#CES2018 Unplugged

Want to hear a joke? What’s the one thing you need at an electronics show? Electricity. And the joke is that’s exactly what they didn’t have for almost three hours at CES as the event was plunged into darkness following a power outage.

I was wandering through the impressive dedicated Samsung area admiring their 8k behemoth TV called The Wall when someone pulled the plug and the whole of CES was brought to a juddering halt for the first time in its 51-year history. It was actually quite eerie stumbling through the darkened auditorium with all the shiny new electronic kit now dormant and people using the lights from their smartphones to guide them to the nearest exit.

The heaviest January downpour in the desert City, since records began, washed out the event’s main auditorium and also resulted in Google’s flagship exhibition site to be temporarily closed. Twitter had a field day…

All this got me thinking that the gloom of the conference center following the failure of Nevada Power to get the power back on was kind of an allegory for this year’s show. Compared to recent years where we have seen the introduction of ground-breaking technology such as autonomous vehicles, virtual reality glasses, drones and the connected home, the 2018 event didn’t witness anything truly revolutionary. Yes, we did see much more connectivity than ever before and voice activation took a huge leap forward but there wasn’t any startling new tech to get the geeks salivating. In essence, much more a year of evolution than revolution.

That isn’t to say that there wasn’t anything to admire, so I have provided a run-down of the most interesting stuff that was on offer this year:


Another year dominated by the car manufacturers with around 25% of the 3.2 million square feet of CES taken up by the auto giants. Many more examples of autonomous vehicles including a new bus called Olli presented by IBM Watson and a very similar looking product with added retail e-commerce opportunities showcased by Toyota’s e-Palette offering. But by far the most interesting concept was offered by Nissan who demonstrated their ‘Brain To Vehicle’ (B2V) technology which essentially allows your car to read your mind so improve your driving experience.

Over at the Sands convention center (kind of an off-Broadway tech experience of smaller players and start-ups) was a fascinating kick starter idea out of Italy which introduced the notion of ‘carbitrage’ for electric vehicle owners. The Charge Me concept is simple: if you have an EV with a full charge and another EV driver is nearby who is running low on energy, you can sell some of your ‘juice’ to them by connecting them via a dedicated cable.

Virtual Reality

The whole area of AR and VR was massive again this year at CES with Google in particular pushing their new Daydream product at every opportunity. Their presence at CES and on the Las Vegas strip was impossible to avoid which is interesting given their relative anonymity over the past decade.

But the most fascinating VR launch was from none other than iconic boxing legend Floyd Mayweather who held a press conference to announce the arrival of his new ‘bricks and mortar’ Mayweather boxing oriented gyms and virtual reality app. Ever wondered what it’s like to fight against the best pound-for-pound boxer who has ever lived? Well with the new VR app you can pit your wits, brawn and dexterity with the (virtual) man himself. Mayweather demonstrated the app himself and despite some nifty footwork and punishing blows from the man himself, the virtual version took the bout.


Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Assistant, Bixby etc. were all to be found controlling anything from your car to your washing machine. The battle for dominance clearly seems to be between Amazon and Google as they try to establish their voice activation variants as the dominant player.


ForwardX Robotics rolled out a four-wheeled travel bag that will follow its owner around the airport without the need to drag it. The ‘smart bag’ has several onboard cameras to detect its user and also uses AI to avoid banging into other people and their carry-on luggage. It also has the capability to send a message to its owner if they stray too far from it in Duty Free or when the battery pack is getting low.

And finally my favourite gadget of the event has to be the super cute Sony Aibo puppy. This robot dog was the star of the show with its AI controlled actions and ability to react to commands.

Want more round-ups from CES? Click here for Tech East and West round-ups by OMD’s Chrissie Hanson.

I predict…CES 2018

The Consumer Electronic Show is back next week and the hype machine is already in full flow. Want to know what’s planned for Vegas? Read on…

The Christmas decorations are only just down and the New Year hangover migraine is now just a dull headache, so that means it must be time for the annual techfest that is CES. Over 170,000 tech heads will descend upon the bright lights of Las Vegas for four days starting on Tuesday 9th January. There will be almost 4,000 exhibitors at the World Trade Center Las Vegas (WTCLV) all plying their all-new electronic wares across the 3.2 million square feet of floor space.

