From the Editor: Old hands and innovators need to work in unison

When the Foreign and Commonwealth Office surveyed overseas companies in 1999, it found a need to market UK firms as forward thinking, pro-Europe and capable of delivering quality and innovation.

Expo 2000, staged in Hanover, saw this realised around the hospitality suites and content of a British pavilion costing £7.5m. During the six-month tenure of these world fairs, participating businesses are thought to benefit by around £34m. Five years on, Expo 2005 opened in Japan last month (page 5). The budget for a British pavilion has been slashed to £3m and the location may hamper European interest but with 15 million (mainly Asian) visitors expected, the influence these live environments possess has never needed a stronger role model.

The live marketing landscape continues to change, with agencies like Ten Alps in Japan and organisers such as Brand Events creating environments where exhibitions once stood. Media agencies at the launch of Weekend at Dave's (page 6) were optimistic that the lad-branded event could attract 30,000 high spending men. More traditional show organisers regularly struggle to attract media agency interest, let alone convince them of the marketing power of their environments.

Two men at the Association of Exhibition Organisers recognise the challenges such changes present. Austen Hawkins and Trevor Foley's plan to run other associated bodies has seen accusations of an entrepreneurial spirit bordering on corporate greed. But their dedication to increasing the role of face-to-face activity within the marketing mix is unquestionable. It would be wrong, therefore, to deny that pulling together the marketing punch of experiential campaigns and branded environments and sharing the available resources and practices with exhibitions would benefit everyone. It's this premise that the Event Awards are built upon - bringing the broader industry together to celebrate excellence and share best practice in an ever changing world. The deadline for entries is 7 June.

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