The phrase “Hey Google” is this year’s CES marketing activation frontrunner.
You encounter these words on a digital video board as you head out of McCarran International Airport and into Sin City for the 51st annual CES. Several hotels across The Strip later, you see the same message on the monstrous video walls outside of the casinos.
Once you take a trip to the Las Vegas Convention Center to Google’s exterior cavernous exhibitor space, a giant gumball-like vending machine has “Hey Google” emblazoned on it as it greets comers and goers. Even the city’s monorail, which has two trains crossing in opposite directions throughout the day, is wrapped up with the ad phrase.
Historically, brands like Apple, Amazon and Google skip the dog and pony show that is CES, but the latter is making a surprise appearance this year to tell the competition that it’s serious about reshaping consumer behavior on digital assistant products.
Google’s branding push and coming out party is perhaps a warning shot to Amazon and the rest of the digital assistant pack that “1A” of the world’s advertising duopoly is taking voice seriously this year. Smart speakers were a popular gift over the holidays, as Amazon’s Echo Dot was the top-selling product across all categories on Amazon, and appear to be a big platform focus in 2018.
— Manouk Akopyan (@Manouk_Akopyan) January 8, 2018
— Las Vegas Monorail (@lvmonorail) January 7, 2018
Turner Network Embraces Robotic Art
Turner is considerably increasing its presence at CES again this year. In addition to expanding—and sponsoring—the Sports Zone with a live ELEAGUE Street Fighter esports event and bringing TNT’s entire Inside the NBA studio and team to Las Vegas for a live show, the network is also hosting an invite-only event at the Aria Wedding Chapel in C-Space, where it will be displaying “Markers” and the world debut of ArtBots, a robotic graffiti platform created by artist Scott Peterman.
The art installation sources trending topics and fan imagery from social media and is conveniently holding court at Turner’s ad sales meetings location—exhibiting to its current and potential clients how the network is thinking toward a more creative future.
Over the course of CES, ArtBots is generating robotically drawn murals that aim to mirror Turner’s ability to connect with consumers through a massive piece of fan art. Inspired by classic plotter-and-dot matrix printers, the ArtBots platform uses technology that’s already available and blows it up to scale.
Turner said the installation brings visions of consumer art and content to life, and channels the roots of CES when products were not necessarily intended for commercialization, but instead introduced for inspiration and innovation.
Turner’s robotic installation with artist Scott Peterman called “Markers” is a robotic graffiti platform. pic.twitter.com/mPrHUUPPKS
— Manouk Akopyan (@Manouk_Akopyan) January 9, 2018
First-Hand Experience With Automated Cars
Lyft has big plans to enable self-driving developers and car manufacturers to plug into its million-plus per day ride network. The ridesharing company is partnering with Aptiv at CES to demonstrate a fully automated, end-to-end ride-hailing experience.
Consumers can ride around the Las Vegas Strip area all week for more than 20 pick-up and drop-off locations. The experience is specifically set in complex driving environments amidst busy streets and pedestrians instead of the usual controlled situations of parking lots.
It’s another demonstration of the future of mobility at work and offers a glimpse for the commercial applications of scalable, automated-driving technology.
— Lyft (@lyft) January 8, 2018
Also getting in on the self-driving and autonomy action are Pizza Hut and Dominoes.
Both of the pie makers are partnering with Ford and Toyota, respectively, during CES for a self-driving pizza delivery cars.
Which begs the question: who do you tip?
Spotify Shows Personalization Capabilities
Spotify is at CES to show that it’s serious about bringing consumers of the streaming service, artists and advertisers all together under the banner of culture. At the C Space in Aria, the brand is demonstrating personalization, user experience and machine learning models through art and sciencen with curated playlists and time capsules that take users back to songs of yesteryear.
Spotify, which reportedly filed for IPO last week, is trying to build moments for marketers to tap into with sponsorships of playlists and concerts that deliver value for brands throughout different moments of the day.
— Manouk Akopyan (@Manouk_Akopyan) January 9, 2018
Intel Lights Up Las Vegas
Intel is bringing a nightly drone light show this week over the Bellagio fountains featuring over 250 Intel Shooting Star drones sparkling in the sky. The experiential marketing move, which plays to the tune of Kygo’s song “Stargazing,” marks the first time that drones have flown over the famous fountains on the Las Vegas Strip.
In a different kind of light show, Intel also set a new Guinness World Records for simultaneously flying the Most UAVs from a single computer indoors when it flew 100 of their mini-drones during Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s opening keynote.
— Intel (@intel) January 9, 2018
Foreo Fakes A Stunt To Announce New Product
Beauty brand Foreo activated an ‘Area 51’-inspired experience outside of The Sands to promote its latest beauty product UFO, a device designed to eliminate paralysis from sheet masks.
The experience began with four “paralyzed” people. Cars with caution signs arrived to put CES attendees on notice. Once outside The Sands, the motorcade came to a stop and paparazzi swarmed the vehicles as scientists and security officers stepped in. They inspected the paralyzed people around the caution tape, and three aliens arrived to announce UFO.
— FOREO (@FOREO) January 9, 2018
BMW Brings Real And Virtual Worlds Together
The screeching sounds coming out of the BMW cars drifting in the outdoor racetrack reverberated throughout the crisp air as hordes of consumers cross-crossed convention halls.
The German car manufacturer arrived at CES with a marketing program designed on showing both the real and virtual worlds of racing.
BMW debuted VR@Retail, a new tool that aims at enhancing the retail experience for consumers in an immersive environment. The automaker also hosted a virtual experience through for the PlayStation game GT Sport, where the top five daily finishers were invited to the BMW Ultimate Driver CES Showdown at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Ultimate Driver Experience CES Showdown happening this week at @BMWUSA Tent at #CES2018. Visitors will compete for best lap times in Gran Turismo VR for the chance to drive a real M series BMW at UDE Finale. #sponsored pic.twitter.com/i1zq4t4f14
— JayzTwoCents #CES2018 (@JayzTwoCents) January 9, 2018
Gibson Gets Groovy
Also outside the Convention Center in a cavernous tent was Gibson Brands, which brought a groovy vibe and sound to consumers who were looking for a reprieve from the inside noise, much like American Greetings did last year.
Over 70 custom guitars decorated the Gibson Custom Shop Guitar Art Gallery, and music performances occurred throughout the week.
— Gibson (@gibsonguitar) January 9, 2018