When perusing media photos from CES 2010, I should have taken note of the overall dress and atmosphere portrayed in the pictures. CES isn’t a laid back, casual event. This is a professional event filled with atttendees going from exhibitor to exhibitor in search of the latest, most innovative electronic technology.
The majority of the attendees consisted of men (most in suits), exhibitors were women with very high heels, and there were media production groups here and there filming or doing live podcasts. Then, there was me.
On travel press trips, I enjoy dressing up for dinner. But during the day, I prefer comfort. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sweatpants in public kind of mama or into dressing like I’m homeless, but I do prefer comfortable shoes, especially if I’m walking around all day. I’ve never been one for the self-imposed torture of wearing high heels all day that will eventually mold my feet into hobbit looking appendages when I’m 60.
I didn’t attend CES to impress people. I went because the opportunity was presented that would allow me to get a glimpse into this legendary world of tech companies. It would also give me the chance to seek out the next great thing in travel technology.
I like to watch people, and one thing I observed is that exhibitors won’t waste their time with you if they think you can’t do anything for them. That’s probably a life observation of the general population also, but it was extremely evident at CES. Exhibitors would smile and say hi to me when I would approach them, but then they would look at my badge (which was designated as a blogger badge) and immediately make an excuse on why they were too busy to chat about their product.
Who is Doing it Right?
On the flip side, while the larger electronics brands were too busy, there were some very nice people who see the value in social media and took the time to chat with me about their products and company philosophies. Here are some of the companies who are doing it right and are new media friendly:
Nokia – This is a given, seeing as they sponsored my entire CES experience. They brought four bloggers to experience CES from a consumer standpoint and didn’t even have an exhibitor booth at CES this year. If that’s not believing in the value of social media, then I don’t know what it. Plus, everyone I met from the company seemed genuine and were just good people.
Kenmore – I really dislike doing laundry and will admit that the only reason why I stopped by the Kenmore area was because I was aiming to catch up with C.C. Chapman. I ended up checking out some of their washers and dryers on display and developed a case of serious appliance envy. I currently have to turn on my own dryer with a set of pliers.
American Express – Having Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki present at the American Express Open Forum booth was genius. Not everyone knows who these guys are, but those of us in new media made sure we stopped by this area to listen to their presentations. Getting new media to your booth is half the battle.
Kodak – I’m already a fan of Kodak products since Leigh Caldwell turned me on to the Kodak zi8 video camera. As I was wandering around aimlessly, I notice the Kodak are and stopped in to see what they were showing at CES. They had a pretty sweet setup and even had a check-in area for media, with no distinction between traditional and new media. I ended up chatting with Stephen, with the PR company who represents Kodak and he showed me the soon to be released Kodak PlaySport (2nd Gen). Kodak was also at BlogWorldExpo this year, so I already knew they were new media friendly. It was nice to see this in action.
Golla – The Golla media rep was friendly and helpful, even giving me a press kit which was actually one of their phone wallets. It was fun to learn that the phone wallet was developed with the Nokia N8 in mind. I liked their colorful bags and cases for all mobile gadgets.
Panasonic – This company was a little tough to break the ice, but once I found someone who was willing to answer my questions, things went smooth. Panasonic is on my shortlist of new media friendly big brands.
Dolby – I didn’t have any life-changing moments inside the Dolby area, but they did offer a respite to sit and watch Tron as streamed from a Nokia N8 to demonstrate the high quality video and surround sound capabilities of the phone.
Speck – I first encountered Speck at Pepcom. They were very friendly and enthusiastic, offering samples to everyone who passed by at Pepcom. They also did a smart thing by serving beer at their booth. Very smart. The line snaked through the booth of products. They are very new media friendly and offer some cool cases for Apple products.
Cellairis – At first, it was a little hard to break the ice with these guys, but once they found out I was tweeting a photo of their blinged out phone cases, they warmed up. I do like sparkly things, so all the glitter coming from their booth drew me in initially.
DXG – I was just walking away from the worst booth experience ever, after being totally ignored inside a booth that had no one browsing around. These two hoochie mamas were more worried about putting drops in their eyes than marketing products. The thing is, their booth had products I was really interested in covering. Targus, if you are reading this, I would get some new reps. Anyways, DXG was next door and was showcasing handheld 3D video cameras. I was able to check them out and hope they are available to consumers before the Carnival Magic cruise to Europe. Thank you, DXG for acknowlegding my existence.
M-Edge – This was probably one of my favorite stops at CES. Adam, VP of Product Development took the time to sit down with me and show me their e-Reader cases. They even have one just for travelers with pockets for your passport, charger, and other accessories. My favorite case they offer is the custom case that looks like a book cover. You can choose from predesigned out of print books or make your own.
Hyundai – Barry from Hyundai took the time to give me a brief on-camera interview about Blue Link Drive Alerts, even though his booth was extrememly packed. Thank you, Barry, for your time. I truly appreciate it.
Nissan – Nissan not only values new media at CES, but they also let us take the Nissan LEAF for a test drive and they invited us to their after-hours gathering at The Palms.
There are a good number of companies who embrace new media and see the value. The companies listed above are the ones that stand out from my CES 2011 experience. CES is massive and for this newbie I had no idea what to expect. I even got lost a few times and wandered aimlessly. Next year, I’ll wear extremely high heels and walk around with my own film crew. Does Converse make heels?
Have you attended CES? Do you agree or disagree with my observations? Do you have tips for anyone attending CES for the first time?
All photos were taken with the Nokia N8 as part of my CES Perspective, thanks to Nokia.