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Freshly returned from OutDoor by ISPO in Munich, Brandwave Founder, Daniel Macaulay recaps on what was a highly controversial, but ultimately surprisingly good trade fair…

‘OutDoor by ISPO’ – the hybrid / de facto summer season trade fair to ISPO, Munich, which is billed as the world’s largest multi-sport trade show and is traditionally, the highlight of the global sports industry’s calendar, along with Outdoor Retailer in the States.

I’ve been going every year for 22 years now and have witnessed all the various manifestations, including the epic Alpine Friedrichshafen days and the post-covid festival vibes MOC incarnations.

For me, this show was the most controversial iteration by far, with some of the industry’s largest brands pulling out in the preceding months and many more abstaining altogether.

The show occupied only 3 of the 18 Messe Munich Halls and from an attendee perspective, was vastly reduced in terms of both scale and scope. In addition to this, there was the new more pricy ticketing policy for the hold-out brands with a very strict policing and pre-show verification process.

As I began my red-eye journey at a sprightly 3am on the Monday morning, I really did wonder what I was in for this time round. During the show, my phone was constantly a-buzz with messages from friends, colleagues, and clients all asking ‘what’s it like?’ and ‘is anybody there?’. My answer to them was much the same as it is now… ‘all in all, it’s pretty good!’

Me and my ol’ chumster Richard Richy Thomas enjoying an ice cream and a natter in the sunshine.

I think context is so so important here. With a few notable exceptions, it’s no secret that the industry as a whole is suffering… and not just a little bit. If you need a reference point for this, just look at the share price of most of the largest groups. For most, the game right now is not about thriving, it’s about cost cutting, surviving, and living to fight another, more profitable day.

While many brands and attendees consciously steered clear of the show, many also didn’t. Stands were generally scaled down, but a lot of the industry’s most iconic brands were still there – loud and proud. What’s more, I felt they were all accompanied by a strange sense of comradely and defiance reminiscent of a battle hardened ragtag group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse movie. Still bravely fighting the good fight in the face of apparently overwhelming adversity.

From the moment I arrived on Monday morning, to the moment I left late on Wednesday evening, the show was busy and buzzing. I couldn’t walk for more than a few minutes without bumping into an old industry friend, colleague, or friend and having to do a hasty catch-up.

This is what trade shows are all about for me and I am personally grateful to the European Outdoor Group (EOG), ISPO, all the exhibitors and attendees that made it happen. Here’s hoping that it’s onwards and upwards for next year…

Daniel Macaulay