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How do you turn heads at an 860,000-square-foot trade show? By turning to one of the world's top special event firms to turn your exhibit stand into an event in itself. That's what Volkswagen Group did for the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The result is an exhibit booth that just earned Wuppertal, Germany-based Vok Dams Gruppe a Gala Award nomination in the category Best Event Marketing Campaign.

Channeling Volkswagen's brand communication message, “Volkswagen is half about driving and half about living,” into the design directive “It's all about ambience,” Vok Dams worked for almost a year to create a two-level stand containing four different ambient zones, according to company official Stephan Schaefer.

These included the “Magellan” zone, which trumpeted the versatility of Volkswagen's new concept car through a combined video, light, sound and scent effects show that took participants through the changing seasons, Schafer says. A “Fun and Lifestyle” zone spotlighted the roominess of the auto maker's New Beetle with a custom-designed game that challenged teams of players to fit 3-D foam puzzle parts into the deceptively compact model.

Among Vok Dams' greatest challenges, Schafer says, was finding a way to present the booth's separate structural levels as a cohesive whole. Production team and client collaboration, powered by a Vok Dams project database designed for networked simultaneous planning in Germany and the United States, resulted in the enhancement of the escalator space — a physical link between the two levels — with a content link created through transposed projections of Volkswagen slogan text, including “driving,” “living” and “What a Volkswagen can do for you.”

Calling the Volkswagen booth “an emotional brand experience,” Schafer says the production was “a successful mix of product presentation and showmanship.” How does he measure that success? “The year 2002 was already the second time that Vok Dams Gruppe has been conceptualizing and realizing the Volkswagen stand in Detroit,” he says, “and we will be doing so again in 2003.”

Vok Dams Gruppe Katernbergerstrasse 54, Wuppertal 42115, Germany; +49 202 38907 109;

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