Since its inception in 1967, CES has showcased some groundbreaking technology such as the VCR (1970), DVD (1996), IPTV (2005) and Autonomous Vehicles (2013). So, what is the latest buzz on the shiny new kit that we are likely to see next week? And will there be anything truly game changing?

Artificial Intelligence

Last year we saw Hong Kong based Hanson Robotics demonstrate their Sophia Bot and although it was a huge leap forward in the development of animated expressions and emotional intelligence it still looked somewhat creepy. Or was it just me? Sophia has a sophisticated level of artificial intelligence and will respond to open questions. I’m guessing we will see an updated version of Sophia this year at CES albeit with a few tweaked algorithms – I’m not sure Hanson want a repeat of her infamous comment that she would like to “destroy humans”.


Given that around 25% of the WTCLV is dedicated to cars, you might be deceived into thinking that CES was a motor show. Over the past few years the presence of all the auto giants has accelerated as they focus on their connected, electric and driverless product. Rumours include four new ‘robotics’ concepts from Honda (including an autonomous off roader), a sexy new infotainment system from Mercedes and a new solid state battery by Fisker which promises a range of over 500 miles and a recharge time of just one minute.

This years’ keynote will be from Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett following on from Carlos Ghosn from Renault Nissan last year and Mary Barra from General Motors the year before – a clear sign that automotive is critically important to the event.

Internet of Things

In recent years we have seen more and more kitchen appliances being connected and this year will be no different. Although we saw Bixby voice assistant on a Samsung fridge last year, I predict there will be a lot more Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integrations. I also expect to see a whole slew of connected gadgets, although given that in recent years I have seen items such as underpants, toothbrushes, cutlery and even bras all being hooked up to the internet I’m honestly not sure what there is possibly left to connect.


Bigger (100 inch plus), thinner (the thickness of wallpaper) and even higher definition (up to 8k). News on the grapevine is that LG have an 88 inch 8k unit that will be presented in all its HD glory in Vegas. Naturally, all of them will be connected and increasingly voice activated. I just wonder if we will witness anything really revolutionary (like the curved screens from 5 years ago) or it will just be improvements of existing technology? I’m predicting more of the latter than the former.

Virtual Reality

Google don’t often have a particularly large presence at CES but this year they have got plenty of space booked. I’m guessing that a decent chunk of that will be to showcase their new Daydream VR product. Even though it’s already launched, Oculus Go will likely have some space dedicated to it and there is some noise around a new VR headset from Lenovo called the ‘Mirage’ which might make its debut at CES.

On top of all that there will inevitably be plenty of new drones, wearables (predominantly health-focused), smartphones, robots and crazy one-off gizmo’s that will almost certainly entertain but probably never make it to the mainstream.

As usual I will be trawling the floors (in a comfy pair of shoes) to bring you details on the latest and greatest kit so don’t forget to check back later next week when I will be providing a full review of CES and analysing whether any of my predictions actually become a (virtual) reality.

Gwyneth Paltrow talks diversity, inspiration and what she doesn’t know

The fifth OMD Oasis kicked off yesterday with our very own Mainardo de Nardis stating that the Oasis line-up of speaker was arguably stronger than at the Palais itself. It would be difficult to argue with him when the triumvirate of speakers included Imran Khan from Snapchat, Linda Yaccarino from NBC Universal and Gwyneth Paltrow from Goop.

Given the star quality of Ms Paltrow it’s maybe unsurprising that there was no room left on the veranda when she stepped on the stage to be interviewed by Monica Karo (OMD CEO US). The initial topic of diversity is a key theme at this year’s Cannes Lions and Monica wasted no time in asking why there were so few women in leadership roles and what we can do about it. Gwyneth talked about how women needed an “absolute self-belief” in their abilities and the courage to ignore the people who simply tell them that “they can’t”. The word she used to describe this was “teflonness” which obviously can’t be found in a dictionary but we all know exactly what she means.

