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Hotspot Detected: 30 Years of MWC Setting the Bar for Event Innovation

With #MWC24 approaching, we’re reflecting on the exhibition’s past and what you can expect from MWC Barcelona.


MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress) has evolved over the past three decades to become the go-to global mobile technology event.


Enigma has been there pretty much from the get-go. In the words of our co-founder, Dominic Softly:

“For nigh on 30 years, our leading creative design and event agency has participated in the world-leading Mobile World Congress, and it is with great pleasure that we are heading back to the beautiful and dynamic city of Barcelona at the end of February for the 2024 show.” 

We spoke to Dominic to hear his reflections on MWC and how it has changed over the years…

Humble Beginnings, Briefcases and Brick Phones

MWC started life as the GSM Congress in Rome in 1990 with just a few hundred attendees, and was based around massive radio masts and handsets the size of briefcases.

“In the 1990s and early 2000s, the show was focused on the mobile telecoms industry,” Dominic shares, “but over the past 15 years more and more industry sectors have been attracted to the show, as mobile devices have become essential to more and more sectors.”

From the early years when Nokia and Motorola dominated the handset world through to the era of Apple (who, while never exhibiting, always have a large but subliminal presence there), Samsung, LG, Xia mi and other behemoths of the Android world MWC has cemented its reputation as an unmissable trend-setting event. 

Since moving from Rome to Cannes to Barcelona in 2006, MWC went from an arena for mobile device manufacturers to launch new devices such as smartphones and tablets to a massive event attracting all manner of technology providers – think software, AI innovators, wearable tech, medical devices, logistic platforms, associated industries, and hardware makers including robotics, drones and even automated agricultural and environmental systems!

What’s more, despite the global pandemic, the most recent iteration of the expo pulled in approximately 90,000 attendees and created some €500 million in revenue.

All that said, the size and value of expos like MWC, though impressive, no longer define their real importance and relevance. MWC has evolved from being a showcase of personal and infrastructure hardware to a demonstration of applications that are driving positive societal change across a huge range of sectors.

By bringing together a massively influential group of innovators and activators, Mobile World Congress delivers the promise of a safer, more productive and more rewarding connected world.  

Enigma’s Experiential Spaces at MWC Events

Dominic says that Enigma has exhibited at MWC every year since the mid-1990s.

“The most obvious change has been MWC’s ever-increasing size as a show year on year, along with the scale and quality of the exhibitors’ stands and the emergence of experiential spaces and activations.

Enigma’s designs have progressed along the leading edge of this experiential evolution. Our MWC clients over the years have included (among others), in roughly chronological order:

ARM / Symbian / Anritsu / Accenture/ Gameloft / LogicaCMG / Acision / NXP / Activ / Ingram Micro / Zura / P2i / Qualcomm and Dell Technologies.

“Being asked to pick out our favourite shows over the years is a little like asking a parent which are their favourite children,” laughs Dominic.

That said, he tells us that 2023 stands out as it was the first year since the pandemic when it felt like the show was pretty much back to full strength.  And Enigma had four substantial stands at the show.

He adds, 2021 was interesting for Enigma as we were still in the pandemic, meaning we did our first ever ‘unmanned and people-less’ booth at a trade show, which was as challenging as it was interesting.  For one client we created a Mirror Tree, which was like a piece of amazing modern art infused with cutting edge technology and was certainly the talk of the show.

Enigma Creative Solutions has quite the track record of show-stopping brand-centred creations at MWC, and you can expect to see more from us at MWC 2024. Here’s a look at some of our successes over the years:


Enigma with Arm at MWC 2023

Enigma with Dell Technologies at MWC 2023

Enigma with Qualcomm at MWC 2023

Enigma with Qualcomm at MWC 2022

Case Study: Enigma with P2i at MWC

“We’re proud to be associated with the show, and feel it is very important – and commercially essential – to have a presence there,” says Dominic.

If you’ll be attending MWC 2024, we’d love to connect with you onsite. You can learn more about us here, contact us here, or subscribe below to stay in the loop.

For over 30 years Enigma has been putting Brands in Focus. You can take a closer look at our experiential marketing principles here, contact us here, or follow the link below for stats on the effectiveness of in-person events.

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