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The annual International Consumer Electronics Show—better known
as CES—kicked off in Las Vegas this month in a dizzying spectacle
spanning more than 25 million square feet of trade show space.
But CES is as much about the consumer trends that drive change
as it is about a showcase of the latest product technology. It’s also
a chance to explore the new ways we can drive business growth for
our clients in the years to come. We saw technology transcend both
industry and marketplace to drive innovations that affect our lives in
new and profound ways.
Y&R’s team on the ground share their takeaways and insights from
of Innovation, Y&R
1. Virtual Reality (VR)
It’s the old chicken and egg problem – until VR scales to many
consumers, high-value VR content is in short supply. But until
content comes, people are reluctant to buy. Although VR may be
the next frontier for both game makers and movie studios, it’s still in its
infancy and we are eager to see them step up on content. VR community
chat technology was also impressive, allowing you to voice call and talk with
others in virtual settings, bringing a new
personal touch to the space.
This year’s CES 2017 was marked less by the emergence of
new technology, and more by the shift towards mass applicability of
existing technologies. We revisited a few familiar trends – and the surprising
insights within each.
2. AI / Chatbots
CES 2017 was the year of chatbots. The technology continues to expand
and the challenge now is ﬁnding the right way to channel the innovations in
our industry. The next challenge for AI? Using deep learning capabilities to
interpret unstructured data for even smarter applications and powerful
Women’s rings with a panic button, men’s boxers that
protect the goods from cellphone radiation, wearable
alcohol sensors that tell you when you’ve had enough
and auto-inﬂatable body jackets for use in sports.
Wearables continue to deliver solutions for personal
needs – whether or not you asked for them.
Manufacturers all came in to prove their TV tech was
the best tech – from haptic feedback to the thinnest
and lightest screens to 4K resolution and the blackest
blacks. As with previous years, the trend of bigger and
brighter screens was easy to see. One interesting
takeaway on the future of VR in the home: expect
really big screens and video walls – the insight being
that no one is dying to wear 3D goggles or VR helmets
in their living rooms.
5. Other things heard around the conference:
- The way emoji’s have been embraced by people as a
language is fascinating. The most requested feature
from companies is click-through emoji’s that can help
connect to commerce sites and point of sale.
- On Twitter, brands can actually target by speciﬁc
emoji’s now (which means targeting people who use
emoji’s to express speciﬁc feelings and moods). But of
course, emoji’s are an accent — not a strategy.
- Tinder and Spotify hooked up in a new
partnership based on analytics (and love).
Together they tapped one of the most talked about
subjects on tinder: music.
- Sony Entertainment said that there was high
correlation between their digital video
engagement and theatre ticket sales.
For the second year in a row, Y&R/VML collaborated with Dell to transform the Yardbird Restaurant in
Las Vegas into an immersive brand experience at CES.
Create an engaging experience
that builds excitement around
Dell products. Position Dell as
an innovative leader in tech.
The Visual Approach
Incorporate rich and colorful
visuals on Dell products.
Emphasize product features
such as TrueColor and
The experience showcased
inﬂuencers such as Tom
Holland, GlitchMob, JJP, and
An exclusive display offered visitors
a sneak peek and photo opp with
the ofﬁcial suit featured in the new
Spider-Man: Homecoming. Visitors
also watched the ﬁlm’s ofﬁcial
trailer on Dell’s new XPS 27.
A VR & Open Bar Happy Hour
and a Gaming Innovation Party
immersed attendees in ground-
breaking gaming and virtual
Important product announcements
included the Dell Gaming 15 7000
Inspiron; the Dell Canvas, geared
towards artists; and the impressive
Dell XPS 27 All-in-One with superior
Global CMO, Y&R
One of the most insightful experieces was
the curated tour of the CES show ﬂoor
hosted by Irwin Gotlieb, the Chairman of
GroupM Global. We learned about the
newest technologies around screen and
video quality and how tiling is the next big
thing. Connected kitchens were also
incredibly impressive, although not as
relevant to a Manhattan renter like me with
a kitchen the size of my pinky toe. There
was also a strong showing around Artiﬁcial
Intelligence (AI), which according to Irwin, is
“neither artiﬁcial nor intelligent.”
For me CES is really about what surrounds
the conference center. I spoke with clients
and prospects – all of whom are looking to
ﬁnd that one needle in the haystack that will
help drive their business in new and engag-
ing ways. As an agency at CES, the best
thing we can do is to help that navigation.
I was also lucky enough to sit on a
panel hosted by the DPAA (Digital Place
Based Ad Association) about the future
of digital out-of-home, media that’s
expected to overtake its traditional
counterpart by 2020. The audience was
a mix of tech partners and brands, with
a couple of agency folks too.
