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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

PSI Dusseldorf: Heavy Traffic, Suave Italians and Bare Naked Ladies…

Filed under: Personal, PSI Shows

Hi from the Fabulous PSI Show!

For those who may have been worried about the economy’s affect on the show’s attendance, their fears were allayed quickly, as the event drew a record number of distributors.

If you haven’t been to the PSI Dusseldorf Show, it is the world’s largest ad specialty event, with over 900 suppliers taking up more than 500,000 square feet of exhibit space.

The booths are spectacularly stunning, as Europeans put a heavy emphasis on design, display and presentation. And, because every booth has ample seating and serves food, soft drinks and cocktails, it encourages distributors to stay longer in each booth, and to really take the time to discuss business and build relationships.

As an example, myself, my “work husband” Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales, and Rich Fairfield, ASI’s senior vice president/publisher (the poor soul who’s our boss — he often uses the word “unmanageable” to describe Ron and I) stopped by the Italian Association’s booth to visit my friend Lorenzo, the director. While there (at 11:00 a.m., mind you), we were served the best parmasean cheese, prosciutto and Chianti I’ve ever had. Needless to say, our meeting lasted for an hour, which is about the time most distributors spend in an exhibitor’s booth. For me, it’s just a special thrill to engage in sanctioned drinking before noon — it’s delightfully fun, without that pesky feeling of being a degenerate rummy.

And it was awesome to see friends from the U.S. industry — such as Gemline’s Jonathan Isaacson, Pearl Luck Trading’s Herb Levy, Hit Promotional Products’ Bill Schmidt, JMTek’s Kyu Lee, IMC’s Wendy Simons and Barry Fogel (who exhibited), Ogio’s Nick Wright and Prime Line’s Jeff Lederer — on the show floor and walking around the city.

Rich and I stayed on Polyconcept’s “hotel boat” as guests of my beloved ones, the company’s CEO Philippe Varnier and its CFO, Yann Leca. It was TOO much fun, as was the show itself. Check out the photos below and more soon from Paris, where Rich and I are now heading for the weekend. I’m a total Francophile, so France is my happy place. J’adore Paris!!!

Here’s my lofty goal for the weekend: Have a torrid, steamy affair with a long-haired, inappropriately young French guy, where we smoke cigarettes, drink great wine and sit in cafes debating the madness of Modigliani. Because, as Oscar Wilde (who, like Jim Morrison, is buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris) once said: “To get back my youth, I’d do anything in the world — except exercise, get up early or be respectable.” ; )

— M

I’m not quite sure why this man was in costume, but I give props to any guy with the cojones to sport white tights and a feather plume. He also, for reasons mystifying to me, kept bringing me beer, champagne and chocolate truffles. He was like a jester from heaven…
To reach the oh-so-fabulous Polyconcept boat, which was docked on the river and within walking distance to the show, you had to walk down this steep gang-plank. However, because it had just snowed in Germany and it was 20 degrees, it was icy and dicey. Rich walked in front of me one night, and should I have slipped, we would have both ended up floating down the Rhine.
The Polyconcept boat was truly like a hotel, complete with lounges, restaurants and an exercise room. As I have a visceral aversion to any sort of physical activity, I certainly would never spend time in a gym, Lord knows — nor would I ever own a pair of sneakers. Rich took this photo of me, in my fur coat, stilettos and cigarette on a stationary bike… I pedaled three rotations and thought my lungs had collapsed.
This is me with my friend Lorenzo Mazzucchelli, sales manager for the Italian promotional products association, located in Milan. He is impossibly charming, with that silky Italian accent that makes my knees weak to hear him say my name. “Ah… Me-chele…” I intentionally stalked him at the show so every time he saw me, he would give me the double-kiss on the cheeks, like Euros do. I know… I’m SHAMELESS!
An overview of one of the four halls that housed this year’s PSI Show. The show is so big because the booths are often three times the size of booths in the U.S. The Senator booth, for example, had two floors and encompassed three aisles.
Here’s Philippe Varnier, the CEO of Polyconcept — Europe’s largest supplier and the owner of Leed’s, Bullet Line and Journal Books — and I, in his booth. Have I told you lately that I love him??? My nickname for Philippe is “Mr. Suave” and he lives up to it!
Philippe’s team made these fun rosy pink sunglasses to give away at the show as self-promo pieces. To help attendees stay positive about the economy, the imprint says: “The Outlook for 2009 is rosy”
Bella hosted a fashion show in its booth, starring long, lithe and luscious models. Clearly, Europeans take a less puritanical stance than the U.S. when it comes to nudity, and aren’t offended by it. Which brings me to the next photo…
Yes, you are seeing what you think you’re seeing. This model modeled topless every day of the show, while this artist painted her skin. Needless to say, the traffic this booth generated was of epic proportions. And to quote a famous episode of “Seinfeld” involving a girlfriend of Jerry’s (played by Teri Hatcher) spongy girl parts and the question as to whether or not they were real, this girl’s were and they were spectacular!
One exhibitor at the PSI Show, Machma, actually constructed a 40-foot bar and built walls with embedded fish tanks. Click here to see a slightly surreal, Dali-esque video Rich shot with my camera…