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National Cattlemen’s Beef Association


From lanterns to giant sand castles, there’s nothing ordinary about the way NCBA incorporates sponsorships into its annual Trade Show.


N


othing feels out of context at the oldest and largest convention for the cattle business. Every breakout session, every decora- tion, every booth at the Cattle Industry Convention & National


Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show is perfectly tailored to the event’s destination. Attendees donned pirate hats and eye patches at the Gasparilla Pirate–themed receptions at this year’s show in Tampa Bay, and enjoyed fresh biscuits and bluegrass music the year before in Nashville. The immersive environment that NCBA creates not only engages


attendees, but also makes it easy to incorporate sponsorship in unusual and eye-catching ways. Sponsors have utilized everything from personal shuttles to light fixtures to sand sculptures of Dolly Parton. “Our goal with those sponsorships is to not only generate revenue for the associa- tion,” said Kristin Torres, NCBA’s executive director of meetings and events, “but to overall enhance the attendees’ experience.” A few years ago, when NCBA was evaluating its show, which draws


about 6,200 cattle producers, the organization learned that attendees thought it was “all business and no fun.” NCBA set out to change that. At the 2013 show, held at the Tampa Bay Convention Center from Feb. 6–8, large stickers in the shape of cow hooves led attendees from booth to booth in the exhibit hall. Live music filled the convention cen- ter as artists stood ankle-deep in sand, sculpting away at a Bayer Animal Health–sponsored sand castle. The year before in Nashville, the sand artists built busts of iconic country music singers. That sense of fun carries throughout NCBA’s sponsorship programs.


In lieu of banner ads and other typical sponsor collateral, NCBA incor- porated signage into the foliage in Tampa Bay, scattering signs among the palm trees in the hotels, and in and around the convention center. Sponsored personal electric carts from Mulligan Shuttle zipped attend- ees around the city, while sponsored yacht parties were held throughout the three-day event. Similarly, animal-health company Merial has sponsored a “watering


hole” for the past three years — a lounge on the show floor where attend- ees can escape for drinks and live music. “It’s a win for the sponsor,” Torres said, “because they ultimately get their name associated with that experience.” Merial then passes out free drink coupons at its booth to select attendees. Of course, people don’t just come to NCBA to drink. They come to eat, too. At some booths, they can sample freshly cut beef — straight from farm to fork.


58 PCMA CONVENE JULY 2013 PCMA.ORG


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