At the turn of each year, while many are still recovering from the holidays and devising new resolutions to break, Las Vegas comes alive with the buzz of forklifts. Each year, 2 million square feet of exhibit space (across 11 official venues) gets transformed into the CES.
The show is recovering well, with over 70% of its pre-pandemic attendance. Of course, there are already myriad articles covering the new tech from this year’s CES. In a nutshell, we saw a lot of human-centric products, from spoons that can taste to EV powered strollers and even a lamp that can sense a human fall and get help. There were also many new examples of AI and machine learning, as well as some incredible displays in the transportation space, but technology is not what drew me back to CES after a forced two-year hiatus.
This international multi-sector show also offers unrivalled opportunities for witnessing the best in experiential brand marketing. Being event industry professionals and designers, my creative director and I eagerly covered 9 miles over 13 hours to find the best brand activations and experiences at CES 2023! Here’s what we liked:
The Canon Cabin:
Using CES to promote their new mixed reality system, MREAL, Canon partnered with M. Night Shyamalan to create an immersive experience around the director’s new thriller film, “Knock at the Cabin.” Pairs of guests were invited into a full-scale cabin in the woods. Using the MREAL device, we had to barricade the physical room using virtual objects and prevent intruders from getting inside.
For those who didn’t want to line up for the mixed reality experience, a smaller queue allowed you to try Canon’s new Kokomo software in a full VR version of the cabin narrative.
Brunswick Helm of the Future:
Have you ever piloted a boat at a trade show? After making waves at CES in 2020, Brunswick returns with a tour de force experience. Aside from wrapping a beautifully fluid exhibit around their Sea Ray 370 cruiser, the space also featured a 140-degree future helm simulator. Guests were able to operate and dock a boat in this immersive simulation and test out Brunswick’s advanced driver assistance systems.
The Turkish automaker showed up at CES with an eclectic exhibit full of various fun displays and features. One of our favorites was “the tunnel,” a simple but incredibly immersive space that featured a curved path wrapped in mirrors and high-def video displays. With a range of possible experiences —from a Turkish tour to a trip through the cosmos—we entered the tunnel and were instantly surrounded by the images and sounds of our chosen destination.
Lotte + Caliverse:
Welcome to the metaverse! The South Korean Lotte Group and its subsidiary, Caliverse, paired up to create a VR-fueled theater in the CES Central Hall. Guests sat in a tiered amphitheater and donned headsets to try out virtual retail experiences, interactive games, and even attend a K-pop concert. Lotte also launched its healthcare platform called CAZZLE in another hall.
Over the Top with Caterpillar:
High-tech industrial equipment manufacturers like John Deere and Hyundai are no strangers to CES. But our favorite experience this year came from Caterpillar and their autonomous 100-ton Cat® 777 Truck. Not only was the vehicle over 20 feet tall, but CAT was able to capitalize on the massive “dump truck” and turn it into more than just a visual attraction. Custom staircases allowed visitors to climb into the cab and also into the back tailgate of the huge vehicle. The rear was customized with a flat deck and housed multiple tablets with augmented reality experiences for various industries and vehicle types—not to mention having an awesome view!
The Best of the Rest:
There were numerous other incredible activations, product demos, and visitor experiences. It’s impossible to list them all, but some others that really stood out included taking an unreal ride in front of a robotic Nikon Z9, doing your own motion capture with Sony’s MOCOPI, watching a dancing Robosen performance, and (while it’s not technically part of the show itself) riding the Tesla-powered underground LOOP to get from hall to hall at the LVCC was an illuminating experience!
About the Author:
Adriano is a 25-year veteran of the events and experiential marketing industry and has helped create brand activations across the globe. His work is focused on sparking human engagement across a variety of mediums, from exhibits and live events to retail solutions, corporate environments, galleries, and interactive experiences.