Five years ago, in my first column for Ad Age, I wrote about “Five Key Things to Know about CES.” Five dozen columns and five Consumer Electronics Shows later, how much has changed?
In the opening paragraph of the 2012 byline, I wrote, “There are two things that don’t matter at CES: the consumer electronics, and the show.” In hindsight, it’s one of those lines that seems perfect for Twitter, but was disingenuous then and remains so today. There are too many facets of the show to dismiss it outright, so to the organizers of CES, I belatedly apologize.
“Keynotes are self-promotional performances with little to no impact.” This advice gets an A or an F, depending on which kinds of keynotes are referenced. On one hand, there were train wrecks like the Qualcomm 2013 address, which scarred enough attendees that Googling “Big Bird keynote” brings up a slew of references to a keynote that The Verge called “cringeworthy” and “insane.” But when there are keynotes specifically about marketing, such as MediaLink’s annual C Space conversations, they’re often candid, insightful, and inspiring. The best of those sessions make the whole CES trip feel worthwhile.