Leading the way

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Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD, praises the UK exhibition industry and talks getting on the trend bandwagon.

 

However much we joke about the Germans, we can’t help but admire some of their attributes.


Their efficiency, their total self-confidence, their football team and some of their words, that uniquely capture phrases in a way that other languages can’t.


Schadenfreude is a sensational word; it’s creeping in to modern day parlance here in the UK and so it should. If you’re not familiar with it, it means taking pleasure in other people’s misfortune – there’s some depth there.


Another is zeitgeist. This means to capture the moment or reflect the times – and it’s here that I want to dwell a moment.


There was a time when the Germans would puff their chests out further in terms of their exhibition industry and while they certainly are excellent at bringing the whole city and supporting facilities to life when a show is in town, they are way behind the UK in terms of innovation and speed of movement – adaptability to the market.


Our marketplace is uniquely entrepreneurial, which creates a hotbed of new ideas and a constant stream of launches. The exhibition industry has expanded considerably in the UK over the last 20 years due to a number of factors but one significant ingredient is the engagement with the UK’s population. Everything is now an event.


Look at the growth of initiatives such as Secret Cinema or London Lumiere, the light show last year that packed the streets.


On the surface, these ideas are not complicated, but the thirst for events from the British public, for different experiences to attend, is creating bountiful opportunities. It could be argued that we are now at our most vibrant.


So where can we go from here? Where’s the next stream of growth and innovation?


We continually hear that the UK has the most sophisticated exhibition market, which makes launching all the more difficult, and yet the UK keeps pumping out events for the world to follow.


The latest trend, the zeitgeist if you will, seems to be the gathering of communities attached to fanaticism. Star Trek, Star Wars, Lego, and Walker Stalker Con are just a few examples of fully engaged communities that can easily be transformed into events and the exhibition community should be getting on the bandwagon.


Currently, many of these events aren’t being run by exhibition organisers (with the exception of Reed who have the Star Wars contract from the US), which seems like a missed opportunity. Instead they are being put together by agencies despite being run in exhibition venues. Surely our marketplace is the best equipped to bring these ideas to life?


Anywhere there exists a huge fan following, a craze or trend, then an event for thousands can follow.


Pokémon, Twilight, Peppa Pig, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons, I could go on. A popular film, anything that involves dressing up, popular pastimes; these all create amazing and committed communities, that would love to gather, compare, share and experience.


The UK is the perfect place to launch events of this nature and we have the creativity and resource in our exhibition community to steal another march on the rest of the world.


These events will keep coming and the more obscure or wild, the better.


In London recently, the naked restaurant was launched and has a waiting list of 37,000 – no, that’s not a typo. So how long before the naked exhibition launches here, or perhaps that is one for the Germans?

Julian Agostini
Posted by Julian Agostini
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