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“Made in Germany” Ads Seek to Boost Trade Fairs

What advantages does Germany have as a trade fair host? That and other questions are answered in “Messen made in Germany,” a new advertising campaign launched by the country's trade fair association.


Essen's "House and Garden" fair is the place for garden gnomes.

In no other land do trade fairs play as strong a role as they do here in Germany. The country currently controls 20 percent of the world’s market for trade fairs, and five of the world’s largest trade fair organizers are based here. If you calculate only the biggest trade fairs, Germany’s leadership role is even stronger – two-thirds of the world’s 150 leading trade fairs are held here.

Together with the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA), Germany’s biggest trade fair organizers have launched a new advertising campaign intended to attract more trade fair exhibitors to Germany. The message of the campaign, which will involve the distribution of brochures abroad in seven languages, is to clearly articulate the advantages of the trade fair business in Germany. More than 155,000 posters and brochures will be distributed around the world as part of the campaign.

"It includes everything people need to know about the most recently held events here – visitor numbers, exhibitor numbers, floor space, everything," said Peter Neven, AUMA’s business manager. "But it also includes information about our Internet presence, how to use our databank as well as information about Germany’s attractiveness for tourists. In other words: Everything one needs to know about trade fairs in Germany."

Importing growth

ANUGA 2003 Werbeplakat für deutsche Produkte

Cologne's ANUGA fair is one of the largest in the food business.

According to the association, foreign exhibitors are a crucial growth market for German trade fair organizers. The percentage of international exhibitors at Germany’s trade fairs grew 15 percent between 1998 and 2002, even as German exhibitors became more cautious amidst recession conditions in recent years.

"At international trade fairs in Germany, foreign exhibitors hold a 50 percent share," said Neven. "Of course we need to do more to advertise Germany as a trade fair center...There’s no avoiding the subject here. Every company has to decide, practically and for itself, whether participation in a trade fair is the right marketing instrument. We now want to more strongly position trade fairs as something that will help businesses conduct a more efficient communication policy."

Global focus

Even though there is particular interest among trade fair organizers in the Asian market -- especially China, which is developing a lively trade fair market -- the new ad campaign isn’t just focused on a single continent.

The association has lined up more than 400 centers to distribute the ads, said Neven. "We can’t say that we’re giving specific markets more information about German trade fairs,” he added. “We’re also supporting, above all, the activities of our members. We’ve given German trade fair organizers access to foreign offices and the German consulates, general consulates, embassies and chambers of commerce, who are all working closely with us. The brochures are being distributed everywhere Germany has an outpost abroad. We can actually say that Germany is a global trade fair center where the whole world converges and no single market is given preferential treatment.

Eastward opportunities

With a view to the European Union’s eastward expansion, Neven said the German trade fair market is well aligned to take advantage of the new business opportunities. "We’re in a very good position, especially when you consider that the French, English and Italian trade fair companies are not really as present (as German companies) in Eastern Europe," Neven said.

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