How to stand out at Las Vegas's high-profile CES tech show

Get ready for the first canine gaming console, and the rest of the nutty gizmos on display at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016


We are about to glimpse the future of technology . . . and the future of technology is: dogs playing video games?

I am en route to the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual unveiling of the hot new gadgets and devices you’ll be hearing about, wanting, craving, buying, regretting, ignoring and subsequently finding three years from now in a drawer in your kitchen. All in all, the Las Vegas-based event sounds like a pretty fun time for the 40 per cent of attendees who won’t be concussed by drones.

CES, as it’s known, is a competitive environment. There are thousands of exhibitors, all striving to have their products described as “a must-have” or, failing that, as “not entirely stupid.” So how does a company break through? Judging from my inbox, it’s essential to employ an aggressive email campaign that features at least one of these five tactics:

1. Pretend the product already has hype. “After a year of anticipation,” the email began, “the CleverPet Hub—the first game console for dogs—will finally be unveiled to the public.” Anticipation! Are you suddenly excited you’re nearing the end of the long wait you weren’t aware you were experiencing? Well don’t just sit there—tell your Chihuahua to line up outside BestBuy. The queue will surely be massive for an “extensive learning platform that will turn homes into interactive virtual playgrounds for pets.”

(For the record, this gizmo promises “mentally stimulating” games that will keep dogs engaged all day long. To which I say: No thanks, CleverPet. My self-confidence is already pretty fragile: I don’t need my Lab trouncing me at Scrabble.)

Another way to feign hype is to make frequent use of adjectives—the noun’s pimp. Indeed, it would appear that upwards of half the products on display at CES will be either “revolutionary” or “truly revolutionary.” What exactly will be revolutionized? Well, one company is promising the “truly revolutionary” creation of private cloud data storage for high-tech kitchen appliances. And not a moment too soon: I’ve almost run out of hard-drive space for my toaster’s tweets.

2. Enlist semi-famous people. One tech company is attending CES to unveil the latest version of its so-called smart wallet. Not interested? What if I told you that you could check out this smart wallet while simultaneously being in the vicinity of “celebrity Joey Fatone (former ’N Sync star)?” Oh, still not interested? Wow, that’s pretty awkward because Joey is, like, right here. He’s got feelings, you know. And apparently an Amex bill.

CES exhibitors appear to be big on the kind of famous-ish individual that needs to be identified as a “celebrity,” which isn’t a descriptor you’d need for an actual celebrity. If, for instance, George Clooney were coming to CES, it is highly unlikely the company would feel obliged to tout him as “celebrity George Clooney (famous actor and handsome person).” What’s that, Joey? No, we don’t want to see your Clooney impression.

3. Use trendy buzzwords. Among the most popular right now is “convenience.” Everybody is vowing to make everything more convenient—turning on lights, arming a security system, and so on. This is a challenge because all that stuff is super convenient to begin with. (Dear consumer: Yes, you can already open your garage with the touch of a button—but now you can do it with the touch of this button!) Still, this is great news for those who struggle to make it through the day without the ability to flip on their fireplace with an Apple Watch.

4. Make a bold claim. “Guess What?” asked the subject line of an email. “The Final Fusion of the Physical World and The Internet Is AR Holographic!” Don’t you think they should have prefaced that with a spoiler warning? Because now I totally know how our physical world will ultimately be fused. Which deprives me of all that sweet fusing-based mystery.

5. Pose a provocative question. “You charge your phone every day,” the email pitch began, “but do you clean your phone as much?” Whoa. Tell me more, PhoneSoap, which is the actual name of a product that I am not making up. Here’s how it works:
PhoneSoap uses “powerful UV-C bulbs” to “encompass your tablet in germicidal light,” sanitizing your device in just five minutes.
Absolutely everything else you touch during the day is covered in germs, so honestly what’s the point?

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