With some of the biggest trade shows and exhibitions coming up, you may be in the process of preparing your marketing strategy to ensure you see a return on the investment of your booth. With this in mind. we have reviewed some of the more remarkable attempts companies have made to stand out at an exhibition.

1. WePay’s stunt of dropping cash into 600 pounds of ice at the 2010 PayPal developer’s conference

WePay, competitors of the more well known Paypal, froze hundred of dollars in a massive 600 pound block of ice and placed it outside of the trade show. They pulled this stunt at the trade show to tell everyone in attendance that “PayPal freezes your accounts” and that you should “unfreeze your money”… by switching to WePay, of course.

While we don’t recommend trolling the conference you are attending (this eventually ended with a high speed chase involving a pallet mover) this stunt generated significant attention.

The stunt was covered by TechCrunch and rode the front page of Reddit for an entire day. There was a 300% in weekly traffic, 225% increase in signups and they received 10 CV’s from Paypal employees looking for a job!

Tradeshow marketing exhibition standing out

WePay’s slab of ice


2. Paypal persaude a whole exhibition to wear their bright orange shirts.

Interestingly some argue that Paypal had the We Pay stunt coming. They too pulled off their own stunt on their, at the time, fierce competitors eBay. A group of PayPal employees headed to California for a major eBay event and set up shop in a hotel next to the exhibition. They spent the evening before handing our free PayPal branded t-shirts.

The next morning during eBays keynote speech around 25% of all attendees were wearing PayPal t-shirts. Ebay saw their exhibition taken over by their competitors. A few years later, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion.

3. Sales Force’s form a mock protest

To launch their new product Salesforce.com hired actors to pretend to be ‘protesters’ at an important exhibition. The actors were protesting for the values behind Salesforces.com’s service and picketed the exhibition centre with signs chanting. “The Internet is really neat … Software is obsolete!” They even hired a fake TV crew to cover the ‘protest’

The Managing Director had even considered hiring an armoured tank to enter the scene, but then decided that “such a stunt might be too outlandish,”.

The protest turned more than a few heads and secured coverage in dozens of top-tier business publications.

Standing out a trade show exhibition

The Salesforce.com mock protest


We recounted our experience of marketing at trade shows here but what are the takeaways from these stunts:

Have a dedicated landing page

We pay created a special landing page for their campaign: UnfreezeYourMoney.com. This landing page had a 10% higher conversion rate than their main site.

Be ready for new customers

Sales.com had prepared for a spike in interest from their protest stunt and were ready for for emails, calls than normal. With lots of new potential clients interested after the stunt, the team needed to be ready to respond on all forms of media and create a brilliant first impression.

Think outside the box

When you create something different people will want to know how you did it. Document the process on twitter and take pictures to share how you did it. WePay described the process on their blog.

Give something away and generate buzz

The t-shirt stunt was replicated by Squidoo to great effect. They printed 600 t-shirts with a letter printed on explaining how Squidoo helps people market themselves on eBay. They gave the t-shirt away, promising to pick someone wearing the shirt money for ads on Squidoo. Within an hour their orange shirts were all over the show and every single t-shirt was taken.

What have you got planned for your next trade show? Have you witnessed anything extravagant?