PSI Digital: Successful kick-off of online event series

Olesja Kehler

Published on 21.05.2021

  • PSI Digital is the international industry meeting place for around 3,500 advertisers
  • Over 20,000 search queries in the Product Finder
  • Seven Digital Fridays continue the digital concept monthly from June onwards

“Cool insight into topic and production! I would be happy to implement projects with you and strengthen Made in EU.” This comment on a product presentation at the first PSI Digital is just one example of how the virtual kickoff of a virtual event series successfully networked the promotional products industry digitally for the first time.

A total of around 3,500 advertising professionals tuned in when the international network of the promotional products industry digitally brought together the industry’s assembled knowledge for 48 hours from 19 to 21 May 2021. More than 20,000 search queries were made in the PSI Product Finder and the company profiles were clicked on more than 10,000 times. The video content was viewed live and on-demand more than 6,600 times. A total of seven Digital Fridays will follow from June until the next trade show, which will take place in Düsseldorf from 11 to 13 January 2022.

20 hours of programme in 41 sessions

Viewers from all over the world tuned in, including Denmark, Romania, India, the Arab Emirates, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and the USA. A total of 46 per cent of the participants from almost 70 countries abroad sat in front of their screens and watched around 20 hours of live programmes. These were distributed over a total of 41 programme sessions.

In Düsseldorf’s “Sturmfreier Bude”, which was converted into PSI’s live studio, no industry-relevant topic was left out: Keynotes, lectures, panel discussions and workshops covered the latest in digitalisation, law, marketing and social selling. For this, 30 experts were drawn live or digitally into the studio. Olaf Hartmann, Managing Director of the Multisense Institute for Sensory Marketing, was one of them. In his keynote speech right at the beginning of the event, he explicitly emphasised the importance of haptic advertising in the promotional product mix and encouraged the return to live events: “Our brain was created 150,000 years ago in the structure it has today. That has not changed in the last 15 months. That’s why haptic advertising will again make a valuable contribution to the customer journey after Corona, because our brains love haptics and we have a kind of hunger for touch pent up.”

Are hybrid business models the future?

The current and future role of digitalisation and possible hybrid business models of the future were the topics of a panel discussion on day two between Alexander Ullmann, Managing Director of uma Schreibgeräte, Frank Dangmann, Chairman of the Gesamtverband der Werbeartikel-Wirtschaft (GWW) and Steven Baumgärtner, Managing Director Marketing & Sales of cyber-Wear Heidelberg GmbH. “The fact is: Haptic advertising is, as the word suggests, a haptic product. Nevertheless, digitalisation is omnipresent and has its right to exist. For all our optimism about the current situation, we will fall back into old patterns,” summarises Steven Baumgärtner, for example. “Digitalisation promotes efficiency in many areas. You don’t have to fly across the world for every product and every team meeting. But especially when it comes to the product that makes up our business, you need the physical togetherness.”

The topic of sustainability was also prominent on the agenda. According to Frank Dangmann, Chairman of the GWW, the topic now plays an important role for 74 per cent of the companies. It also became clear that the industry is now increasingly aligning its production and corporate strategies with ecological, economic and social criteria.

Product safety: Can the trader be held liable?

The experts from the inspection, testing and certification company Intertek and Reuschlaw Legal Consultants explained what legal consequences mistakes in product safety can have, what happens in the worst case and what measures must then be taken. It became clear that companies do not have to reorganise themselves in order to meet the legal requirements, but can address the issues individually based on their business objectives. When legal advice makes sense and whether it is always the manufacturer who is liable or whether the retailer can also be held liable were just some of the questions that were answered.

Why storytelling is enormously important for the promotional products industry was explained in very practical terms by Caroline Zöller, Managing Director of Forteam Kommunikation GmbH, in her workshop. “People want to be entertained these days. They want to learn something new. The stories that are told must have added value. If you succeed in doing that, they also support sales. That’s why it’s so important not only to tell stories well, but also to tell them in a way that’s appropriate for the channel,” she summarises.

More than 120 exhibitors from all over Europe

On the exhibitor side, the mood was also positive. Around 120 companies from Germany, Austria, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Great Britain were present at the kickoff. “PSI Digital and thus also the Digital Fridays offer a good opportunity to at least stay in digital contact and to exchange views on industry-relevant topics, to inform oneself or to obtain information and knowledge,” said Alexander Ullmann, Managing Director of the presenting sponsor uma Schreibgeräte.

elasto form, koziol and Gustav Daiber, Fare, Halfar, Mbw as well as SND from the JCK Group and Platinum Sponsor Schwan-STABILO also showed their new products online. Likewise, among others, Kalfany Süße Werbung, Paul Stricker, Makito, Master Italia, Troika, Mahlwerck, Result Clothing, Lanyard.Pro and Softibag.

Digital elements will continue to enrich the network in the future

Petra Lassahn, Director of PSI, was also more than satisfied with the result of the first digital kick-off: “For all of us, it was a new experience to digitally represent the products and industry topics of the promotional products industry. Even though no digital event can replace the trade show on site, we have managed to offer the industry an event with added value. I am very proud of that.”

Barbara Leithner, COO of PSI organiser Reed Exhibitions Austria & Germany, also emphasises this. “The team around Petra Lassahn has put together a coherent and strong digital product within a very short time. With this, we have taken another first step towards the future. Because as a trade show organiser we will also be relying on hybrid concepts in the future, which will help our customers to do more business all year round thanks to additional digital services and wide coverage,” says Barbara Leithner.

Seven more digital events in the starting blocks

PSI Digital was just the kick-off. Starting in June, every second Friday of the month there will be a Digital Friday with a different focus. The first Digital Friday will start on 11 June with the topic of design and product safety. The following Fridays will focus on Christmas, sustainability and the Sustainability Awards, Gusto & Gastro, outdoor, the global industry and textiles.

The next presence trade show will take place from 11 to 13 January 2022 in the Düsseldorf exhibition halls.