It’s the trade show season again. Cue jaded brands, buyers and press yawning. But, wait, it’s Agenda to the rescue. Agenda founder Aaron Levant has a habit of shaking things up. After all, his trade show is the only one this writer has ever seen with kids outside trying to sneak in, piling through trash bins to find used wrist bands and hanging around outside just to be seen. It’s revolutionary. But Levant has torn down the velvet ropes this time around, adding on a day to his flagship Agenda show and turning it into an open-to-the-public festival including pop up shops, meet and greets, live music acts, trendy food trucks, Agenda Emerge presentations and, as Levant says, “an overall good time.” We sat down with this unconventional lord of the convention and found out how the first Agenda festival (July 15th, 2017) will go down.
Sportswear International: Why open Agenda up to the public?
Aaron Levant: We opened Agenda to the public because it’s the natural progression of the industry. The line is continually becoming blurred between brands, retailers, media companies and consumers. With social media and the internet becoming more and more prevalent, you can’t keep the kids out anymore as everyone is a part of the conversation. Our goal is to tear the walls down around the industry and share the energy that our show has to offer with everyone as we elevate it to new levels.
SI: Where did you come up with the idea for a festival atmosphere on the public day rather than just opening up the show itself to consumers on the third day?
AL: Our end goal is to create an experience out of our platform and the idea of just opening the show sounds far too much like a sample sale. We are creating a premium product that offers top talent in music, food, athletes, content through Agenda Emerge and the brands themselves, which is the core of it. With that said, we are creating something special that is much more than just opening the show to the public.
SI: What has been the response of your Agenda vendors?
AL: So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I think that largely the retail industry has gone through its own turbulence over the last few years and the trade shows are a reflection of that market. Customers feel as if the industry and model have been rather stale. Therefore, we are making them question the long term relevance of a B2B trade show. I think everyone is excited that we are disrupting the format.
SI: How will this change the way a trade show does business?
It completely changes the value proposition that a trade show has to offer. Our brands will still receive the B2B interaction with buyers and press that they are use to getting but now we are offering alongside of that a second opportunity for our brands to interact, hear feedback and sell directly to the consumer.