How Roland created a 40 000-square-foot exhibit that worked
At this year’s Winter NAMM conference in Anaheim CA electronic musical instrument manufacturer Roland learned that space alone does not guarantee a successful exhibit. The company had a massive 40 000 square feet of exhibit space to work with so the challenge wasn’t figuring out how to fit inside the display area. The challenge came in finding the perfect way to showcase each product line which included everything from keyboards synthesizers and digital grand pianos to professional electronic drum kits and guitar effects. “It’s a huge space but we have a wide range of product lines that are marketed and targeted to a variety of audiences ” says Mari DeManty trade show and exhibits manager at Roland. “It becomes about just defining that space… and fine-tuning it so it targets those audiences.” (Agency: George P. Johnson Auburn Hills MI.)
Although the show is not open to the public more than 80 000 NAMM members and guests attend the show including retailers that buy sell and distribute musical instruments so making the right impression was essential.
A quick peek at the components that helped create and define Roland’s immense exhibit:
Separate Product Areas. For a 40 000-square-foot exhibit in a show devoted to showing off musical instruments competing noise can be a problem. To help create individual environments for the product groups Roland rigged separate truss “super-structures” over the exhibit space (Lighting partner: Entertainment Lighting Services Sun Valley CA). “From that I dropped soundproof ceilings and walls to create theatrical settings for each of these areas ” DeManty says. The truss is also used to support the booth’s lighting audio and video applications and all graphic elements.
To actually display the products Roland carved out individual rooms that put the instruments into settings that musicians could relate to—from an edgy dark candlelit guitar room to a brick-covered school room the vignettes offered NAMM attendees the chance to interact hear and play music in a space they could identify with. “Live demonstrations are big with us ” DeManty says. “We like to professionally demonstrate our products and be there to answer questions.” Nearby hands-on product stations invited attendees to put on headphones and try out all the latest new gear being demonstrated.
A Shared Theater. For large-scale product demos Roland created a 50-foot-by-64-foot enclosed theater that the music product groups shared over the four days of the NAMM show. Each group had slated times to introduce and showcase its new products to a crowd of up to 250 people.
Staff with Know-how. For a show that requires intimate product knowledge to connect with attendees the brand forgoes typical temp ambassadors for internal folks. Roland has more than 60 musical staffers on the show floor in addition to its sales teams credit and customer service staff that are also on site. A bonus? Less time needed for training because there are no product newbies on the floor. “A musician’s expertise is such that if the product changes we’re going to need to make sure that we have a person that’s comfortable with that product ” DeManty says. “These guys you put a musical instrument in their hand the gun goes off and they know what they need to do.”
Meeting and Office Space. Because NAMM is Roland’s largest selling trade show the company also had to create a comfortable meeting area. A portion of the exhibit was devoted to space for more than 80 desks for the Roland sales team as well as its international staff. Another 18 private offices were available for high-level executives and for additional conference space.
Before and After. With an exhibit this size and an investment this large it would be a shame to not leverage it to the hilt. Roland took advantage of its space by scheduling events for both pre- and post-show hours. Pre-show for example the brand invited its joint-
venture companies to bring their dealers in for a preview of the products. Also before and after hours the exhibit played host to private press events and new product launches.
Behind the Scenes. To maintain a show of this size the company devoted approximately 6 000 square feet of exhibit space to a behind-the-scenes area. Hidden from view the space held much of the product and support staff needed to keep the exhibit up and running perfectly including back-up gear lighting and electrical equipment dimmer pits storage and the A/V setup.