Brian, I can't vouch for the marketing strategy but I can shed some light on this. That company was, you'll be shocked to hear, Beach Solutions. They were based in the UK and shortly after DAC in 2008 were acquired by Doulog. Doulog is an active DAC exhibitor and will be in Austin.
There was an Embedded Systems Conference a few years back where on of the booths had a genuine T-Rex in it. The story was that the CEO was a big dinosaur fan and sponsored a traveling exhibit. The T-Rex was on the road that the right time so he had it diverted to the show.
I think it was Kontron, but I'm not sure. It did get a lot more attention than would an empty beach scene.
## ...in fact there are over 10,000 new items launched in the US every year.
I remember hearing that there was some medium-sized town/city somewhere in the USA where the population scored "average" (as compared to the US population as a whole) for many criteria -- so this city was targeted for product testing for new supermarket products. The end result was that the poor folks were lucky to see the same breakfast cereal on the shelves more than a couple of times -- by the time they'd got used to something it had been replaced by something else...
Brian, do you remember the DAC where an EDA exhibitor made their booth a beach scene, complete with lawn chairs and umbrellas, and nothing else? It was so cheesy-looking that most people presumed that it was an empty booth, because there was no booth.
It does seem a bit odd on the surface, but there is a pretty large industry movement toward automating materials handling. I can see a connection there, but I think their customers would be the MEs that work with the EEs, not the actual EEs. Maybe they think that EEs will go back and tell their mechanical co-workers. Maybe they're just trying to get a feel for what's going on in the electronics design industry. Perhaps it's a recruiting thing for them - try to get some EEs looking at other industries for jobs.