LAS VEGAS —
During the introduction of the Entertainment Matters keynote panel, Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink and panel moderator, asked the question, “Why are the most powerful marketers on Earth at this technology and geewhizathon, even one as high profile as CES?”
The answer set the tone for the hour-long keynote panel that featured Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP; David Kenny, president of Akamai Technologies; Mich Mathews, senior VP, central marketing group of Microsoft; Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group; and Joseph V. Tripodi, executive VP and chief marketing and commercial officer of the Coca-Cola Company.
“Why would anyone come to Las Vegas in January if they didn’t have to endure the thunderous scene of this weeklong bazaar?” asked Kassan. “Believe me, they’re not here to shop. They’re here to work.”
The work is blurring lines, as Coca-Cola has done by creating one of the largest brand-specific Facebook sites. But even this site goes beyond just selling a cold drink.
“We helped build the ‘Avatar’ brand,” said Tripodi, noting that just more than a year and a half ago the not-so-little film was considered a huge gamble that had the potential to be a make or break for the film’s creator James Cameron.
Now, as the line between entertainment and advertising continues to blur, said Kassan, so are the lines between those who make the technology and those who use it to market their products.
“We now have our customers telling us 24/7 what they want, what they like and what they don’t like,” said Microsoft’s Matthews. She says that consumers have been trained to tell what they think, especially when it relates to a technology brand.
The other part of the equation said David Kenny was that as more people move from traditional broadband and access content on the computer, the infrastructure needs to keep pace. He stressed that there is now a 100-fold increase in the use of the bandwidth. “We must design better or we’ll sink.”
Ensuring that they don’t sink means reaching consumers, who often have no attention span, and reaching them, said Kenny, requires keeping it simple, but retaining the brand awareness is the next issue.
“It is easy to be seduced by what we see here,” said Tripodi, referring the so-called next best thing that fills the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, in response to Kassan’s question of how to reach the “next billion.”
One component of this is the shift from the PC to the mobile phone, and if the issue of infrastructure is addressed, this could be the key as the PC is still nonexistent in many parts of the world.
“Mobile is the way to reach those markets,” said Kenny. “It is a new life on lease.”