Intriguingly, apart from those traits of self-confidence and the ability to shun detractors she also focused on how innate “femininity is an asset” and that this “softness” can be used as a genuine advantage. Her e-commerce health and wellbeing business Goop is mainly comprised of women and she alluded to the fact that all her employees have all these elements in their skillset.

When quizzed about what scares her, Gwyneth was surprisingly honest with her response: “I’m scared sh**less all the time”. And the main cause of that fear is the unknown. As a relatively new entrepreneur she is evidently keen to learn and cited a number of mentors and colleagues who are assisting her on her commercial journey. And it’s clear that she is prepared to face those fears when she claimed to be “fastidious about what I don’t know” whilst equally accepting that she just doesn’t comprehend certain aspects of her business: “Facebook pixels? F**k off. I will never understand how that works!”

So what does she do to counteract those pockets of knowledge that she doesn’t have? Simple. Like all strong leaders, she employs people who are “way smarter than me” to do the jobs that she cannot do. As she so eloquently out it, “it takes a village”.

To close the fireside chat, Monica asked her where she wanted her business to be in five years time. Her answer was measured and smart. Paltrow wants her business to avoid haphazard growth and grow steadily into a “massive, modern, global lifestyle brand with health and wellbeing at its heart”. And when Goop does push its boundaries beyond the US she wants to guarantee that they are sensitive to culture and values. Simply put? “Do it well”.

This is the second year that Gwyneth has attended the OMD Oasis to talk about Goop. She has been impressive on both occasions but this year, even more so. In just one year she has transformed herself from being a Hollywood A-lister trying to become a powerful business icon into a powerful business icon who used to a Hollywood A-lister. Now that’s what I call a transformation.

The Countdown to Creativity – Cannes Lions 2017

The 64th iteration of the annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity commences on Saturday and I’ve taken a sneak peak at the schedule of events to see what’s hot and what’s not.

Over the past decade, the trend at Cannes has been to focus on star appeal and judging by the snaking queues to get into these events it’s clearly a tactic that works. Hollywood A listers such as Gwyneth PaltrowWill Smith and Channing Tatum took centre stage last year at the Palais. And the line-up this year is arguably more impressive with the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Armin Van Buuren, Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding, Halle Berry, Dame Helen Mirren, Laura Dern, Mena Suvari, Ron Howard, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Le Bon and Sir Ian McKellen treading the boards of Debussy and Lumiere.

But beyond the glamour and glitz of the celebrity guests, there is also much more to enjoy across the 8 days / 18 stages / 450+ talks on offer to the 15,000 or so delegates. Many of the presentations revolve around how the media landscape continues to morph as almost everything becomes digitized, plus a strong focus on how brands are increasingly turning to entertainment content to engage with their customers. Featured themes include curated talks on aspects of our industry including diversity, creativity for good, visions of the future and brave brands.

It’s difficult to pick out individual slots but one session that caught my eye was “Can Data Make You Funnier” featuring Ginger the Robot who is billed as a “professional robot actor and comedian”. It poses the question as to whether a robot, through the use of big data, can master one of the most difficult skills a human can achieve: to make others laugh. Not an easy task but I’d wager that Ginger can’t be any worse than Harry Hill.

Cannes Events beyond the Palais

But it’s not all about what happens at the Palais as the event has inevitably expanded onto the Croisette and its beautiful beaches. Both Facebook and Google have a slew of fireside chats and seminars down by the sea and OMD will be back at their usual Cabana location for the 5th OMD Oasis.

This year the four key themes will be:

  • Smarter Stories for Growth
  • Everything is media
  • Anything is content
  • Everywhere is data

There is also a pretty impressive list of speakers including Imran Khan (Snapchat), Mark Thompson (New York Times) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) to name but a few. All that and Bacardi cocktails from 4.00pm. What’s not to like?


