A true original?
I was reminded of an old Barbara Grizzuti Harrison quote at Paperworld: "There are no original ideas. There are only original people."
There was certainly a lot of the latter complaining about the former to me. "Where is the innovation- said one despairing representative of a manufacturer.
When I suggested that perhaps if his company had chosen to exhibit, then that would have at least added some innovative product into the mix, he looked at me like I was a mad man.
The problem with Paperworld, someone else explained to me, is that despite enough exhibitors to fill a small town and visitors to fill a medium-sized one, there is no real new product on show.
Am I being naive but isn’t that missing the point? February has never been the time or place to suddenly unleash that new nuclear powered stapler on the market. And certainly not this year of all recent years.
For those operating in the European industry, Paperworld is more a meeting place to catch-up with that special supplier, client or someone they’ve been promising to see for the past year.
Having said that, there were rumours of industry-shaping productsTM buried in a vault beneath the Marriott Hotel – where many of the industry’s largest companies hire many moderately sized suites to discuss their inner most secrets. I did get as far as the suites but – despite my most cordial requests and care not to abuse the coffee on offer (a difficult ask in the morning after the European Office Products Awards, trust me) – an invite downstairs was not forthcoming. That suggests three things: a) you don’t trust trade journalists (sensible); b) you don’t think journalists are important enough (probably true); and c) that maybe it’s not that innovative after-all (well…?).
The fear of being ripped off by smaller companies at Paperworld has turned the big vendors paranoid and a void of innovative product has been created. Little wonder that the companies from (and I quote another show visitor) "that place in Asia" feel it is worthwhile to risk being caught pushing counterfeit product. Once again they played their game with the people charged with proving that some ideas really are original and stands were left bare. But how do they get as far as exhibiting in the first place?
There were mixed reports from the floor on visitor numbers and some were pleased, some not. But I don’t think I’ve gone to any trade show and found a consensus on whether the numbers are as good as before. Even when they really are up (which in this case they were not). My anecdotal polling suggests the new Saturday start was not a popular move and I was surprised to see the Messe Frankfurt surveys suggest otherwise. However pre-show fears in some quarters that it would be a disaster were proven to be unfounded.
That reminds me, got to go, another earnings announcement has just come into my Inbox, which further reminds me of another great Barbara Harrison quote: "I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly. Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock."