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Video Games, Virtual Reality & Trade Show Success

At any trade show, “the number one goal is to attract people off the floor with some kind of compelling experience,” says Rick Barsotti, principal at San Anselmo, Calif.’s Mahalo Digital. He should know. Having worked in the digital space since 1996, he says Mahalo Digital is the trifecta of his passion for delighting clients with unexpected creative, his love affair with the culture and natural beauty of Hawaii, and living each day in the spirit of appreciation and gratitude. All of that has given the firm a unique perspective that intrigues and delights.

One company that has benefited from the firm’s expertise is data-storage company EMC Corp. When they wanted to ensure that attendees of EMC World – an annual exhibition of data storage solutions – were as engaged as possible, they turned to Mahalo Digital. Cross-media techniques helped create a trade show experience that delivered.

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A History of Trade Show Excellence
Whenever Mahalo Digital works on a concept for EMC World, it is important to think outside the box. A technology trade show, in particular, attracts an audience that’s used to living on the cutting edge.

For example, for EMC World 2014, Mahalo Digital developed a video game called ViPR Strike, which promoted EMC’s ViPR data storage product. It was an arcade game concept that featured a variety of characters that represented different elements of the ViPR technology. Not only were the characters the stars of the video game, but they also played a role in other elements of the campaign, as well. “We actually used those characters as part of the print signage to pull people in,” Barsotti says. “We’re constantly taking the visual assets and the messaging assets and peppering them throughout the experience.”

So how do you top a video game that comes alive on the exhibition floor? In 2016, Mahalo Digital looked to the concept of “virtual reality” – with a bit of a twist.

“With virtual reality you’re kind of blocking out the rest of the world,” explains Barsotti. Mahalo Digital wanted to create an environment in which trade show attendees would be immersed in an experience while remaining engaged with the world around them. In other words, they wanted to give attendees a view into “augmented reality” by letting them take a virtual tour of storage products.

“What’s beautiful about augmented reality is it’s a bridge where we can overlay a digital story to provide a whole new level of experience,” Barsotti explains. “In this case, we were able to look at actual EMC products and solutions.”

iPads served as the starting point for the digital adventure, “and people would look over with a friend or co-worker or colleague, and they’d have a shared experience.”

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Infusing Elements of Cross-Media
Mahalo Digital turned to cross-media techniques to enhance the augmented reality experience. For example, to attract attention, they created printed cards that promised trade show attendees a prize if they visited one of the augmented reality stations in the exhibition hall. “It was kind of like searching for the Golden Egg,” Barsotti says.

He and his team also made sure the other branded elements of the campaign, such as signage, room drops, posters and even advertisements in the trade show book were integrated, so attendees would be able to recognize the common feel.

Mahalo Digital prides itself on having built its reputation as “digital mountain movers” who make big things happen with little time. “You’re forced to innovate and do ‘the next best thing’ because that’s the way you can stand out,” he says.

The creativity Mahalo Digital showed paid off, as attendees at EMC World were drawn into the virtual worlds of storage and came away with a better understanding of how they could enhance their lives with technology. Mahalo was able to capture their attention and create real measurable engagement. And that, of course, is what trade show success is all about.

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Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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