The Coronavirus Economy: What happens to all the pop-up vendors working film festivals and trade shows?
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Mobile World Congress is one of the most high-profile trade shows on the tech industry calendar each year. So when the GSMA Association, the global industry body representing mobile networks worldwide, canceled this year’s expo in Barcelona in early February, that set off the initial alarm bells for many.
One by one, major trade shows, film festivals, concerts, and more events that draw hundreds to thousands of people were canceled or—in a few cases, such as Coachella and the Summer Olympics—postponed.
But it is not just the likes of Silicon Valley executives and developers or Hollywood producers and writers who attend these events, which are propped up by multiple cottage industries of vendors and crew members.
Among them are pop-up vendors and designers, which often build out elaborate and memorable booths that will attract attendees and encourage them to share whatever the brand’s message might be, either via word of mouth, or more commonly these days, social media.
Brett Hyman, founder and president of NVE Experience Agency, explains that his company “develops distinct and data-driven experiences that are rooted in cultural context.” Among NVE’s clients are Amazon Prime, Adidas, Tinder, Sony PlayStation, and Twitter. In late February, NVE produced a booth for Lincoln town cars at the 2020 Grammys in Los Angeles, showcasing the new Lincoln Corsair in the center of a curated takeover of the Highlight Room at the Dream Hollywood hotel. NVE craned a brand-new Corsair onto the roof, and guests were greeted with 180-degree views of Los Angeles from the top of the hotel, with full vehicle displays at key touch points around the installation.
But with bans on all public gatherings of groups over 10 (and in some countries, more than two people), NVE and similar vendors have seen their business evaporate overnight.
Fortune spoke with Hyman for a new series, The Coronavirus Economy, to ask about how the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected his business and plans for the future. Check out what he has to say in the exclusive video above.
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