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50. ISM: Exhibitors tell us their storys – Part 4

28 Aug 2020

There was less glitter in the past – how has the presence of ISM changed?

Some of you are no doubt familiar with the line out of the Loriot sketch „Christmas at Hoppenstedts", where the granddad complains about the fact that the Christmas trees are no longer as nicely decorated as in his days using the phrase „There used to be more glitter". On the trade fair landscape the opposite seems to be the case, at least according to the memories of some of the ISM Cologne exhibitors, who have been on board since the first event in 1971.

One of the reasons may be that the pure samples show, which placed the emphasis on information, has in the meantime become the leading global trade fair for sweets and snacks, at which one wants to present oneself and communicate the image of the company with a striking appearance. Claus Cersovsky, Executive Shareholder of Rübezahl and the Rübezahl-Riegelein Groups shares this opinion: „At the time, one primarily wanted to inform oneself about the products. One wanted to show what was there, what one had to offer. In the course of time, the emotional aspect has been added. Today, one integrates the products into product worlds. One doesn't merely sell products, but indeed a „feeling". And this is also reflected by the exhibition stand construction."

In 1986, product variety was the focus of the trade fair presentation at ISM

In 1986, product variety was the focus of the trade fair presentation at ISM.

The appearance of the exhibition stands at ISM become more attractive and brighter

Dr. Markus Schinle, Chr. Storz GmbH & Co. KG, owner and great-grandson of the company founder and present at almost every ISM since 1976 recalled: „The stands weren't as professional in the early years, but they were erected with extreme loving care and attention. Most of the manufacturers, including ourselves, erected the stands on-site by hand which took several days. Professional module stands were not so common."

The fact is that at the first edition of ISM the 351 exhibitors made do with simple stand walls provided by Koelnmesse and simple furniture. The appearance of the exhibition stands changed over the years, today extremely impressive stands are among them.

Fred Windel, CEO of the Windel Group, not only sees advantages here: „From a purely visual point of view, the design of the stands is much more attractive today and no longer uniform as was the case 50 years ago. However, the costs and the planning effort involved have increased drastically as a result."

Windel Advent calendars were much sought-after products in 1987 at ISM

Windel Advent calendars were much sought-after products in 1987 at ISM.

And Claus Cersovsky also touched upon this topic: „One shouldn't forget that the costs involved have developed too over the course of the 50 years. Not in a positive sense either. Naturally, you can't possibly compare what a trade fair appearance costs today altogether compared to those days."

The focus on the presentation of the sweets and snacks

This could change with the current development towards „back to the basics", which Dr. Karel Koster, Executive Director, Stereo Holland Gebaeck, which has been represented at ISM Cologne since 1980, seems to be observing: „Initially there was a tendency towards bigger and more impressive exhibition stands. Now – in my opinion – the companies are returning to a more simple presentation of the goods."

However, not only the appearance of the exhibition stands has changed over the course of these 50 years of ISM Cologne, also the regulations are different nowadays.

An anecdote of Thomas Ullrich, Executive Director, Kuefa Werk, underlines how purely fact-based and strict everything was in those days: „I wasn't on board at the very beginning. But my father says there were of course much fewer exhibitors before, especially foreign exhibitors and the stands were smaller back then. The regulations regarding the design of the stands were much stricter. We had to switch off our „lolly tin big wheel" because it irritated our neighbours that something was moving on our stand." Today, in times where everything flashes and runs, squeaks and hums, one tends to really stand out if one does without all the frills."