Exhibition trailers and mobile units

Listen to this article

Big name brands are reaping the benefits from going mobile and meeting their target markets on familiar turf…

Literally speaking, there’s mileage in marketing. And according to new High Street sales figures from BDO, the economy should be inflating with optimism after retailers reported a rise in spending for the second consecutive month; like for like sales are up by more than eight per cent on last year – a positive indicator.

Despite such encouraging glimpses, it would be unwise for business to assume that the economy is back on an even keel. That said, recent months have seen examples of ingenuity and a realisation that in the wake of a downturn market position can be determined by one’s actions during a recession.

Stand Out learned of an example recently: Dream Marketing is currently working with Mobile Promotions. It organises mobile exhibitions that travel the UK and Europe; 24 carefully-selected traders have the opportunity to sell their wares to the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. And the multiple stakeholders are all under the roof of a single Mobile Promotions expandable trailer, each taking a small “stand” space within the mobile exhibition.

Dream Marketing, based in Reading, believe that it’s a cost effective way for exhibitors to cover a whole industry in a short space of time and is more environmentally-friendly than those same visitors all travelling to a venue.

The company is planning its next series of month-long exhibitions for September. Also in the pipeline are possible events in March and May 2011.

Mobile Promotions and Dream Marketing have been working together for the past three years. Prior to that, Dream had been using an alternative supplier, yet thought Mobile Promotions a superior product.

The trailer, 13.6m long and 2.5m wide when in transit, expands to give approximately 80 square metres of floor space and is able to gain access to sites with restricted access, such as Airbus, an EADS company in Bristol. Dream Marketing was able to visit this site, a closed environment with high site security and a confidential manufacturing facility.

Mobile Promotions’ logistics director, Colin Allder explains: “This method builds on historic business models when very early traders in, for example, silks and spices, took their wares to the marketplace. By taking the exhibition to the customers we make the exhibitor’s job easier and organisers can better guarantee the exact profile and numbers of the audiences that their event will be reaching. It’s a great benefit to buyers and customers too as it saves on their time and travel costs to and from each individual business or centrally placed exhibition.”

Immersive experiences

There are substantial benefits to be had from utilising trailers – most marketers will be aware of their use for consumer sampling and awareness campaigns. But they can be utilised for business and comms campaigns too.

Working alongside Avvio, EMS used its technical and logistical experience to deliver a bespoke mobile environment that would fully immerse Avvio’s client, Sky, in an internal communications message. It oversaw a complex fit-out of two vehicles designed by Avvio and came up with solutions to equip the units and maximise the opportunity.

Sky and Avvio wanted to do more than just highlight high definition’s (HD) improved picture, better sound and content. It wanted Sky people to really feel it for themselves. Inside the truck, technology was installed to screen the 20-minute interactive presentation that Avvio created. The presentation was shot and played out in HD, and screened on a gigantic HD plasma TV.

Sky employees got the opportunity to experience HD as if they were customers and were invited into Angela Griffin’s and Jamie Redknapp’s “living rooms” to take a look into the future of HD. An interactive quiz also gave Sky the opportunity to get first-hand feedback on what Sky people think and feel about Sky+HD.

In all, two trucks delivered 396 shows, over 33 days, helping Avvio and Sky engage 10,000 members of staff, says Shenan Morgan, account director, Avvio Creative Communications. Gemma Hirrel, senior account manager at EMS, project-managed the tour that saw the branded units visit 25 sites across England, Wales and Scotland to reach: Contact centres, outsource partners (call centres), Sky engineers, Sky retail store members, Sky sales teams, field-based broadcast operations, office-based shift workers and corporate office workers.

EMS won the project in December and dedicated its Challenger 1 and Challenger 2 vehicles to the project.

“Sky’s ‘We are HD’ campaign needed to minimise the downtime away from desks,” says Keith Austin, managing director of EMS. “The mobile unit allowed an immersive experience with 3D screens in the unit, and the project achieved a 19 per cent increase in attendance, up on the previous year.”

Optimum results

According to Marco Trailers’ sales director Stuart Marsom just as the building techniques and materials for units and trailers have changed substantially, customers’ demands for more sophisticated on-board equipment – notably communication electronics – and environmentally friendly power sources have too.

A recent illustration of the pace of change in meeting the needs of today’s experiential marketing has been the Southern Co-op’s multifaceted brief to Marco to support its 130 local outlets. A customer-accessible presence has been required at numerous outdoor events to raise the Co-op’s profile and register its competitive strength locally. This was to be done by communicating offers on-site, in real time, as they were launched in-store. Different stores were then to be supported with different promotions at a dozen different events. Versatility was important, too, as the unit had to double-up as a local recruitment centre for retail staff. With its environmental responsibilities taken seriously, a further insistence by the Co-op was that the unit, towable by an average 4×4, should have its own generator. The answer was a specially adapted X50 exhibition trailer, cleaned and maintained on an on-going basis by Marco.

Says Stuart Marsom: “In experiential marketing applications especially, change and challenge are the order of the day. You stay ahead in this business by using your latest experience to suggest to clients how they may make the most of a unit to achieve their objectives, rather than just doing what they may ask. You’ve got to be proactive.”

And Martin Jetzer, director of Showplace, agrees. The Warwickshire-based company has just completed the build of a bespoke seven-metre trailer for Asics. The footwear giant is set to use the trailer at its first event – the Bristol 10k – which will encourage running enthusiasts to have their feet scanned and examined by a podiatrist to ensure they are wearing optimum footwear that best suits their needs.

The project is the result of a chance meeting at the 2009 London Triathlon. Asics had a presence at the event, but was using a traditional exhibition stand. The benefits of using a trailer were demonstrated to Rebecca Jones, promotions and events manager of Asics, and now the footwear specialist has taken delivery of the unit, which houses five plasmas, an office, kitchen and up to three running machines. The sports equipment has led Showplace to build the unit to a height of 8.6 feet, so that budding athletes do not bang their heads whilst on the treadmill.

Added value

But what of the state of the general market? Despite no SED, Showmobile has seen an increase in spot hire bookings and also contract hire with both private and public sector bookings.

“This seems to be a payoff from our investment in new exhibition trailers,” states Jim Copeland, Showmobile’s managing director. “All of our new models come with LCD screens as standard reflecting the common use of DVD and laptop presentations at shows. We currently have both a seven and nine-metre version our new glazed front models in build for delivery to meet our May show date requirements.

“Second hand sales are still strong, particularly with sales to Europe.  Again we have positioned ourselves at the quality end, choosing not to invest in the less palatable older trailers that would benefit from a government scrappage scheme.  However, our clients are discerning and value aware as a result of the recession.”

Clive Andrews, managing director of Torton Bodies, adds: “With a General Election looming, some of our clients have effectively delayed spending on capital items until the outcome is known. This uncertainty, combined with still being in the midst of a recession, has meant that we have had to look further afield to retain our order book.  We have seen an increase in our overseas markets with several current projects in Oman.”

Closer to home, Torton has been working with Jaguar, which required a modern hospitality suite to use at small shows and large motoring events. A seven-metre trailer incorporating two seating areas and a concealed galley kitchen area allowed Jaguar to host guests.

Due to the economic climate, which particularly hit the automotive sector, Torton designed a finance package of contract hire with Jaguar to spread the costs.

In spite of the tight deadlines, the project was finished on time and the hospitality unit made its debut at Motorexpo at Canary Wharf where it will attend again in June.