to receive a digital rescue, tweeted them back that help was on the way, and sent links to a Glympse interactive map that tracked the staff's progress toward them. Working with Indian Motorcycle International LLC and the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation, Mophie staffers zoomed out to the SXSW guests along with a St. Bernard accompanying them in a sidecar. Playing on the theme of the illustrious pooches conveying barrels of brandy around their necks to the aid of snow-bound victims, the staffers and canines arrived with Mophie products transported in neck-borne barrels. Besides fueling guests' devices, Mophie's twist on stationary charging stations realized 193 million print, online, and broadcast media impressions.
Potato Power
To capitalize on the Potato Expo's "The Power of the Potato" theme, Bayer CropScience AG and BBDO Atlanta Inc. spent weeks developing a spud-themed charging station. Inspired by the old-school science experiment where you power a light bulb by connecting it to a potato with conducting cables, the agribusiness company built a charging station consisting of 1,000 spuds, 1,000 copper nails, and 100 feet of wire. Not surprisingly, the distinctive 9-by-4-foot structure became an instant traffic builder and singular conversation piece. While attendees came into the booth by the bushel, staffers explained how the moisture inside the potatoes interacted with the zinc and copper in the wiring to create an electrical current that was in turn charging the guests' phones. With the process and the explanation of the science behind the tuber-based tool holding guests captive, staffers could then segue into conversations about Bayer CropScience's products. Talk about a powerful traffic-building tactic.
Table of Content
Visitors to EXHIBITORLIVE could have stopped at several locations to boost their phone batteries, but many chose Mirror Show Management Inc.'s booth. There, the exhibit company offered a 43-by-32-inch Plexiglas-topped table inside its exhibit, where visitors could charge up their phones and see the company's handiwork in action at the same time. In the few minutes that it took to recharge visitors' devices, staffers explained how the charging hub – which features a central console that projects LED light to edge-illuminate etchings on its surface – could be easily customized for attendees' brands, using, for example, the Pantone Matching System to accurately duplicate logos and taglines of every hue. Guests watched with rapt attention as the table, fueled by a battery inside the matte-black base, displayed glowing logos and messages, hypnotically enchanting them and efficiently energizing their devices at the same time.
International Energy
To showcase its global presence to 2016 Pack Expo International attendees, India-based Flex Film Ltd. and its exhibit house, Zig Zibit Inc., erected a 12-foot-tall wall that also functioned as a charging station. A global map covered the partition, with charging cables extending from the six different countries in which the company has offices. The locations were also visually marked by those nations' flags, which denoted locales such as Mexico, Egypt, and Poland. Attendees rested on a comfy sectional and stools and plugged in their phones while staffers served refreshments. By the time visitors left, the station's subtle branding had increased their awareness of the company's worldwide reach just as much as it amped up their devices.

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