Event Says

Inside Mobile World Congress

Agency Jack Morton invited Event to shadow its team at Ericsson’s Change-Makers experience – the largest brand space at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress (MWC). Reporter Katie Deighton shares her very first MWC experience.

I arrived at the north entrance of venue Fira Gran Via after an over-inflated cab ride from the airport. This was my first mistake. Charlotte and Lewis, my Jack Morton contacts, were waiting for me on the other side of the site, which I soon realised was very far away. Gran Via has eight halls, a surface area of 240,000sqm and space for two helipads.

The venue has even installed moving walkways, à la airports, in an attempt to prevent delegates suffering from blisters on their way to a keynote. On my 20-minute journey to the Ericsson experience, I noticed the high-powered visitors at MWC used these as networking areas, often swapping business cards and talking business as they were robotically carried to their next destination.

Stepping into MWC is like walking into a foreign city, with its own laws, streets, suburbs and technology like you wouldn’t believe. Like many stands at MWC, Ericsson had an invite-only policy, allowing access only to current and potential stakeholders in the Swedish tech brand.

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Once my badge had been scanned, I entered what felt like a separate conference in itself. Two pop-up restaurants were serving up plates of American and Asian cuisine (chosen to represent Ericsson’s core markets), while almost 4,000 guests swarmed the space to trial the latest tech in four sections: grow, drive, perform and explore.

Quirky objects were used to demonstrate the theme of each stand: rugby balls, Russian dolls and jelly beans could all be found in the 6,000sqm space. A bleacher-style area acted as a seating area for delegates to sit down and catch up on emails and a stage for keynote speeches. The 30 meeting rooms were all themed around a separate case study of an Ericsson ‘change-maker’, while a VIP balcony area provided a quieter space for top guests to meet and survey the scene from above.

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After I had grabbed some interviews and a bite to eat, Charlotte took me on a quick tour of Hall Three, where big names such as Microsoft, HTC and Samsung had set up shop. If I considered the Ericsson space to be hectic before, I was secretly begging my guide to take me back to that calm oasis. Hall Three was like a club night for tech geeks – all bright colours, flashing lights, DJ sets and even robots.

We then made our way to the Ooredoo stand, which was really designed to be a calm oasis. Here, guests could grab a cold drink or a coffee, network around a digital pond installation or meet in a colourful room upstairs.

I caught a ten-minute snippet of the day’s keynote speech from Ericsson’s chief executive Hans Vestberg before beginning the 20-minute walk back to the north entrance and joining the half-hour queue for a taxi. My six hours spent at MWC are now a crazy blur of computer screens, suited delegates and unexpected 20-degree heat but taught me one thing: this really is an event like no other.