In with the new

It is no secret that the future direction of the industry’s granddaddy event, Paperworld, is the subject of much debate. Following the absence of many big names in Frankfurt in January this year, Ruth Lorenz, divisional manager for Messe Frankfurt’s Paperworld, told OPI+ that she was "absolutely not happy about it. If the industry is not joined together through product ranges and brands, it’s a big pity."

So with Paperworld needing a bit of a boost, it came as no surprise last week when the Paperworld Strategy Commission agreed "new activities for 2007". Measures include: a completely new and innovative concept for the floors of Hall 3, the inclusion of new visitor target groups and a fresher and more modern advertising campaign.

Lorenz explained to OPI+: "The thinking behind the decision was to make Paperworld an all-encompassing experience. And the new hall structure was part of this. We were keen to show the power of innovation in the industry not just through the products on offer here, but also through the whole set-up and architecture of the event."

Messe Frankfurt collaborated with Clemens Weisshaar, an internationally renowned industry designer and architect, to create a completely new design and look for the floors of Hall 3. The space, which up until now has been laid out in a very uniform way, will be opened up and the aisles widened, which the designers hope will create a more "urban"feel where "wide avenues and plazas invite visitors to amble and look around". Special displays and communication forums will feature the latest trends in the industry and run like a red thread through the hall. In addition, food and drink outlets will now be incorporated into the hall. Until now, they’ve always been outside.

A fresh and modern slant on a traditional event is sure to get the thumbs up among both exhibitors and delegates. But Paperworld sceptics may see additional motives for the move as the floors of Hall 3 were those that this year were plagued by the absence of big names including Esselte, Smead Europe, Fellowes, Avery Dennison Europe and Acco. "Opening up" the hall to include spacious "wide avenues and plazas" could be the perfect way to hide space left if the big names fail to return to Frankfurt in 2007 – or if more manufacturers announce their non-appearance.

Another part of the Strategy Commission’s plan is to attract a completely new group of visitors, which Messe Frankfurt hope will inject the event with a new supply of lifeblood. This new group of visitors will include corporate buyers, the central buyers of large concerns and conglomerates. "Up until now, these people weren’t allowed to visit the fair during the trading days. But as the distribution and trading structures change in the office products industry, so are potential new sales channels," said Lorenz. "Paperworld’s Strategy Commission has identified new visitor groups from the semi professional field, which from now on will be incorporated in all national and international marketing activities. And at the very front of those new target groups are corporate buyers and sales directors from industry conglomerates, civil servants, as well as people like architects and graphic designers. With this move, we are hoping to create some new, high calibre visitor potential in the future, all with very large buying budgets."

Messe Frankfurt is determined that these changes will not go unnoticed and they will be illustrated in a new advertising campaign for Paperworld 2007. In addition, the organisation’s traditional trade media campaign will be complemented for the first time by ad campaigns in the daily and business press just before the fair.

It is undoubtedly positive for the industry that the organisers of Paperworld are rejuvenating the event and, by opening up to new visitor categories, increasing possible revenue streams for exhibitors and delegates alike. After all, the OP industry is ever-changing and its largest event should reflect the trends.

Lorenz was certainly correct when she said: "In the long term, I mostly hope that Paperworld and the whole industry will never stop to grasp new opportunities and realise new visions – that is essential for the life and versatility of this industry."

But how much new life these changes will infuse into the event remains to be seen. Next January will certainly be interesting.