The Design of the Times celebrates the most inspiring and creative in-store displays and digital activations and recognizes their key role in any successful shopper marketing initiative.

For more than 20 years, the Design of the Times competition has honored hundreds of leading brand manufacturers, retailers, agencies, P-O-P and packaging design firms and path-to-purchase companies for their outstanding in-store solutions.

It’s the captivating work submitted each year that transforms the Design of the Times Gallery at the Path to Purchase Expo into an inspiring array of the best activations, displays and campaigns of the year.

Who Should Enter

Anyone involved with marketing or merchandising products in-store or online.

  • Consumer product manufacturers
  • P-O-P design firms
  • Package design firms
  • Advertising, marketing and sales promotion agencies
  • Path-to-purchase companies including: digital, mobile, coupons, events, sampling and other media
  • Retailers

Why You Should Enter

Because you've earned a moment in the spotlight! Get the recognition you deserve for your best work.

  • All finalists may display their work and gain exposure in front of thousands of brand marketers, agency creatives and retail executives in the Design of the Times Gallery at the Path to Purchase Expo, Sept. 26-28 in Chicago.
  • All entries get a chance to impress the judges – more than 60 senior-level shopper marketing executives from major CPG companies.
  • Get the chance to be featured in the digital edition of the Design of the Times winners book.
  • Earn bragging rights as an "award-winning" design firm, agency or P-O-P supplier. Clients will like that!
  • See how your work compares to the work of your peers.

What You Should Enter

Submit your most outstanding activation, display or campaign. The most common entries are:

  • Counter units (permanent or temporary)
  • Endcaps
  • Freestanding displays
  • In-line/gondola displays
  • Digital banner ads
  • Mobile solutions
  • Digital signage
  • Interactive displays
  • Retailer site brand pages & emails
  • And more!

How to Enter

  1. Create your account (If you submitted an entry in 2016 you may use your same login and password information). 
  2. Click on "Create New Entry" for each item you want to add. You should be prepared to answer all questions, including essays, before you start to create your entries.
  3. In-store Activations: When prompted, upload your photos. Maximum of three (3) photos per entry; High-resolution JPG files (minimum 800 x 600 pixels, maximum file size of 10 megabytes). Photos must show the entry as it appeared in the field and as it will be set up in the Design of the Times Gallery. No CAD drawings, photo manipulations, renderings or illustrations can be used in place of a photo. Photos will be viewed on a large monitor by judges during the first round of judging; high-quality images are required to enable the judges to get the best look at your entry.
  4. Digital Activations: Submit a PDF file containing screen grab images of the relevant digital content as it originally appeared. Maximum file size is 100MB. 
  5. You may go back and edit entries by viewing the My Entries page. 
  6. Download, print and complete your Order Summary. Send your Order Summary and complete payment to Peggy Milbrandt at 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631, or email scanned documents to [email protected]. One payment for multiple entries is acceptable. Payment must be received by the entry deadline of June 2, 2017. Payments received after 5pm central time on June 2 until June 9, 2017, will be assessed a late fee.


A total of five (5) distinctions will be awarded – Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Best of the Times (each a “Prize”). In addition, the platinum award for the supermarket category will be named "Progressive Grocer Display of the Year"; the platinum for convenience stores will be named "Convenience Store News Display of the Year"; and the top scoring digital/mobile activation will be named "Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) Activation of the Year".

Each prize is an industry accolade; there is no retail value for any prize. Exact details of each prize will be determined by the sole discretion of the Institute. Any additional expense incurred by a winner in accepting a prize will NOT be reimbursed by the Institute.

Winning Criteria

Leading consumer product marketers and retail executives will judge each entry on how well it achieved its objective and how well it executed the 4C's of Effective In-Store Activation criteria:

  • Command attention
  • Connect with the shopper
  • Convey information
  • Close the sale

How Judging Works

Judges are divided into teams so that small groups review each entry. Judges do not review work from their category. The judges review entries in two phases:

  1. Round 1 – During the first phase of judging, entries in like retail channels using the same activation tactics are judged using the established contest criteria to determine finalists. Finalists are notified in late July. Finalists (Bronze, Silver and Gold winners) are required to ship their display to the Design of the Times Gallery at the Path to Purchase Expo. Other outstanding examples of the best in-store activation tactics and solutions may also be invited to be showcased in the Gallery.
  2. Round 2 – During the second phase of judging, judges get a chance to view the actual entry in the Design of the Times Gallery. Entries are judged by retail channel to determine the best of each channel. The Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Best of the Times winners will be announced during the Awards Ceremony at the Path to Purchase Expo on September 27, 2017. Tickets will be available in June at

Fee Information

Normal entry fees: $499.00 per entry for members of the Path to Purchase Institute or Path to Purchase Expo Exhibitors; $549.00 per entry for all other entrants.

Payments received after 5:00pm CDT on June 2 until 5:00pm CDT June 9, 2017, will be considered a late entry and assessed a late fee of $100 per entry.

Entries requiring 110-volt electricity: add an additional $95 per entry.

Fees are non-refundable, including those for disqualified or withdrawn entries. Entries received after the contest deadline are not returned and fees will not be refunded.

All fees are non-refundable, including those for disqualified or withdrawn entries. Entries received after the contest deadline will not be returned and fees will not be refunded. Entrants are responsible for all arrangements and expenses arising out of their submission, including shipping costs, set-up fees and labor.

Awards & Displays at the Path to Purchase Expo

Finalist entries on display in the Design of the Times Gallery on the show floor of the Path to Purchase Expo will vie for the coveted “Best of the Times” award. All Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and "Best of the Times" winners will be announced live from the stage during the Design of the Times Awards Ceremony as part of the festivities at the Path to Purchase Expo. 

Design of the Times Gallery Hours

The Gallery is FREE to registered attendees of the Path to Purchase Expo in Rosemont,

  • Wednesday, September 27, 2017 · 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 · 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

Design of the Times Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 · 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont IL as part of the Path to Purchase Expo. Tickets available beginning June 1, 2017 and may be purchased at