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

PSI’s Dusseldorf Show Gets Its Gold On!

Filed under: PSI Shows, Travel

Hi Everyone!

Just got back from the 48th PSI Show in Dusseldorf, Germany, which was quite the success! The show, the largest ad specialty trade show in the world, attracted 883 exhibitors, nearly 19,000 distributor attendees from all over the world, and took up more than 370,000 square feet of exhibition space.

It was a special year for my PSI friends, as the organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The show’s exhibitors seemed to give a nod both to PSI’s golden year and the hot commodity that is gold, as that was the predominant color most items were shown in. My favorite new items? A pocket, portable GPS device for those walking around a city, personalized logos to customize bottles of beer and wine with one’s face, a motorized mini-hovercraft toy that can be controlled by your iPhone, BlackBerry, etc., and a watch that doubles as a phone… How cool and secret agent-ish is that?  

Other news included the announcement of ProPSI — an alliance of Pro Exhibitors & Publishers and PSI, who are joining forces to create a new show that will be held from August 25-27, 2010 in Amsterdam. (Will I be there? That’s a “hell to the yeah!”) For more information go to http://www.pro-8.eu/page/news/155

I took some photos, below, but here are some from PSI’s professional photographer of the 48th PSI Dusseldorf Fair: http://www.psionline.de/bildergalerie_messe_1-946.html

The 49th installment of the PSI Dusseldorf Show will be held from January 12-14, 2011. For more information go to www.psionline.de.

Cheers, and more from the PPAC Show in Toronto next week!

— M

Here’s my travel pal Ed Koehler, ASI associate publisher and an all-around super guy! My favorite thing about Ed? He has a voice like Lurch from the Addams Family. Listen here: http://www.addamsfamily.com/addams/yourang.wav. In this photo, we were at a fabulous Mongolian barbeque restaurant in Düsseldorf called Mongo’s, where they have intensifying degrees of hot-sauce marinade. Special Ed went for the hottest, called “The Bomb.” This is his reaction after taking his first forkful. Me? I drank my weight in Riesling… ; ) (From left): My boss, ASI executive vice president & publisher, Rich Fairfield, Polyconcept’s CFO and member of ASI Advisory Board, Yann Leca (have I told you all lately how much I adore Yann???) and Ed Koehler, having dinner aboard Polyconcept’s boat which they keep docked on the River Rhine for the duration of the show. The Polyconcept staff — about 100 people — stay on the boat, and clients and special guests are invited to join them each night for dinner.
Why do I love Europe? Because the boys look like this… Meet Francois Vehoeven (left) of the Netherlands-based company Big Bang and Albert van der Veen, PF Concept’s director of product development. They were as charming as they are adorable… These sparkly white winter woodland sprites were the spokesmodels for the Thermo Togo booth at the PSI Show. They looked like the ice princesses from fairyland, and as though they needed some Irish coffee to warm up…
A unique way to exhibit promotional displays, these life-size cut-outs were eye-catching and drew lots of traffic to the supplier’s booth. The Polyconcept team invited their friends and clients from Staples Promotional Products for dinner on their boat and graciously invited me along too. It was a relaxed, fun and interesting evening, and meeting Nina was highlight — she’s one of my new favorite industry people. (From left): Graham Winter, managing director of PF Concept UK Limited; Yann Leca; U.K.-based Nina Lyons, purchasing manager for Staples Promotional Products; U.S.-based Howard Trilling, vice president of international sales for Staples Promotional Products; Polyconcept’s chairman of the board, Philippe Varnier; and U.K.-based Rod Cullen, managing director of Staples Promotional Products.
The PSI lounge, a rest area for attendees, was tres cool and came complete with squishy beanbag chairs, hanging beads (which reminded me of the kind you used to have to walk through to get into that Den of Iniquity of 70s retail stores, Spencer’s Gifts, where my mother was convinced orgies were being held under the black lights and velvet posters of nymphs riding unicorns) and a bar. I sank into one of the bean bag chairs and wallowed in the comfort, until it was time to get up again. Then, I struggled like an upside-down turtle on its shell… 
The Macma booth — which, with its partner company’s booth, Easy Gifts, costs over $1 million (US) — is spectacularly baroque/rococo, in a red and black velvet, True Blood/Marie Antoinette kind of way. After the second day of the show, a party was held in the Macma booth, featuring a band, open bar, hors d’oeuvres and many smoking (both in the aesthetic and inhaling sense) Europeans.
Philippe Varnier, Polyconcept’s chairman of the board and the suavest man alive, and me during dinner. Jeff Kramer, the founder and former owner of Bullet Line — which was sold to Polyconcept in 2006 — recently bought a thoroughbred race horse. Its name? “Thank You, Philippe.” (See images, below) 

Hot Times in Chilly Orlando…

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun

Happy 2010, Everyone!

I’m just back from the ASI Orlando Show, where — despite record cold temps (in the ’30s!), the show was a huge success. From Education Day, to General Colin Powell’s keynote address, to the sizzling fashion show and rollicking amusement park gala, the show was a fantastic way to kick off a new year and decade.

There were tons of creative, wow-worthy new products introduced by our industry’s ingenious suppliers and everyone’s mood was positive, upbeat and optimistic.

Here are some quick photos from the trip, and more next week when I’m in Dusseldorf, Germany for the PSI Show — the world’s largest ad specialty event.


— M

Dave Saracino, one of the industry’s favorite personalities and the man at the helm of Counselor Top 40 supplier BIC Graphic, held court at an Orlando establishment — Aw Schucks — with as much character as he has. The highlight? Senoir Saracino did a rousing rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” When you’ve loved and lost like the Chairman of the Board and the vice president of BIC, you bring down the house.  (From left): The always-charming president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Polyconcept North America David Nicholson, Counselor Top 40 distributor Gateway/CDI’s CEO Chuck “Chuckles” Fandos and Polyconcept North America’s national sales manager, Scott Anderson, my new favorite person. David graciously invited us all to dinner and that evening was the highlight of the show for me. Rock on, revelers.
Counselor Top 40 supplier Gemline’s national sales manager, Steve Hettrick (center) and Chuckles Fandos — someone who just makes me happier whenever I’m around him — pose with a friend at Aw Shucks. If you ever get a chance to have some cocktails with Chuck or his partner at Gateway/CDI, Conrad Franey, run, do not walk.