From show-stopping activations to AI-powered touchpoints, CES is the window into the future of experiential marketing and inspiration for the design, engagement strategy and wow factor for the rest of the year and beyond. To walk the floor, feel the pulse of the industry, witness creative courage and get pumped with new ideas. What stood out? We asked experiential design and fabrication experts.
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“People waiting in lines to see brand experiences at CES prove that there’s healthy consumer demand for engagement. Combined with the elevated ROI that experiential brings, you have a powerful formula for success if done well. Some of the most effective brands adopted a hybrid model, broadcasting content that widened their audience and doubled their impact.
Innovation in technology moves so fast, but if you’re not creating a strategic, engaging experience to share the story, you’re missing a huge opportunity, especially at a show like CES. Brands with agency partners that created simple and intuitive experiences won the crowds over, more likely seeing the ROI they were expecting.”
Outside is In
“Outside is in. The speed at which brands embraced outdoor activations at CES is breathtaking and their investments to make these high-quality experiences equally so. Stalwarts like Google and newcomers like Kubota made the most of the sunny (if chilly) weather. Brands are clearly seeing the value of being off the show floor, having the full attention of their audience and enjoying way above-average dwell times. This tracks with our clients’ experience across trade shows and other experiential spaces like the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix race, where brands similarly embraced standalone environments. This is a trend to watch at CES and in experiential in general.”
Back in Business, but not Business as Usual
“The show felt nearly back to its former self. Lots of optimism that was clearly felt through the stand designs, experiences, and conversations had. Many of the big brands felt more playful than in years past, which I believe is due to pent-up demand to do something splashy (with lots of color!) or meaningful that fulfills the idea of the greater good, such as Panasonic’s sustainability features and stand design, that says, ‘Hey, we all made it but it’s not going to be business as usual.’ Archways and tunnels seemed to be a common theme, which you could unpack in a variety of ways. Above all, the prolific addition of the queue line (am I at Disneyland? Gamescon?) and people willing to stand in them to see what’s inside was fascinating.”
“CES 2024 provided so many brands with the perfect stage. Stories were being told at every corner of the show from Essilor Luxottica turning eyewear into hearing aides (!) to Samsung setting themselves as a lifestyle brand having built an immersive eGames experience on one end to Martha Stewart putting on a full-blown culinary show the other end.
Brands have found creative, memorable methods on how to use the floor space more so now than ever before, which has been incredible to witness in this post-pandemic era. Brand awareness is captured in memory, and what better way to remember a brand than to remember the experience? I mean, where else can you come across the Mercedes-Benz of the future and then stumble into a fully autonomous John Deere tractor in Austin, TX, being operated by show attendees right from the show floor!”
The Comfort Zone
“A big round of applause to SK. Compared to 2023, the brand’s appearance has been completely reinvented. The stand was bold in its design. The Vegas context was interpreted congenially. The experience factor was really very high. It was quite difficult not to get in a good mood and to want to try the SK products.
At the same time, my overall feedback on CES 2024 is somewhat mixed. All in all, we saw a lot of good and solid presentations, but in terms of design and experience they tended to stay in the comfort zone. This year, we had a bit of a feeling that things had reverted to the pre-COVID era. In the end, it’s the courage to try something new that creates innovation and has impact. ‘Stretch brands into new spaces. Create experiences beyond events.’ are the guiding principles of tomorrow.”
“I remember saying last year that HD Hyundai would do a CES sprawl, and they did. They are only going to get bigger. Their shipping and excavation demos were astounding and then there was the flying car. SK was a radical departure from last year but it was a fun way to exhibit the future in that it reflected the new tech in the context of actual changes in Las Vegas. I thought the Sony booth was better than last year as was the Amazon Alexa. Another standout was Sumsei (air dryer) and Kohler. As far as AI tech goes Rabbit R1 and MultiOn are groundbreaking.
I am a huge fan of Togg so even though their booth was similar to last year it was still amazing. And having a waterway in a booth is rad. The LG and Samsung booths are always amazing and I loved the LG camper. The LG robot coffee maker was adorable. And the robotic message arm was crazy but cool. The Sumsei engagement was killer for a small booth. Ceragem was also a spa-like experience but they also have Ybrain for mental check-ins. I was blown away by the possibilities they have explored. Last year was “fantasy”. This year we saw the future reality, so that is awesome.
As was the case with the internet and digital “everything that can be AI-enabled will be AI-enabled. And as I suspected, the much-hyped metaverse will have a longer lead time for its ultimate destiny—for now, it’s a platform and a fancy way to sell products. But I believe in the next decade there will be big advances.”