A Tale of Two Booths

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When talking to prospective corporate clients, sometimes it’s hard to clearly illustrate the benefit of having SUM Booth at your event, since there aren’t concrete sales comparisons or other metrics to contrast in convincing manners. In reality, our core benefit is brand exposure, photo marketing and connecting your product or company with a fun experience and a unique keepsake. So how different would an event go for a company if they did or didn’t employ our services?

At FanExpo Canada, that opportunity presented itself to answer that age-old question in the closest thing to a direct comparison as we’ve ever seen, and the results speak for themselves, to say the least. First a little backstory on the event and the two booths and companies being compared.

fanexpo_logoFanExpo is basically the ComicCon of the Great White North, where fantasy and sci-fi meet comics and anime, with costumed fans meeting and greeting with their favorite stars from past and present. SUM Booth was there with Upper Deck, a trading card company, on their first venture into FanExpo, primarily because 2013 was the first year an official sports element was added.

With that being said, the sports area still played a very faint second fiddle to the core entertainment areas of FanExpo, and was segregated in an isolated hall near the celebrity autographs and photo ops. So, wait — were there sports fans there at all then? Of course, but only a small percentage attended FanExpo solely for that element.

Joining Upper Deck in the sports area was another main card producer — Panini — which was promoting it’s line of NHL cards much like it’s market rival Upper Deck. There were also a number of private vendors selling cards, jerseys, and other pieces of memorabilia, however the two core players in the sports area were clearly Upper Deck and Panini, both with large inviting footprints for guests, bold graphic panels, card displays and employees to field questions. However, Upper Deck was outfitted with one thing that Panini didn’t have — us.

With that being said, below are some images of the two booths taken within minutes of each other. Let’s see if you can notice any differences between the two. It’s kind of subtle, so you really have to get close to the screen and look hard.

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So if you paid close attention, one booth is packed with guests, exposing attendees to the company and giving them a branded keepsake to take home and share with others. The other is, well, not.

exterminateLet’s be clear that this isn’t a slam on Panini at all. They are a very reputable brand that puts out a quality product, and we at SUM Booth actually know a handful of people within the company — which is why comparing the two booths was the perfect experiment. However at events such as FanExpo, the reason you travel to Toronto for 4 full days is to maximize the exposure of your brand — otherwise what’s the point of being there? Sure, the air-conditioning was nice and the low-murmurs of the crowds were soothing, but let’s be honest, these are businesses whose goals are profits through market exposure, brand recognition and a sense of a connection between the company and the clientele. If we’re keeping score on who “won” in that regard, it’s hard to ignore the images above.

The shocking thing was we weren’t even targeting the core “demographic” of the event, which was skewed hard to the entertainment side of things. However, our service and offering was so unique that people just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take home a momento from the event — whether it was the Riddler or a member of the X-Men or Pikachu or a Stanley Cup winning Dalek that later told us getting his hockey card made was one of the highlights of the entire event.

If there was ever a way to see what SUM Booth can bring to your event and your brand, this was it.

Be a Socialist

Much like the mainstream press, photo booths of all shapes, sizes and formats have been making the transition from print to digital over the last few years, and SUM Booth is no different. Although the allure of instant gratification and getting a printed photo in your hands is still there, let’s be honest, people want to share that photo  — and they want to share it NOW.

They want to share it with friends, family members and high school classmates that they haven’t spoken to in a decade on Facebook. They want to text it to themselves so they can spend 20 minutes applying every single Instagram filter to the image and post it along with 35 hashtags and/or emojis. They want to tweet it to let everyone know how much fun they’re having and how awesome their life is. We know all of these things to be true, because we do them all too. #guilty

With that in mind, SUM Booth has taken a few different routes to allow guests to share images, and we wanted to break down a few examples of what we’ve done, and what we can potentially do for you.

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Tokyo Game Show
While QR codes are kind of an afterthought marketing ploy US companies toss on packaging and ads, in Japan they are quite popular — and believe it or not, people actually scan them! Kind of crazy, we know. With that in mind, we were asked to take photos of attendees of the Tokyo Game Show at the Konami booth, more specifically photos of guests with a variety of characters from the Metal Gear Solid franchise, which was celebrating their 25th anniversary. Not only would guests receive their 4×6 photo on site, but each image was instantly available online and accessible with a unique QR code placed on the back of the photo itself. Simply fire up your smartphone, scan the QR code, and your specific photo would appear. A pretty simple solution and application for what the client was looking to offer.

 

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SXSW
Parties and social functions are a great time to implement some sort of social media sharing aspect, and Fandango implemented just that at a recent SXSW shindig. The client requested that SUM Booth have a variety of movie themes — and full on costumes! — for guests to choose from and play make-believe in, and when we combined it with a little Hollywood green screen magic, the scenes came alive. But of course, what’s the point of having this awesome photo in your hand and not be able to share it to all of your friends that very second? So SUM Booth had a tablet-based sharing kiosk where guests could go up and post their image on Facebook, tweet it out, text it or email it to themselves (or others), and it was a feature that proved to be very popular.

 

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Castrol
If you’ve ever doubted the popularity of soccer in the US, you’ve got to attend some of the games that we’ve worked in conjunction with Castrol. True, the bulk of the games are a part of the nationwide (Olympic gold medal winning) Mexican National Team tour and their legion of fans all over the US, but even Major League Soccer games and events are a spectacle to be seen, as soccer fans are a very unique bunch. Let’s just say they remind us all that fan is short for fanatic. During pregames festivities at all of these games, we work in conjunction with Castrol to promote their brand through a unique offering — trading cards. Fans love it, not only because they walk away with their own trading card in minutes, but let’s face it, they also love it because it’s free. Last year, we implemented a social media aspect to the trading card that gives Castrol more of a presence after the event is over, garnering them additional brand exposure, Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Each card is affixed with a unique code and a site retrieval URL on the back, so guests can access a branded splash page — which automatically redirects to either an English or Spanish version — that displays their card and a variety of sharing options. While this type of online retrieval is nothing groundbreaking, coupling it with the delivery of an actual double-sided trading card to guests at the event itself is somewhat unique, and we’ll gladly say we’re the first and only company to do it — until someone steps up to correct us.

