I knew CES would be extremely different than the many times I attended in the past. Leading up to the world’s largest technology show, companies and reporters shifted to virtual attendance in droves due to concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant. Flying out to Las Vegas on a full flight, I was not quite sure what to expect.
The reality is despite all the differences compared to past years, my team was focused on the same goal – getting the most coverage we could for our clients. We made sure media attending virtually had all the content required to write stories or produce videos. And for those onsite, we were able to spend more time with them and develop relationships with reporters whom we didn’t know as well. From a coverage results perspective, it was one of the best years for our clients.
One thing about CES is a given – it’s a showcase for the most well-known and admired tech brands, along with products from companies we never heard of. Last month, Allison+Partners published a global study that explored the tug of war tech companies have between brand and product – and how tech PR pros are consistently pulled in two directions. CES served as the perfect opportunity to see this struggle play out in real life.
So, I kept a product vs. brand score card during my CES journey this year.
Pre-CES: With companies withdrawing from CES due to health and safety concerns, the companies that received the most attention/coverage in stories and social media were established brands. While many other companies decided to go virtual, the focus was on the brands people knew – not the product or product lines they introduced. Point: Brand
CES Show Floor: On CES’ first day, I usually see a swarm of attendees in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center when the doors open at 10 a.m. With the lighter crowd this year, there was no swarm to be seen – and many well-known companies abandoned their booth presences. That said, most people could be found at booths that focused on their brand story – including John Deere’s purpose of “feeding the world,” Samsung’s “together for tomorrow” platform, SK’s “2030 Net Zero Pledge” and even The United States Postal Service’s goals for “delivering for America.” Point: Brand
The “IT” Factor: Every year, there are products that dazzle, amaze, and somehow capture the hearts and minds of conference attendees. This year was no exception! From a finger-nibbling cat to a car that changes colors before your eyes to health and wellness products (including a slew of “smart mattresses”), individual products proved they could be the heroes of the show. Point: Product
The Coverage: When it comes to the CES media coverage, the power of the brand and what it stands for helped drive interest. But the products are what really grabbed headlines – especially that finger nibbling cat! Point: Product
Scorecard: Brand 2; Product 2… Looks like the tug of war will continue well into 2022! To download Allison+Partners’ “Technology PR’s Tug of War: The Battle of Brand vs. Product,” click here.
Jeff is an Executive Vice President in the technology practice at Allison+Partners. He has more than 20 years of experience across public relations and marketing. He currently serves at the chief of staff for the work the agency does with Samsung, including leading the agency team at CES for the past seven years. Prior to joining Allison+Partners, his experience includes working in-house at Disney and Sharp Electronics.Category: Technology