Craziest Trade Show Tactics Ever: The LinkedIn Community Weighs In

Posted by Tom Hand on May 26, 2016 7:30:00 AM in Trade Show Success


While trade shows are a very serious and important part of many companies' sales and business development strategies, crazy things sometimes happen. We asked the LinkedIn community to share the craziest trade show tactics they've seen. The post struck a chord.

Mainly, we learned what not to do, including sexist tactics that objectified women. Some were pretty funny. We thought we'd share the chuckle. Enjoy.

Clever "Boothless" Exhibitor

An exhibitor lost his entire exhibit in shipping and was left with nothing to exhibit. Undeterred, he found a piece of cardboard, a magic marker and wrote, "You know what happened. Talk to me anyway." He received a lot of attention, booth traffic, and sympathy.

The Packaged Woman

At a generalized industrial show hosted by a local chamber of commerce, a packaging company was wrapping a very curvy model with shrink wrap on a turntable. She was "dressed" by the machine's fifteenth revolution, but she looked like she was wearing body paint. A massive crowd gathered containing few qualified potential clients and one very upset model.

Remember, It's not about the size of your crowd, it's about the quality of the attendee in relationship to your products and services. It also goes without saying that tactics that objectify women are not appropriate.

Zoo or Trade Show Booth?

A live zebra was housed in a makeshift stall positioned at the edge of a 20 x 20 booth. A handwritten sign was hung on the cage that read, "This is not a horse, it will bite you." The zebra had no correlation to the company or to their products, but did generate a lot of puzzled expressions from attendees. Not necessarily the hoped for reaction after investing a lot of money to exhibit at a trade show.

Roping in Attendees

One exhibitor's booth featured a cowboy with a rope who literally lassoed people in the aisle and pulled them into the booth. While this tactic is clever, there is a great deal that can go wrong here. We strongly advise going this route.

The Striptease

A Russian technology company had "booth babes" who actually stripped hourly down to tiny bikinis. Male exhibit staff at a neighboring booth watched the show so many times during the course of the show they actually mirrored the strip tease during the last "show" of the show. The strippers were laughing so hard, they couldn't even finish!

The striptease performance drew a crowd, but no one ever stayed to talk with the company about their products.

Green "Crocs" and Massive Lines

At a pharmaceutical industry trade show attended by very highly paid PhDs and senior executives, an exhibitor new to the show built a huge, clear Plexiglas container that filled a good portion of their 40 X 40 booth. In the Plexiglas container were hundreds, probably thousands, of pairs of green plastic shoes that were supposed to look like Crocs. Every couple of hours, the exhibitor would give away pairs of the shoes for a specified amount of time. Dozens of extremely well-paid, highly educated professionals stood in line to try to get a pair of the shoes. Attendees even came back during the next giveaway period if they did not get a pair the first time.

A lot of excitement, a lot of plastic shoes given away, but very few ever stayed to talk to the company representatives.

These are true events. Hopefully they got you smiling. Maybe they got you thinking about your in-booth activities. Do they attract a qualified audience of prospective customers? Or are they a sideshow?

Thank you to the LinkedIn contributors who made this post possible.

  • Brad Gudim, Synergy Ventures LLC
  • Paddy Power, Trade Show Exhibition Consultant
  • Peter Barrett, Business Development Manager, GES EMEA
  • Sean Roberts, Independent Global Exhibits & Events Consultant, Standingstonez
  • Joe Forrest, Sr. Account Executive, Exhibitus
  • Candy Adams, Freelance Tradeshow Exhibit Project Manager
  • Dave Egan, Writers Direct Group

Keep the conversation going! If you have a crazy trade show story, we'd like to hear it. Share in the Comment area. If you need help selecting a display in order to avoid similar faux pas, contact our experts: 888-777-0223 or visit our website:

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