Editor’s Letter: It’s Viva Las Vegas for Brands

Marketers and exhibitors make their annual march on CES

The Consumer Electronics Show is a starting gun and FOMO-charged crucible. Getty Images
Headshot of James Cooper

For the brand marketers among the 180,000 attendees and more than 4,400 exhibiting companies making their annual march on Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show is both a starting gun and FOMO-charged crucible.

Hard on the heels of the holiday season, it’s the unofficial start of the year and stepping off the plane at McCarran International can be a shock to the system. Once that passes midway through the serpentine taxi line, your schedule, which you’ve hopefully planned carefully to be full, but not so jammed that you’ll miss things or burn yourself out in day one, becomes a reality. Did I pick the right tours to amble behind? Should I spend more time with IoT or automotive? What do I understand, what don’t I, what do I need to learn here fastest, what’s real, what’s vaporware? And what do I bring back to HQ as marketing manna from the desert?

Usually you’ve worked through all this by the time you get to the hotel and can start seeing CES for what it really is: a playground of tech innovation, gadgetry, startups, platforms and capabilities laid out for your consideration as you chart both your tactical and strategic moves for the coming year and beyond—sensors to screen, video to voice, blockchain to bots, IoT to 5G.

For her cover story of this special CES edition of Brandweek, longtime Los Angeles-based Adweek contributor T.L. Stanley profiles the new National Geographic TV series Valley of the Boom. Set at the beginning of the digital and internet age, the series, which premieres Jan. 13, dramatizes the iconic tech brands and founders, some still with us, some not, that started it all.

One that is definitely still with us is Microsoft, and Marty Swant, Adweek technology staff writer, looks under the hood of the recently ascendant behemoth, which briefly in November, with a market cap of $812.93 billion, passed Apple as the most valuable company on the New York Stock Exchange. “The rankings shake-up was enough to make everyone wonder: How did Microsoft, the parent of Clippy and the Zune, become hip enough to unseat, if momentarily, the King of Cool?” writes Swant.

For our new CMO-to-CMO Brandweek interview franchise, Adweek senior editor Kristina Monllos tees up an insightful conversation between Danielle Lee, global head of partner solutions at Spotify, and Jen Wong, COO of Reddit.

And in his Voice piece, Ben Lamm, co-founder and chairman of Hypergiant, in which Adweek parent Beringer Capital is a minority investor, advises that brands—large and small, disrupter and incumbent—have a clearly articulated mission for the four days on and off the strip. Brands, he cautions, should not put noise and glam over value. “Brands will be trying to get attention, but I’d encourage you and even implore you to think less about viral gimmicks and more about adding value,” Lamm writes. “There are enough brands shouting slogans from the rooftops during CES. Instead, think about how you can contribute.”

So, enjoy Vegas and CES. If you can use it to ultimately be better at doing your job, then it’s well worth the price of admission—and the abrupt but necessary kick start into 2019 and beyond. The party is over, let the party begin.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 7, 2019, issue of Brandweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@jcoopernyc james.cooper@adweek.com James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.