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Fair Experiences – Attraction for a Short Satisfaction

Two days ago I participated in the team attending to the stand of the Swiss Red Cross at the BEA-Expo, a big public fair in Berne, Switzerland. 9 hours standing in the midst of the passing crowds. For me it was the first experience of this kind, and I had volunteered to do so.

My job was to hand out leaflets and pencils for a competition with 5 questions about the Red Cross – the answers of which could be found on different posters of the stand. At the end they could get an instant price and qualify to participate in a drawing to win some prices. It was a means to get people into contact with different Red Cross activities and starting an interaction – and for the marketing a means of collecting addresses.
There were also other activities going on: At one part of the stand you could get your blood pressure measured for free, at another corner children faces were painted and they could also get a balloon. Films, puzzles, info leaflets …

Thousands of people passed by, and in the evening there were over 1000 leaflets of the competition handed in.

For me it was fascinating to observe the crowd – families with small children in buggies, teenager groups, lovers, old couples, handicapped, people from different national backgrounds and colours. The hope for a chance to win a price attracted most and kept them busy for about 5 minutes searching the answers for the questions. It mostly went on in a sequence of 4 stages:

Discovering the competition – some showed curious faces, rushing on in search of the answers, others rejected and passed on. Some felt irritated for a moment and then decided to give it a try. With a number of couples the woman started with the competition, while the man stayed behind, observing.

Then running around, searching, filling out the questions, followed by depositing the leaflets and getting one of the instant prices. Finally leaving again and passing on into the crowd, the short kick of curiosity attraction fulfilled. Only a few showed a further interest and asked questions. Some of them wanted to go deeper or asked for a way to give donations.

At so many occasions our commitment follows the same pattern. The point of attraction works as a funnel focusing the attention into a certain direction, but it is quickly spinning of to another goal, and then another, and another – an endless search for points of attraction to give a short satisfaction. In this craze you cannot find any longer lasting satisfaction, you only find it looking within.


At the stand. In the background the logo of the World Red Cross Day of 8th May, this year the 180th birthday of Henry Dunant, the founding father of the Red Cross. It is also the 140th anniversary of Swiss Red Cross.

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