3 Design Takeaways from CES’ Digital Immersion

Jeff Janes is Creative Director at GES...

CES landed upon us en mass with thousands of international tech-geeks craving the latest electronic innovations and insight into the future of digital captivation. The show is nothing short of a spectacle drawing masses of international press, techno connoisseurs and celebrities, but that’s not why we were there. For us, it's all about the digital immersion.

As a creative director at GES, it behooves me to stay on top of face-to-face marketing trends. CES was anything but face-to-face marketing, it was digital domination. The usual suspects set up super structures that dominated the entry way and engaged the senses in ways that would make Jules Verne proud.  In grand scale, attendees entered the south hall into full 4D immersions full of light, sound and touch. Experiences were designed to heighten their senses and show them the “digital lifestyle.”  Eye candy abounded with the latest in interactive technology and intelligent lighting, coercing attendees to engage in gesture-sensitive interactives and two-story tall 3D theaters. All the while dramatic architecture takes a back seat to digital illusion and mass engagement. But beyond the illusion, are several realities.

Brand activation is a science.

Never assume that your message is getting through. Develop the message and deliver consistency and repetition throughout the experience. This is true at the micro level as well. Too often, I engaged an interactive or technology without personal assistance, which on its own, didn’t convey the intended message. Have a purpose and relate it back to the experience. Give the visitor something to relate to.

Where’s the soul?

I appreciate the “modernist digital environment” as much as anyone and am awed by the work of such creative icons as Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava, but spending a day on the show floor is hard. I felt drawn to exhibits that offered more than futuristic expressions of grandeur and gravitated toward experiences that had a soul (those exhibits that had a profound and delicate creative touch). The Sharp and House of Marley exhibits were great examples. Warm and welcoming while delivering powerful communications accented by compelling technology demonstrations (with a bit of human touch).

Last, never underestimate the impact of a first impression!

OK, let’s get obvious here… The mind share moment is short and attendees are not always predictable.  It’s critical to establish a compelling impression that will draw visitors and resonate beyond the show.  Given the fact that we can only retain a small percentage of what we experience at a show like CES, it’s critical that we make the most of that first impression. Can you be assured you'll get a second chance? As I sit here writing, I can recall many examples, but few will truly influence the way that I think about future projects.

In all, this was a great CES. Some amazing and memorable experiences will surely grace the award issues of future event design magazines. What was your favorite design element this year? Share your experience on our Facebook wall! Don’t forget to look for Mark Tedesco's analysis, description and highlights of his CES’ design experience next week.

Want to learn more about exhibit design? Join me at EXHIBITOR 2012 by grabbing your walking shoes for a trek on the Las Vegas Strip. We'll learn about design parallels that you can use at your next show. Sign up here!

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