These are just a few different ways SUM Booth brings our unique, custom designed photos to the digital realm — but we aren’t limited to what was described above. For the most part, it’s important to know the goal the client is trying to accomplish. More Facebook likes? Additional brand or promotion exposure? On location data collection? Once we know the goal, we can cater the sharing experience to suit those needs.

Are you looking to bring any of those aspects to your next event? You know where to find us.

We <3 the 80's

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When you’re taking photos at an 80′s dance party, you never really know what to expect. Well, that’s not entirely true, because you know to expect neon — LOTS OF NEON — that is likely sourced from the American Apparel on South Congress. However, outside of neon, it’s a toss up.

At this year’s version of Austin’s New Wave Ball, not only was the neon out in full force, but there were plenty of playful 80′s era costumes as well. There was Robocop, Ghostbusters, and Rainbow Brite. There were pants-less Risky Business types and baggy pantsed MC Hammers, as well as America’s favorite basketball playing werewolf — before werewolfs were cool — Teen Wolf (seen above).

The New Wave Ball has become more and more of an homage to the 80′s era and all of it’s neon goodness — which also raises money for the Austin Children’s Shelter — and those are two things we completely support.

Puppet Dreams

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Do you dream of puppets?

Well, Neil Patrick Harris does, at least in his latest web series Puppet Dreams. After working a handful of Nerdist events in the past few months, we were invited to take part in the wrap party for Puppet Dreams, which is among a number of series they distribute to the teeming masses online.

With a series that involves puppets, it’s only right that our photo booth incorporated that aspect as well, and thanks to the Jim Henson Company’s band of puppeteers, that’s exactly what happened. In reality, guests had the option to pose with puppets from the series, or a “digital puppet” of Neil, or both. When it was all said and done, people had a great time interacting with both types of puppets and it made for some really, uh, unique photos.

Nerdist events have always been a blast to be a part of, and we aren’t ashamed to admit that we can’t wait for the next one. Until then..

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Prize Fighters

We work a number of sports related events — from large scale events like the Final Four and All-Star Games to private functions with superstars like Alexander Ovechkin — so when we were approached to work at a boxing related event, our ears perked up. When we learned it was a fundraiser for the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation that would take place on the Santa Monica Pier and that Hot Dog on a Stick would be a part of the catering, well, the calendar was pretty much cleared for that date.

The event organizer wanted an “in the ring” scene, so we put together the design you see above and added some sponsor touches (and a hidden SUM Booth logo — can you find it?). Toss in a championship belt, some stylin’ white gloves and an in-ring microphone, and you’ve pretty much set the scene for some fun fisticuff photos.

Casino Royale

Who said dentists don’t know how to party? Actually, I don’t think anyone ever really said that, but let’s dispel that non-existant myth right now.

Case in point: the 2012 Townie Meeting Opening Party at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, which brought together teeth-focused folks from all over America in a James Bond inspired setting. Much to our surprise, the attendees weren’t just there to awkwardly mingle and take advantage of the catering. These people were there to party, and were dressed accordingly in a variety of 007 and spy-related outfits.

Don’t mind Austin Powers though, he just showed up in the hopes of some free dental work.

Toro Time

As we hinted on Twitter earlier this week, SUM Booth was going to be making a special appearance at the Austin Toros playoff game up the highway in Cedar Park. For those of you unfamiliar with the team, the Toros are the NBADL affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs, and we figured it was only right to reward their diehard fans with some customized keepsakes to commemorate such a great season.

With so many sports franchises in our service areas — everything from the San Diego Chargers, Padres, LA Dodgers, Angels, Kings, Lakers, Clippers, Ducks, Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars, Rangers, Houston Astros, Rockets, Texans and the San Antonio Spurs (see, I told you there were a lot)  — we’d love to collaborate with teams like these and their corporate sponsors to bring a unique item to their fans. With on-site marketing and a viral social aspect, it’s a great way to reach a target audience. However, all the metrics in the world don’t mean anything if the photos aren’t sweet looking, and that’s what we take the most pride in — because really, who wants a wide-reaching campaign that looks junky? Not SUM Booth.

A Town constructed primarily of Brackets

Bracket Town, the NCAAs fan fest revolving around the Final Four, is always one of our largest events of the year. Not only is it 5 straight days of custom trading card creation for thousands of fans, but it’s also 3 photo stations running simultaneously for the entire time, which makes it a whole ‘nother animal.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the event a success yet again — whether it be local help, the SUM Booth crew, the army of volunteers, or all of the fans who waited in line to take home a personalized piece of the 2012 Final Four.

Yu-Gi-Woah..

Here’s a glimpse of our line after returning from our lunch break at the 100th Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series event in Long Beach. Record crowds of over 4,000 gamers flocked to the 2-day event, with many of them flocking to our photo booth as well, as you can witness in the photo above.

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We here at SUM Booth love kids. We also love the 80′s. So when the Austin Children’s Shelter approached us about coming out to their annual 80′s themed dance party fundraiser, we said yes faster than Sloth would say yes to a Baby Ruth.

Normally, our standard service includes a print of some sort, but at dance parties people aren’t always able (or sober enough) to spend the night holding on to a photo, so we opted to go with a digital delivery with a live slideshow of all the images so party-goers still could get their instant gratification fix. As a result, a totally tubular time was had by all.

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