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5 components of successful exhibits at CES 2018 (and beyond)

February 16, 2018 | Insights

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the pinnacle of innovation and invention in the consumer electronics industry.

Every January, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Las Vegas and millions more watch worldwide as next-generation consumer electronics are introduced to the marketplace.

CES pledged 2018 would be the year of “Whoa,” and it more than delivered. We were there to take it all in with our CES 2018 Insider Tour, which gave a select group of Czarnowski customers and friends an up-close look at—and insider insight into—CES’s most effective and engaging environments.

CES’s promising concepts, exciting launches, dazzling tech and stunning architecture provided a glimpse into the future-both of our daily lives and of the exhibit and event marketing industry.

So, what does the future of exhibit and event marketing look like? Here are five components the most successful exhibits at CES 2018 shared that will continue to be powerful forces in the industry for years to come.

1. The “What’s that?” tease

Eye-catching sights, attention grabbing sounds, heart pounding interactions. All are good ways to get people to stop in their tracks and head into your space to find out what is going on.

At CES, BMW‘s outdoor environment incorporated all three show-stopping strategies to showcase The Ultimate Driving Machine in both the real and virtual worlds.

The sound of squealing tires and the smell of burnt rubber coming from the BMW demo track couldn’t be escaped, as brave participants whipped and drifted their way around a closed course with a professional driver. Once inside the BMW tent, guests were invited to take the wheel and put the pedal to the metal for an in-vehicle virtual reality experience that was almost as thrilling as the real thing.

USPS leveraged striking visual design and strategically located interactions to draw a crowd in. Based on the linear form of a shipping box, USPS’s large, bright red LED marquee served as a beacon and wayfinder for attendees from almost anywhere on the show floor.

When they weren’t being pulled in by the couldn’t-miss-it-if-you-tried design, passersby were intrigued by the live emcee’s call to take a turn playing the classic “Catch Your Trail” game and other fun sideline activities like the picture postcard photo booth.

2. Layers of engagement

Engagement continues to dominate the exhibit and event marketing conversation, and for good reason. When people are able to touch, see and do, they are able to get a deeper, more contextual understanding of your brand.

For Intel at CES, engaging with their audience was the main event. From an autonomous driving experience and an artificial intelligence journey to a 5G LED tunnel and a connected home pod, guests were fully immersed in the Intel world from the minute they walked into the 12,000-square-foot space.

Even during the blackout on day two, Intel continued to engage attendees. A stirring violin performance by HÄANA inspired the crowd to stick around a dark exhibit temporarily without its experiential tech.

3. Human experience over sterile environments

Continuing the idea of engagement, this trend is about creating spaces where people can touch, see and do in an environment that feels like real life.

Samsung created its own city to demonstrate how its products can be used at home, in the car and beyond. Samsung City visitors were able to walk around, explore each district and see first-hand how Samsung products from all aspects of daily life communicate and work together to make life faster, better, easier.

From live music on center stage to stations where you could plug in and rock out, the Gibson tent felt more like attending a concert or visiting a favorite music store than a stop on the CES exhibit tour.

4. Less product, more story

Making environments feel like real life requires less product focus and more storytelling.

To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Panasonic wanted to tell the story of the brand’s past, present and future to show where they’ve been and how that plays into where they are going.


They incorporated their story elements into all facets of their CES space, but it was expressed most poignantly in two presentations: a video portraying Panasonic’s history through the extraordinary life of its founder and a 3-D demonstration showing how Panasonic technologies will reimagine the way people live and work.

Bosch‘s CES story was “Simply.Connected.” To showcase the challenges of urbanization, the Bosch space focused on demonstrating how aspects of the connected city, connected mobility, connected home and connected industry play a part in making the cities of tomorrow.

5. Shareable moments

When people like interacting with your brand, they’ll share that interaction-especially when you give them something amazing.

And that’s exactly what LG did. Their winding 92-foot long OLED Canyon was made up of more than 240 flexible OLED screens displaying mesmerizing scenery transitions. The stunning visuals inspired guests to pull out their phones, snap pics and capture videos to share with their followers on social media. The only time they put their phones down was to applaud at the end.

Byton also dazzled their audience by using CES as the world premiere for their concept car. From the premiere stage and show floor stand to the Byton house and ride and drive experience, Byton offered attendees plenty of opportunities to capture and share the world’s first intuitive electric vehicle. (You can experience Byton at CES 2018 here.)

With 4,000 companies exhibiting at CES 2018, it’s not an easy feat to create an experience that stands out and is remembered after the show floor clears and attendees head home.

However, these brands have demonstrated that by leveraging elements like curiosity-provoking interactions, sensory engagements, human experience, immersive storytelling and shareable moments, it can be done–and done well.

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