Where is the beef?

Kick-off presentation for drupa preview platform approach quite disappointing

By Andreas Weber and Morten Reitoft

The new drupa preview project kicked off today, October 27th, 2020 at 10 a.m. The amazing thing: drupa in its importance as a traditional industry event and the market needs in the print sector were not the focus at all. Rather, personal views were shared that focused on the interests of Messe Düsseldorf and the VDMA as the most important sponsor of drupa. And the solution is now: drupa will be a hybrid event with the goal to build up an excitement curve”. 

Within three months, Messe Düsseldorf developed the online platform on which drupa preview is based, in order to use it for various trade fair formats. Messe Düsseldorf’s Caravan show had already a successful start. Therefore, it is now assumed that this will also work for drupa. Dr. Christian Plenge, Head of Digital Strategy and Communication, said: "We try to be something like MS Teams". The point is to find a model now and here that will firmly and sustainably establish the new form of the hybrid trade fair independently of Corona. Everything, so the conclusion, is in the experimental stage, since nobody has enough experience with hybrid fairs.

But the fact is: drupa will never take place just as a physical event. According to the unanimous opinion of the podium, trade fairs will from now on always be held as hybrid events. Digitization is taking its toll. And, once in the boat, you can no longer row back. So far so good. But that clearly means that the number of exhibitors and visitors in the physical part of drupa will fall forever to a permanently low level. Or? Digital trade fairs would have to assist, but, in the opinion of the podium, could not compensate for what was lost due to a lack of physical presence. A contradiction in terms

It is also strange when Sabine Geldermann, Project Director Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf, keeps talking about "our industry". Geldermann works in a trade show organizing company and not as a print specialist in the printing or print publishing business. 

What is even more strange is that a trailer was played at the opening in which companies such as Heidelberg and Bobst appeared, who are known to have canceled their participation in drupa for 2021. My question via chat as to whether these "renegades" were coming back virtually was not answered, although not many questions were asked at all. 

The overall tenor was: Everything will be fine. The drupa claim “Embrace the Future” is just as adhered to as the three touchpoint topics of packaging, 3D printing and textiles including industrial printing. It seems more than questionable whether the motto “Never change a winning team” also works when you have lost. 

My conclusion: In principle, the panel participants did not describe anything new. What was said were generalities and generic information that are already known. With a certain potential for conflict. For example, Geldermann said that the drupa preview platform was “Open for all and free of charge”. But: if you want to post content you have to pay for it. — Dr. Markus Heering, Managing Director of the VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association, shone with the fact that he actually couldn't or didn't want to say anything about the situation in the print industry. He only spoke about the huge challenges in mechanical engineering from the coronavirus pandemic. But that has little to do with the situation of print shops, which are the main clientele for drupa.