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What CES and the Super Bowl Taught Me About Brand Engagement

Brands spend millions to create buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Super Bowl, but forking over big bucks doesn’t always guarantee effectiveness. Was there a lot of whiz-bang eye candy in Vegas and Glendale this year? You bet. But not every product demo or brand experience scored a touchdown. In the end, success came down to the details. At GLG, we get the opportunity to create everything from social campaigns to digital retail experiences. We’re always looking for new ways to innovate, and there’s no more fabulous place to see the new experience ideas than at the events surrounding CES and the Super Bowl. I was lucky enough to be in Vegas and Glendale when these events were going down. Here’s my take on who did it best

If a spider and a robot had a baby…

The What: Intel Edison and experimental designer Anouk Wipprecht teamed up to design the Smart Spider Dress, a 3D-printed mixed-media creation that combines fashion, robotics, and wearable tech.

The Big Takeaway: This eye-catching CES demo really drew the crowds, with hundreds of people lining up to take pictures with the model. While the dress isn’t exactly practical (articulating spider legs might not be the best accessory when you’re meeting the new preschool teacher), I thought the demo was a really smart way to get people excited about the possibilities of wearables.

Heavy breathing in Vegas

The What: iFit used CES to shine a light on its entire line of fitness trackers that connect users wherever they are—from the bedroom to the kitchen, from the office to the gym. To demonstrate its interconnected products, the brand filled the elevated stage with athlete-models running, biking, weightlifting, and sleeping.

The Big Takeaway: For me, iFit succeeded in the visual storytelling department by effectively showing how all the products could connect to better inform your health decisions, from morning to night. Where it fell down, though, was in the final execution: Many of the digital displays were positioned too low to see, and the actual fitness data from the athletes (the most compelling part of iFit’s offering) was conspicuously missing.

Big surprises at the airport (the good kind)

The What: Powered by super dreams of attending the Big Game, my husband and I booked our flights to Phoenix and crossed our fingers. While our hopes of attending the game ended up getting dashed ($20,000 a ticket?!), we were blown away by our experience on Alaska Airlines. When we arrived at the gate for our flight to Phoenix, Alaska was giving away Seahawks-themed cookies, balloons, bracelets, and candy. (Incidentally, we received the same treatment at the Phoenix airport on our flight back to Seattle—a classy move considering the outcome of the game.) Alaska CEO Brad Tilden happened to be on our flight to Phoenix. He bought the entire plane a round of drinks and had the flight attendants pass out mini cheese-and-cracker plates.
The Big Takeaway: While Delta is the official Seahawks airline, Alaska capitalized on its connection with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to bolster its position as Seattle’s hometown airline by taking a small experience and making it awesome.

Party like a Hawk star

The What: On the day before the Big Game, Seahawks owner Paul Allen bought out Chase Field (the home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks) and put on 12 Fest, a fan event that drew almost 25,000 people (my husband and I included). They brought in cheerleaders, former players, mascots, and some highly interactive events. We posted our selfies to the Jumbotron by adding the hashtag #12fest to our photos (and probably spent a little too long at Giant Beer Pong).

The Big Takeaway: A big win for the Seahawks brand, this event created an immersive experience for all fans (even for folks like us who didn’t have tickets to the Big Game).

No matter how big the stage, brand demos should always balance the wow with the how. And when it comes to drawing in your audience, no detail is too small.