GuyFest: Motorcycles, brewers, home theaters ... New event targets CEOs to steelworkers

August 22, 2005

It's not a new medical procedure, but a three-day event Compton calls "a magical place-home to both the steelworker and the CEO."

Testostorama Men's Expo, planned for Nov. 11-13 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, is being hyped to men of all ages and backgrounds "as payback for all those years she dragged you to the Flower and Patio show."

"We cooked up this event and put a little edge to it," Compton said.

Testostorama organizers expect more than 200 exhibitors-from beer brewers and home theater manufacturers to motorcycle and auto sales companies. The event brochure also promises lots of food and entertainment, including-predictably-some buxom beauties.

"The original concept was an upper-scale event, but as time went on, we said, 'We're here in the Midwest with a lot of regular guys,'" said Compton, who left the Colts after last season to form Compton Strategies. "We want to make sure there's something for all guys."

And women, too.

"This was strategically placed at the beginning of the holiday season, and I think a lot of women will want to attend to look for gifts and just for the curiosity factor," said Chris Wheat, Indianapolis market manager for San Antonio, Texasbased Clear Channel Radio.

The event has piqued the curiosity of Ellen Rabinowitch, president of Indianapolis event-planning firm Maribeth Smith & Associates.

"We have two or three successful women's expos here," Rabinowitch said. "So if the men think it's time to do a similar event geared toward their tastes and interests, more power to them."

Rabinowitch only has one worry.

"You'd hope it would be within tasteful limits," she said. "I greatly admire the creativity of Ray Compton and what he brings to the table. I'd be interested in checking it out, and not because I want to police it."

Event organizers expect more than 10,000 people to attend the three-day event, and while that's about half of a three-day total for a more established expo like the Boat Sport & Travel Show, convention experts think it has strong potential.

"I find this incredibly unique and compelling, and I think it fits very nicely into the city's calendar," said Bob Schultz, of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. "You walk around, drink a beer and buy some tools. From a guy's perspective, what could be better? I think this is an event that could grow exponentially."

Event organizers think the expo will be so successful they are contemplating replicating it in places like Fort Wayne, Cincinnati and Louisville.

"You could package this and take it to other markets," Compton said.

And while promotions for the event have a humorous edge, planning for the event is being taken very seriously, said Compton and Wheat.

"It won't be a free-for-all," Compton said. "It will be very carefully planned, organized and executed."

Part of the plan is to make it easy to navigate the two expo halls the event will occupy. There will be sections labeled Sports; Big Toys for Big Boys; Personally Speaking; Handyman; Eat, Drink and Be Merry; and Don't Forget About Her. There will also be four special lounge areas with big-screen televisions and food and drink offerings that would make Fred Flintstone salivate.

While Clear Channel Radio has promoted and organized music-related events, this is a departure from its usual business plan.

"We were looking for non-traditional revenue ideas," said Wheat, "and this fit right in with the demographics of our stations."

This follows a trend of media companies looking at ways of boosting non-traditional revenue, said Tom Taylor, editor of industry publication Inside Radio. "It's part of a new vision," he added.

Clear Channel's WNDE-AM 1260, a sports talk radio station, and its rock stations WFBQ-FM 94.7 and WRZX-FM 103.3 appeal to a largely male audience.

"We weren't going to put on a bridal show," Wheat said. "The event had to be for men. That's who we talk to."

Wheat said the three stations will throw all their promotional muscle behind the event. A major marketing push is set for early October. Compton said TV and print ads also will be in the mix.

Foundry, a new advertising agency headed by longtime local advertising executives, was brought in to lead event branding.

"This event will have a different look and feel from any other show or expo people have seen in Indianapolis, and we want to communicate that to the market," said Mark LeClerc, Foundry principal. "We wanted to stress the edge in the attitude of this event, and our marketing material reflects that."

Foundry is composed of three partners: LeClerc and Matt Ganser, both former creative directors at Publics Group, and Jeff Morris, former Young & Larimore creative director, all of whom will work on the Testostorama campaign.

Clear Channel's sales staff has been working with Compton to sell sponsorships and booth space for the event. A 10-foot-by-10-foot booth costs $1,000. Bigger booths are available.

Wheat said his radio cluster could have worked with sister company Clear Channel Entertainment to put on Testostorama, but he thinks Compton, who will handle most of the execution, will bring more local credibility and clout to the event.

So far, Wheat said, sales have outpaced expectations.

"I'm not totally surprised by the event's early popularity," he said. "I think it's a really ready market."

Already, companies like Tom Wood Auto Group, The Bike Line, Motorcycles of Indianapolis, Extreme Outfitters, Cue & Billiard Showcase Inc. and Karma Records have reserved space.

Wheat said deals for a title sponsor and a sponsor to offer discounted tickets are in the works. General admission is $8.

Compton has already heard some joking about the event, but he is convinced that, when the snickering subsides, the expo will be a staple on the city's tourism and convention calendar.

"I think this event will be the talk of the town," he said. "I have no doubt we're going to draw big crowds and that this will be an annual and growing event."
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