15 Wacky Trade Show Booth Gimmicks

Reinvigorate your exhibitor marketing tactics, and see how marketers both within our industry, and outside of it, are upping their game.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trade shows are teeming with potential customers. But to get the conversation started with these prospects, you first have to grab their attention. With potentially hundreds of companies clamoring to be noticed all at once, drawing booth traffic isn’t for the faint of heart. And because scientists tend to be skeptical about new products and services, it’s crucial that a company has a meaningful engagement with them without shying away from their overall messaging.

While it’s important to stay on brand, you’ve also got to appeal to the masses with games and giveaways that will make them smile — and sometimes even stand in line. Here are some of the wackiest gimmicks we’ve seen in our science trade show days.

  1. Make-your-own-sundae bar
    What’s that saying again? The way to a customers’ heart is through his stomach?

  2. Miniature golf
    Relive your glory days — or create some new ones.happygilmoregif
  3. Virtually test-drive a racecar
    The fastest time gets bragging rights until next year.giphy-1 
  4. A Photo Booth
    It’s all about the props, really.picsblog 
  5. A pippette-tip gown from Project Runway
    You can’t wear it, but you can take your picture with it!biotix 
  6. DNA Chopper
    The only ride fit for a molecular hero.chopper 
  7. Massage Chairs
    Please don’t ask them to think on their feet.massage chairs
  8. Fire
    If only we had some marshmallows.fire
  9. Photo-Worthy Quasi-Celebrities
    Forget the A list, the B list, and the C list. But the rest of the alphabet is all yours.giphy
  10. Caricatures
    A company-wide email is a must.caricature
  11. The Price is Right Wheel
    Who can say no to a quick spin?Priceisright 
  12. Petting Zoo
    Microscopes, thermal cyclers, and…cute animals?armadillo 3
  13. Whack-a-mole
    A great stress reliever.whac-a-mole-o 
  14. Remote controlled cockroach
    What would Neuroscience be without a little mind control?cockroach
  15. Molecular gastronomy
    After hours wandering the show floor, a dry ice cocktail is just what the Ph.D. ordered.molecular gastro


Experimenting with new approaches to booth traffic can pay off big at trade shows, but always look for a creative way to build the new “gimmick” into your overall brand, theme for the show and communications. The end result will be a booth that attendees will not only talk about with their colleagues at the show, but will help them recall the products and services that your company offers long after the show is done.


We want to know

What are the funniest or weirdest trade show gimmicks you’ve seen?

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