The tech companies focused on
employing data to develop super
personalized messaging. The brands in
the room were focused on how to
develop programmatic creative with a
more contextual delivery system. What
became evident in the conversation is
that now more than ever our job as an
agency is clear: harness innovation and
utilize technology to enhance the way
we tell brand stories.
Senior Account Executive
Y&R New York
This was my ﬁrst time at CES and it was an
incredible experience not only to learn
about the latest in tech from a new
business perspective, but also to hear
clients share their thoughts on the
opportunities and challenges they face.
Despite all the second-hand knowledge
about the event’s big crowds and sheer
size, nothing cou ld have prepared me for
the real experience of being there!
I wasn’t as wowed by the technology as I
thought I would’ve been. This year’s confer-
ence focused on how to make technology
such as AR, VR, wearables and drones
relevant and useful to mass consumers.
For instance, if we’ve learned anything
about wearables and ﬁtness trackers in the
last few years, it’s that there’s a signiﬁcant
drop off in usage after purchase.
Companies are realizing that it takes more
than just a ‘cool’ standalone product; it’s
about ﬁnding relevance and elevating the
product through creative partnerships and
I saw a lot of Alexa enabled/synced
products and interesting partnerships.
For example, Spotify partnered with Tinder
based on the insight that music is one of
the most talked about topics among
would-be soulmates. Users were presented
with the option to swipe left or right on
songs, ultimately matching you with a
Spotify playlist that suited to your tastes.
Based on the exhibits at CES, I saw many
companies trying to achieve the same
things through their products:
• Bring more accuracy to your life
• Make something existing more useful
• Connect seamlessly with existing AI
applications like Alexa
New opportunities for companies and noteworthy insights:
I was surprised by the volume of investment in ﬁtness innovation, as well as the
continuous product innovation in wearables and ﬁtness trackers.
After a few years of app acquisitions like “MyFitnessPal” and “MapMyRun,” Under
Armour has developed a strong strategy around connected ﬁtness. Under
Armour doesn’t just want to be a retail brand. They want to be a sports data
brand—just as LinkedIn is for business, and Instagram is for photos.
Fitbit had a big presence as well, showcasing their latest product innovations
with heavy emphasis on design. Some of the noteworthy partnerships included
Tory Burch and Vera Wang. Overall, their trackers were much more sleek and
modern than previous lines.
Turner Sports discussed how to engage with fans off the court. CEOs of NHL,
NASCAR and the Olympics have said that it is more imperative than ever to focus
on the fans who many not be going to the games, but are still engaging on
social and driving merchandise sales. Making the right technology partnership is
important for these sports leagues as they start engaging with fans more and
more outside of the stadium. As a result, Turner Sports also introduced their
in-house agency that will help capture some of this growing demand.
I’m curious to see what holds relevance in next year’s CES.
Group Creative Director, VML
Some CES observations:
In recent years, if you thought of a laptop, a
phone, a desktop, a tablet – you most likely
thought of Apple, and all its imitators. This
year the post-Apple landscape began to
emerge. Now the terrain has opened up
for experimentation in all of these areas,
and new visions are popping up at an
At CES 2017 we saw laptops of a
staggering variety of sizes, shapes, costs,
and features. Samsung made a
Chromebook that also runs Android apps,
transforms into a tablet, and has a built-in
stylus (Samsung Chromebook Pro). Lenovo
shared a stunningly thin 2-in-1 whose
keyboard is a screen that doubles as an
e-ink sketchpad (Lenovo Yoga Book). Dell
shared a business laptop thinner than a
Macbook Air and cheaper and more
powerful than a Macbook Pro (and with a
borderless touchscreen – the XPS 13
Gaming computers were in
abundance, including the wild $9,000
Predator from Acer, which has a 21”
curved screen, built in virtual reality,
outrageously powerful specs, built-in
subwoofers, a fold out keyboard, and
weighs 20 pounds!
PC makers shared desktops that are
aimed straight at Apple’s core
audience: creative professionals. The
Microsoft Surface Studio has a giant
touchscreen drawing canvas and a
funky control wheel. The Dell
Inspiron all-in-1 has built-in speakers
more powerful than a Bose
We saw smartphones with built-in
augmented reality and virtual reality
(Asus ZenFone AR running Google
Tango and Google
Daydream out of the box). There was
a phone with Amazon Alexa built-in
(Huawei Mate 9).
Xiaomi even shared a phone that is all screen, with no bezel at all on 3 of the 4 sides
(the Mi Mix).
Smart watches, a category that was quiet for most of 2016, started to hint at what’s
to come. Traditional watch makers like Casio and Fossil blended traditional watch
design (and analog hands) with smart innards.
And Amazon and Google left Apple in the dust in the race to conquer AI and smart
homes. Dozens of third parties integrated Amazon Echo’s open API into their
products this year. From the Triby connected fridge magnet, to the Ford SYNC in-car
infotainment system, you can now talk to Alexa in more places than ever before.