Alfa Laval celebrated 100 years in the marine industry by partnering with Hilanders to reimagine their participation in SMM 2016. The icing on the cake was the feedback that this was the company’s “best exhibition ever”.

Making a splash at the world’s biggest shipping and marine show is quite a task. But that’s the challenge Alfa Laval’s Anja Simonsson posed to Hilanders in the run up to SMM 2016, with the clever and provocative brief: How do we steal the show?

With 2,200 exhibitors sprawling across 93,000 m2, SMM is a daunting event. In the rising tide of handouts, presentations, and product videos, it’s all too easy to forget the experience of any single exhibitor. To really stand out, says Johan Maack Account Director at Hilanders, “the critical question is what do you want the visitor to feel?”

“When visitors experience your presence,” he says, “they’ll remember it.”

Instead of adding to the information overload, Alfa Laval and Hilanders conceived not of a booth, but an experience centre. Drawing on the company’s rich history they blended old and new, elevating a century of heritage into an immersive, physical, modern brand experience. A barber shop and bar conjured the spirit of shipping’s glamour days, a towering stack of regulations physically captured the weight of responsibility on today’s operators, and classic artwork presented cutting edge technologies with old-fashioned elegance.

And it worked. Alfa Laval’s stand got top marks from visitors – 89% were fully or very satisfied with their visit. It just goes to show what’s possible when a daring and creatively open client like Alfa Laval is willing to throw down a challenge to an agency like Hilanders – and when both are willing to work together to bring a concept to life.