Origins of the Trade Show Marketing, The World’s Fair

Mar 1, 2019

Puerto Rico Trade Show

Puerto Rico Trade Show

Art, architecture, industrialization, and cuisine were all irreversibly changed with the advent of global travel and the World’s Fairs. The Chicago World’s Fair is one of the most famous and these fairs took place over a period of 6 months to a year. They were open to the public and were a boon to tourism in the host city. There are purportedly three eras of World’s Fairs, Industrial, Cultural Exchange, and Nation Branding. During these eras and even today, nations are branding themselves through tourism and this marketing sets the stage for globalization and advent of the manufactured products and services exchange that became, in part, the modern trade show.

Wildly imaginative spaces showcased different countries in the world, and countries shared their food, their technology, and their marketing! In the eras of World Fairs nations not only exhibited products, technologies, and services, but they also were doing something of a buzz word, they were branding themselves. Does that sound familiar? Modern trade show marketing, while not open to the public, has its’ origins in part to the World’s Fair. Trade show marketing today utilizes similar sales techniques and exhibit practices as the World Fair from graphics, to microenvironments. The use of promotional models, giveaways, and marketing collateral are all derivative of these events. How has trade show marketing changed? 

In trade show marketing there is always more to be done since it is constantly changing, from collateral to branding. Interestingly, with the advent of digital marketing, the landscape has changed further with LED Skins and 3D graphics on trade show walls, qr codes for special offers, and the immediate buying power of decision-makers on the trade show floor. Certain shows such as CES or InfoComm are still spectator shows where the public can see the latest in innovations. Our clients are within industries that conduct as much as 40% of their annual revenue at trade shows, whether it is securing distribution, networking with existing clients, or unveiling new products. Most consumers are buying from alternate channels digitally, but for large scale distribution and manufacturing transactions, the trade show is still the most fertile ground for increasing business. This all necessitates trade show marketing that is dynamic and eye-catching. 

One of the most direct parallels in marketing between the World Fair and trade show is within the tourism industry. Interestingly, Exhibit Experience is a trade show exhibit provider for a number of countries who attend shows around the world relating to tourism and our booths are similar in branding. SeaTrade and FCAA are trade shows coming up that spotlight the Caribbean and port cities to the cruise industry. Effectively these booths must function similarly to the World Fair during the Nation Branding period and entice travel buyers and air, sea, and land executives to make tourism to their destinations more valuable. Take for example Puerto Rico, here is a postcard from the World Fair and also our Puerto Rico booth, you can see that from this period, the Nation Branding period that the color palette has not changed. Politics play a part, but everything from the color palette to the icons of nations were derived from the marketing minds at the World Fair. If you are an exhibitor looking for a company that thinks out of the box and draws on the past for inspiration in the present, contact our creative department at Exhibit Experience! 

Exhibit Experience offers turnkey trade show exhibits with a custom look at a fraction of the price. Contact one of our sales representatives for a complimentary consultation.

Puerto Rico Trade Show

Live Puerto Rico Booth

Exhibit Experience Booth





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