Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails....chances are somebody has made them into a foam stress item at one point in the trade show world. In an effort to reach out to trade show and event attendees, many exhibiting companies are resorting to the old squeeze play. OK, so I've overdone the analogies. The truth is the world of foam stress balls has grown beyond stress balls. And some of the participants are using the little foam guys in an integrated fashion and to great advantage.
At the recent NACS show I saw a variety of things in this category: foam giraffes, cars, sumo wrestlers, gasoline storage tanks (really), footballs and wrist bands. Anything that you could want in a foam shape, you could have to take home. In fact, one of my colleagues said he's been collecting these things are several years and has hundreds of them.
The best example of an integrated use of a foam figure was Quantum Services. While most exhibitors come up with a foam thingee at the last minute or as a gag, Rachel Bernhardt and the crew at Quantum build their exhibit marketing image around the giraffe icon.
Quantum (www.quantum-services.com) provides audit services to the convenience store industry. Their booth graphics rely on the giraffe icon and they've tied advance show mailings to an offer of a free giraffe when they arrive at the show. They've also used the spotted long-neck fellow in other media to attract attention. It's more than just a squeeze toy: it's a memory and a conversation starter.
Lesson Learned: use foam squeezers in an integrated way to attract attention, start conversations and be a reminder later.
*thanks to Rachell Bernhardt and Quantum Services