Growing battle for coverage intensifies at electronics show

Judging by who will be attending the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, many different types of companies are positioning themselves as technology innovators.

Judging by who will be attending the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, many different types of companies are positioning themselves as technology innovators.

While Microsoft joins the likes of Apple as no-shows at the event - expected to attract about 150,000 attendees and 5,000 media - a record number of home appliance manufacturers, automakers and suppliers, and digital health and fitness companies are represented this year, says Tara Dunion, senior director, communications, Consumer Electronics Association and the International Consumer Electronics Show.

"If you look at the technology industry five or 10 years ago, it was such a different landscape than what it is today," explains Dunion. She cites the auto-motive industry as an example of technology's reach, as eight of the top 10 vehicle manufacturers are at the show this year.

Toyota Motor returns to the event in 2013, having launched its in-car mobile technology platform, Entune, at the show two years ago.

Cindy Knight, public affairs manager, Toyota Motor sales, says while auto shows "are traditionally a place to show the latest sheet metal of beautiful cars, increasingly these motors have extremely sophisticated electronics in them that are perhaps better explained to a more tech-savvy and interested audience."

Hot categories

There are 221 exhibitors at CES in the digital health and fitness category this year, up from 171 in 2012, an increase of almost 30%.

Eight of the top 10 automakers are at the show. In total, exhibits in the automotive technology and services category will cover in excess of 100,000 square feet, up 5% from 2012.

The Eureka Park section, devoted to startups and emerging companies, will feature more than 140 businesses, an increase of 40% versus 2012.

Full display
With 3,000 square feet of space co-branded with its Lexus model booked, Toyota will unveil its advanced active research safety vehicle and autonomous car development program.

"Many other companies have been getting media attention for their driverless cars. Up until this event Toyota has largely been silent on the issue," Knight adds. "It gives us a good platform to talk about a sophisticated technology story. It gets us in front of the right kind of writers."

The challenge for companies at the annual show has always been to be heard, says Nathan Friedman, MD of the Chicago office for Ogilvy Public Relations, which is executing an effort for LG Electronics.

That task has become even more daunting because the show has become so mainstream, he says. "Consumers actually know about it and watch press conferences on CNET," adds Friedman. "That creates more competition for coverage, not just between LG, Samsung, or Sony, but with appliance manufacturers, automakers, and consumer packaged goods companies."

Standing out
Remember when Lady Gaga presented at Polaroid's booth in 2011? Friedman explains that while celebrities will always be used to generate buzz, he sees more companies wanting to maximize their budgets with snackable communications that can target different audiences at the electronic show, from analysts and regulators to bloggers and at-home consumers.

"Having a huge party used to be the big thing to do, but it is no longer about broadcasting news. It is about driving engagement with different audiences with compelling content that can be shared," he adds.

"You want to engage media and influencers with information they can reach their audience with. Then create ways to engage and inspire consumers."

Cori Barrett, SVP, Access Communications, notes the expanded audience for the show "is also an opportunity for some smaller companies." Even general media is looking to do what is new in tech-type stories, she says, and the answers don't have to come from the big guns.

This year the smaller players will be well represented with Eureka Park, a zone recently created specifically for emerging companies. "It is a smaller booth, but a way for them to get great exposure," notes Dunion. 

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