(HANNOVER, GERMANY) The organizing committee for CeBIT 2018 has unanimously voted to ban Amazon.com Inc for 5 years following its refusal to provide any swag at the premier technology expo. In trade shows, “swag” is the term for useless plastic items that are given away by exhibitors when people visit their stalls. The effectiveness of swag has been on the decline ever since the invention of the USB port, which allowed for all sorts of impractical branded creations.
CeBIT referred questions to its legal department, who provided a copy of the standard exhibitor agreement. Under that agreement, stallholders must commit to importing at least 2 tonnes of swag before the event starts, and there are financial penalties if any is left over. Measuring swag weight, rather than simply the number of items, ensures that airline sponsors are handsomely rewarded with excess baggage charges as delegates depart.
Amazon, arguably the most important exhibitor at CeBIT, cited environmental concerns in moving away from reusable coffee cups, USB hubs, an branded writing instruments. Anyone who asked staff for branded merchandise was directed to an Alibaba site offering 1000 knock-off Amazon-branded pens for $0.87 (plus shipping). “We sell branded merchandise in our online shop, so there’s really no point in giving it away. It devalues our brand and frankly we need the pens for our own stationery cupboard.”
Delegates, however, took a dim view of the move. One attendee who only wanted to be identified as “Pete” told The Gopher Files, “I was expecting at least a pen. Something. Anything! Preferably given to me by a charismatic young female who has an amazing repertoire of double entendres. Now there’s no swag, and a the only person manning the booth is a guy called ‘Jeff’ who claims he runs the place.”
Amazon saw attendance at its stand fall dramatically after it decided to replace the aspiring actresses and models (who usually staff the exhibit) with founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Ordinarily, Mr Bezos would command a significant audience, having delivered a graduation speech for Princeton University that has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube. However, against the backdrop of an otherwise sparse Amazon exhibit, the CEO attracted little attention seated behind a solitary desk waiting for enquiries. He often waved as people headed straight for the Nokia stall, which was launching 3d-printed replicas of its signature 3210 mobile phone into the crowd with a t-shirt cannon.
(Photo credit: Blue Sky Exhibits)