It recently occurred to me that event displays as a form of advertising has become a very successful enterprise. Many companies and small businesses seem to have jumped on the bandwagon as you are seeing more and more of these custom designed banners, marquees and accessories everywhere from the high street to local markets.
One of my favourite things to do is to exhibit horses at our local Agricultural Show. Every year I arrive early and settle the horses into their yards and then go for a walk around. It’s something of a tradition for me to buy a strawberry milk shake from the stall of our local dairy co-operative. Their milk is always fresh, frothy, chilled and tastes like real milk should. They use plenty of strawberry topping and a generous dollop of malt too. Last year I walked right around the ground twice before I found them and I really needed that milk shake after all the effort of finding where I could buy it. This year as I was gazing across the sea of tents and marquees I immediately saw their stall from right across the show ground. It seems they have invested in some paraphernalia for event display and now have a nice big custom marquee in the company colours and with the logo prominently displayed. The milk shake tasted every bit as good this year. In an attempt to shed some of the calories I walked around looking at the exhibitions and stalls.
That’s when I realised that almost every exhibitor had some kind of event display happening. Local Agricultural Shows are not just about farm animals and produce. They are also a showcase for regional businesses. The local agent for heavy farm machinery had all the tractors and implements neatly lined up behind a very trendy blow up marquee with Redlands Farm Machinery emblazoned across the front archway. Every tractor was accompanied by one of those banners with the manufacturer’s name. The table that held all the brochures was covered in a bright red cloth once again proclaiming the name of Redlands. There were three car dealerships alongside and they all had their own printed marquees and banners calling the faithful to come along, hear the engines roar and absorb that new car smell that some people find so irresistible. There were food stalls, clothing sellers, the world’s best oysters, natural face creams and goats milk soap. You name it: it was on display, up for sale and protected from the elements in a custom event display marquee.
Next day was show day. We saddled up and entered the arena. This year our ring was right near the grandstand; with, you guessed it, a whole row of banners advertising the major sponsors of the show. There was a nice stiff north easterly breeze blowing and those banners were fluttering merrily. My horse took one look and bolted. I found out the hard way that he wasn’t a major fan of an event display. It took me half a lap of the showground to stop.