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Marketing Makeover at CES 2012

One of my favorite events at CES is Steven J. Leon’s Showstoppers. Tech companies large and small rent a 6-foot booth space for 4 hours so they can convince reporters and bloggers (this is a press event) how cool they are in hopes of getting coverage.

A real niche product

Some of these companies, like Twonky, have a real niche product.

Because I’m here to study how companies market themselves, I like to look at how good they are in their signage. With 100+ companies in a large ballroom, I’m not going to listen to everybody’s elevator pitch. It’s amazing how many just put up a sign with their name, giving no clue what they do. Others have slogans or graphics that are edgy or plays on words but, again, give no clue what the product or service is.


Creepy signage from YurBuds.

I’d like to do a marketing makeover of some of these guys, similar to the lightening rounds I used to do with Carol Worthington Levy at DMA events. Someone would bring up their catalog or mail pack or ad and we’ll have to fire off quick ideas to make it better. Some of our ideas were better than others, but it’s amazing how many obvious improvements are hiding in plain sight.

One company that could use a makeover is YurBuds, with its “earbuds that won’t fall out.” Please, don’t make them look like implants. Don’t make them red like blood. Don’t make the cords look like blood dripping from your ears. Change those things and your product will be less creepy and sell better.


Glasses that look like glasses, from EmPower.

Another candidate is EmPower (note unhelpful jargony name), a company that makes eyeglasses with built in electronics in the earpiece that changes them from reading glasses to distance glasses at the touch of a finger. Invisible bifocal glasses that do this cost hundreds; these are $12 and available already at 1200 opticians. Nice story… but they miss the boat with a marketing display that features the fact they are glasses. Yes, we know that. It is the hidden electronics that makes them different. To demonstrate that, show them as anything BUT glasses.

Nicole Messier demos Kogeto panoramic camera

Nicole Messier demos Kogeto panoramic camera.

The only truly new product I saw was from Kogeto: a camera that attaches to your iPhone and will take a panoramic photo which you can then upload to Facebook or a similar app; the viewer uses a slider to move the image around. It was so cool that, true story, I did not even notice it was my pal Nicole Messier doing the demo. Their signage could use some work however.


#1 Carol Worthington-Levy on 01.11.12 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for the plug Otis. I’d be pleased to do lighting rounds of critique again with you anytime you want! It’s amazing how many clients got benefit out of that! And how many agencies we pissed off because we pointed out how they were really doing a disservice for their clients. Sigh. It’s tough to be the evangelist of responsive, measurable and effective work!

#2 CES 2013: start the party without me on 01.05.13 at 1:44 pm

[...] I were there I’d arrive in time for ShowStoppers and give these good and awful marketers a probably unappreciated critique. I’d head for the [...]

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