HIMSS13 with Dodge Communications: Our team picks the best and worst in the exhibit hall
Wow. What a week. Twenty Dodge employees descended upon New Orleans to join some 34,000 of our closest friends and colleagues. As we negotiated the exhibit hall to find our clients' booths and lead them on the long journey to the press room, we wanted to take note of some of the outstanding exhibits and displays. We also thought it might be an opportunity to identify some others that we feel might have room for improvement. Here we go:
We'll call it raspberry, and hats off to both the Alere booth and the Caradigm booth for such a bold display. We actually preferred the Alere treatment--kind of like an essence-infused sparkly water--just a hint of raspberry to stimulate the senses.
Goes to Greenway for the French-guy-robot-thing proudly broadcast on the gazillion-inch screen on the main aisle. You may remember that last year the award went to this-thing. We couldn't remember whose booth that was in, and at least this year we remember it was Greenway. Wait, is that a good thing? We talked to him--we mean it--for a little while, and despite the fact that he--it-- was eerily smart and intuitive, we couldn't get past the fact that he--it--was weird. Don't get us wrong--we love Greenway and the very visible programs they support. This one just didn’t work for us.
Goes to Café du Monde for their beignets. Didn't see them in the exhibit hall? That's because we were smuggling them in to help us get the attention of some exciting innovators that we wanted to meet on the floor.
The Dodge team couldn't come to a consensus on this one, so we're giving three awards:
First goes to the Indian food:
We wondered why there was no line at this concession stand in the back of the exhibit hall, then we saw the 3 foil pans full of colored "food" and thought maybe they were having a brand problem. Anyway, the server was kind enough to let us snap a photo to memorialize the scene (wishing the camera could capture "smell.")
Second award to the tasty dogs and spicy links:
We’re wondering if the large signage helps with sales of these delicacies. (We can just hear the food and beverage manager saying: "We added large signage to promote the unique value proposition of our dogs and links, resulting in an increase in sales of 12% YTD")
And the third and final worst exhibit hall food award:
Goes to sushi. We mean SUSHI. In the exhibit hall. The food and beverage manager was afraid people might not be aware of this new offering, so they printed the giant sign to inform the masses. Rumor has it that one member of the Dodge team actually tried the sushi after being coerced by a fellow employee. The rest of us couldn't quite describe how hungry we would have needed to be in order to try the exhibit hall sushi.
Maybe they could brand some of the rolls and sell the rights to the exhibitors? Like the Epic-Kazi? roll. Or the Rainb-oracle Roll? Now we're on to something…
Speaking of unique sponsorship opportunities, kudos to SSI for scoring the unique floor stickers.
We don't know the rules--did SSI purchase the only sponsorship that HIMSS13 offered? Or were there others available that were not bought by another company? Either way, unlike most of the signage that was so crowded and in your face, we found the SSI floor-sticker-signage was an opportunity for a little brand awareness in an uncluttered way. (Who knows, maybe it was just a rogue marketing department that put the stickers down without HIMSS knowing about it at all. Maybe the convention center staff tried to remove them, but without water (if you know what we mean) they couldn’t figure out how to remove them until it was too late!)
Speaking of uncluttered, (the segues just keep on coming) you can be certain that if you want your male staffers to have a unique look that stands out in the crowd, force them to wear pink pants, like they've done at Voalte. Add an accent aigu and you've really got something unique. We took an informal survey of our staff, and 83% said they'd quit before they agreed to wear pink pants at a business conference.
Some of you might be wondering if there was a second place for most unfortunate booth attire award. Yes, the Onyx nurse. Photo was deleted by our corporate sensors.
Definitely goes to the hand-on-head guy.
We stopped by to inquire about this unique device and what it had to do with their company (nothing, we learned). The gentleman was nice enough to let us take a picture, and he was thrilled that the device worked! We stopped by! (What was the name of that company again??)
OK, let's move back to the actual exhibits. We were so impressed by all the beautiful exhibits, and we thought that generally, companies did a better job than in years past creating a compelling property with clear messaging and a solid opportunity to engage. We would have loved to comment on every one of the exhibits, but our time was limited, so we've picked some of our favorites.
The Dodge team felt that this Intersystems included too much information for exhibit signage, and rather than strengthen their message, it detracted from it. But, hey, maybe if they put the booth images into a PowerPoint presentation, they'd be all done and ready to present right out of the gate.
If you look closely at the multitude of screen shots on this exhibit, you'll see callouts that describe each screen shot. We thought this one was interesting: "Over 24 Communication Protocols supported out of the Box." The Dodge team wondered about the upper-case use of "Box" and wondered if there was really a "Box" all along and we just didn't know that. We're working on a white paper called "Making a Case for Upper Case: Or not." Watch our website for details.
And the award goes to SCI. We always wonder what other options the company looked at before they choose a dome-tent-type structure. But whoever the designer was for this project, they also got the client to buy in on the tree structure with the hanging round signs. We're not sure what the theme was for the tree. We looked at it for a few minutes to try to figure it out and then had to move on.
Every year we find some signage that is a random collection of words--different sizes and type styles--and this year we've named a special award category for this particular style of signage. The Dodge team asked: Are we supposed to be impressed that the company knows all these words? Are we supposed to be comforted that the words align with words that we're familiar with? Are we supposed to feel anxious by all these words and want to come inside the booth to relieve our anxiety? We never feel good about signs like these. We're jus' sayin'.
Some logos stand the test of time. Others, not so much. We always recommend that our clients look critically at their own identity every year. Is the logo dated? Are the colors out of style? Does it need to be refreshed because the typestlye and the design don't reflect innovation, forward-thinking, vision? We think this identity needs some refreshin'.
Acknowledging the longest walls: Not an award, but an acknowledgement that there continue to be long, impenetrable walls on the exhibit floor. Booths we couldn't enter because we were on the wrong side. We wondered, Isn't there a better, friendlier way to design an exhibit that's welcoming from every angle, from every side?
The Dodge team couldn't help but notice that the show wasn't ready to close for another half hour (see our watch in the foreground) but this enthusiastic booth staffer had not only STARTED to break down the exhibit, she was already FINISHED! She was sitting there, patiently waiting for something, and we're not sure what. If a legitimate prospect came by, wouldn't she be embarrassed that she closed the store early? If the HIMSS police came by, wouldn't she get busted for breaking down early? If she's reading this (We don't know who it was. Her company sign was already packed up…) might we recommend that if this is the strategy, you might as well take off so nobody can take you to task?
This was SUPER tough this year. So many gorgeous, contemporary, welcoming, fresh exhibits. The winner is Cerner. We found their booth to reflect everything that is important, despite its humongousness. Great job.
That's it for this year. We hope you enjoyed our assessment, and we'd love to talk with any of you about your booth, your brand, your messaging, or anything else that falls into the category of integrated communications. Comment on this post or reach us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-998-0500.