The PPAI Expo is such an exciting time for PPAI and the entire industry as we gather together to celebrate all this great industry has to offer. In January, we hosted The PPAI Expo 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and it was such an extraordinary experience. It was incredible to see everyone come together to advance the industry and discover what’s new and next in promotional and experiential marketing. Expo kicks off the year and brings to the forefront innovation, trends and advanced technologies in promotion, gifting, fashion, decorating and sustainability, as well as activation and engagement strategies. This year, more than ever, we’re seeing technology inside the products allowing marketers to measure behavior and track the success of their campaigns.
It is also important to note, that no matter how long we’ve been here as an industry, we’re still growing faster than most media. Last year we grew at more than six percent, which is almost twice the average GDP. What we’re finding is the more advertisers are using digital and other innovative marketing methods the more they’re looking for something like a promotional product to break through the clutter and build a relationship between the brand and the consumer.
Below, I am pleased to share with you a brief recap of just a few of the many highlights from the extraordinary experience that is The PPAI Expo.
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PPAI hosted The PPAI Expo® January 12-16, which continues to be the largest, occupying more than a million square feet of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and longest-running trade show in the promotional products industry. Approximately 13,000 promotional products distributors from nearly 4,000 distributor companies and 33 countries came to Las Vegas to experience the industry’s best-attended show.
The PPAI Expo 2020 was among one of the largest and most-attended shows in the event’s history. In addition to visiting the more than 1,220 exhibitors occupying a sold-out show floor at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the 21,000-plus industry professionals attended more than 115 educational sessions and networking events. Participants were also treated to the updated look and feel of the show that included a brand-new murmuration design.
The 2020 show featured numerous experiences designed to create excitement and engagement in different areas on the show floor. The EXPO Live! interactive stage made its return and provided live streaming of product demonstrations and interviews with notable Expo speakers, exhibitors and industry leaders. The stimulating pop-up activations included fun-filled activities such as roaming photo booths, virtual-reality experiences, donut decorating, live music, and oxygen, caffeine and themed food bars. The Beer Garden offered a laid-back environment on the trade-show floor that welcomed more networking opportunities among industry professionals.
The puppy petting booths returned and were provided by Wagging Tails Rescue. Most of the adorable puppies were available for adoption, and they all live in foster care until they’re adopted to their “fur-ever” families. Therapy goats were also on-site for petting sessions and goat yoga, and they were provided by Petting Zoo 2 U.
The ever-popular Sneak Peek and Product Pavilions featured a new category, Giving Back Products, incorporated into the already-stellar lineup of New Products, Green Products, Made In The USA Products, Express Ship Products and 1st-Time Exhibitor Products. New to the Expo this year was the PPAI Fashion Show, which offered distributors three different opportunities to learn about emerging trends and new supplier products, and the Professional Development Domes, conveniently located right on the show floor, offering attendees additional educational opportunities in a unique space.
During the PPAI Association Update, Bellantone reported on PPAI’s continued organizational growth, noting that the Association reached 16,000 members during this year’s Expo.
During the show, thought-provoking and inspirational general session and keynote speakers included Ben Nemtin of MTV’s The Buried Life; Molly Fletcher, a former sports agent dubbed the “female Jerry Maguire” by CNN and ESPN; and Dr. Rick Rigsby, president and CEO of Rick Rigsby Communications, founder of Rick Rigsby Ministries and former college professor, mostly at Texas A&M University.
In lieu of the annual PPAI Pyramid Awards celebration, recipients were honored in numerous ways throughout the show. This year there were 46 Gold, 35 Silver, 11 Supplier Stars and 10 Supplier Awards of Merit winners. During the annual Chairman’s Leadership Dinner, the industry’s luminaries, dignitaries and leaders celebrated the achievements of two industry legends, Carl Gerlach, MAS, of Gill Studios, Inc., and Roni Wright, MAS, of The Book Company as they were inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame. Tribute was also paid to this year’s winners of the Distinguished Service Award, Rick Brenner, MAS+, and Kippie Helzel, MAS, and the H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient Rod Brown, CAS.
The next installment of The PPAI Expo is set to be held January 10-14, 2021, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.