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Mobile World Congress: A Tale of Two Trade Shows

Mobile World Congress: A Tale of Two Trade Shows

Dualities at Play in Brand Experiences

Could you imagine visiting a museum that used the same sized paintings with only one color and framing style? 

The first few pieces would have your attention, but the rest would get little focus or collect any memorable thoughts. Same with shopping malls: Various shops, each with a different look and feel, entice the shopper to come in and browse. Amusement parks offer a number of rides to appeal to different visitors by age group as well as level-of-dare threshold. 

The trade show floor is no different, and nowhere is this more evident than at Mobile World Congress. MWC had a lot to offer its 90,000 visitors, and at times the exhibition space home of 1,900 stands could feel crazy chaotic. Various large stands try to outdo neighboring stands with lights, devices on display, music roaring, pop-out colors, massive LED screens, and snaking queues for virtual reality Oculus Rift experiences. 

But variety is what makes MWC intriguing. Amongst the chaos and noise, I observed two key dualities at play in the brand experiences created to engage with audiences. 

Exclusive vs. Welcoming

Ericsson and Cisco closed off their stands. These exclusive experiences were to be enjoyed by invitation only. Samsung also closed off a large portion of its stand for partners and media. In stark contract, Microsoft, Sony, and Intel kept their stand very open and welcoming for all to browse and enjoy. 

Why this dichotomy? This may go back to the goals of the brand and where its products are in the sales cycle at the time of MWC. If a brand does not have any major launches, the space may be used to deepen existing relationships with partners, existing or potential customers, and the media. These brands are not interested in scanning random badges to increase awareness. By contrast, brands with big launches want their space wide open with the device heavily on display for all to touch and experience. 

Playful Clutter vs. Retail Sleek

It was interesting to stand in the aisle between Sony and Microsoft. Both were open and welcoming, yet they were so different. Microsoft, with its blue brand color and playful white clouds applied throughout, felt like stepping into a children’s book. Across the aisle was the bright minimalist Sony stand. Exceptional in its finish, Sony showcased devices in the most beautiful manner—a nod to the Apple retail experience.

Huawei and Samsung had the same duality in play. The Samsung stand had a clean, white feel with devices lined up on tables to touch and experience. Huawei connected with the inner child of the attendee, hanging paper planes from the ceiling, which became a photo spot for the visitors.

SK Telecom demonstrated how to create a playful environment while remaining professional and relevant. The booth offered an Oculus Rift experience in a hot air balloon with a moving floor and costume-wearing hosts to complete the experience. Robots, virtual loyalty cards—you name it, they had it. When you stepped onto the SK Telecom stand, you felt like you were on a film set.

Large shows can become very exhausting and sterile. Connecting with attendees in an emotive, playful manner will leave them with memorable experiences of the brand and provides an interesting link with the innovation theme of the event. 

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Niru desai

Niru Desai

VP, Strategy International

Whether at the country, industry, or audience segment level, she specializes in delivering holistic event portfolio plans and creates strategies that go above and beyond clients’ needs. The brain force behind many successful digital and social media campaigns, Niru keeps a finger to the pulse of...

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