The Coveted Cannes Lions

And finally to the awards themselves, which is the real reason why this event exists. Allegedly. The past two years have been particularly strong with the likes of the Volvo ‘Live Test’ featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two trucks and the cute John Lewis Christmas campaign by Manning Gottlieb featuring Monty the Penguin.

This year a total of 390 judges from 50 countries (including OMD EMEA’s President, Nikki Mendonça) will pore over an estimated 45,000+ entries. And given that ‘diversity’ is a core theme of the event this year it’s interesting to note that 42% of this years judges are women which is the highest ever (and more than double the number from 2012).

It’s a tad too early to predict who the likely winners will be this year (many of the shortlists haven’t been released yet) but I fully expect a focus on ‘bravery’ given the highlight on the agenda. And with all new categories this year for 360° video, VR and AR it’s reasonable to assume that the ultimate winners will have an element of these new technologies as a focal part of their composition. For a full review of all winners and a ‘best of’ review of the 2017 Lions look out for my blog late next week. Until then ‘bonne chance’ and ‘a toute à l’heure’. Je pense.


 For any additional information, thoughts or further details please don’t hesitate to contact us at OMD EMEA

OMD Oasis at CES 2017: I want my own TV – the rise of addressability

What are the three scariest words to a marketeer? Well, according to David Pogue, Tech Critic at Yahoo Finance, at the OMD Oasis at CES last week they are “skip this ad”. The four members of the panel delved deeper into why consumers want to skip ads and their conclusion? It’s all down to relevance (or lack of it).

Bastien Schupp, Vice President Global Marketing Communications at Groupe Renault, explored the notion of relevance further by equating it to the car industry. He explained that, at any one time, 96% of people are not in the market for a vehicle and yet around 90% of communication is attributed to them. He talked about how we need more balance in focusing on the 4% who are actually ‘in the market’ to buy a car by marketing to individuals rather than marketing to the masses. His stark warning?

“More efficient targeting is about relevance. And if we don’t become more relevant we are doomed.” 

Bastien also added that it goes far beyond targeting, it’s also about relevant content too. Simply put? “You can’t just put your TV commercial on digital platforms”. He pointed out that achieving this shift was “a long process” and to ensure this happens “agencies need to transform rapidly”.

Paul Kelly, Chief Partnerships Officer at Awesomeness TV, elaborated further on the topic of relevance. He made a clear distinction between ‘individual relevance’ (something that satisfies the need state at that particular moment in time) and also ‘cultural relevance’ which he said was “an inconvenient truth… purchase decisions are often made on emotion rather than fact”. Kelly insisted that by continuing to chase increasing accountability through all forms of addressable media “we are possibly missing out on cultural relevance”. He cited an example from Honda who had decided to target younger age groups even though they are obviously not in the market for a Honda. The reasoning behind that move? Because if Honda don’t speak to those younger consumers then by the time they get into the market Honda won’t be in their consideration set. He added, “a lot of big brands are missing out on that right now”.

Nikki Mendonça, President at OMD EMEA, interjected and stated that brands need to become more disruptive. She believes that since the economic crisis many clients had become “risk averse” but she had detected more recently that some clients were becoming “more willing to take risks”. In terms of addressable media, she added that “we are only at the beginning” and the main challenges to adoption would be the acceleration of technology, how we use the data and data protection laws. But she made it clear that both advertisers and agencies need to get on board because “no-one is going to stop the addressability train”.


What followed was a lively debate on the future of live content via the likes of Periscope, Meerkat or Facebook Live. Bastien Schupp believes it’s potential is “hugely overrated”. He conceded that it may offer an interesting opportunity at live sporting events (such as unique viewing at half time during a football match) but for the automotive industry he was much more sceptical: “we could broadcast from a Motor Show but frankly unless we had a flying car then no-one would watch”.

David Pogue disagreed. His assertion was that the power of live video was its authenticity. He offered a personal perspective of taking the unboxing of technology (something we have all witnessed on YouTube) and taking it to a live platform. For example, he had reviewed the Apple Airpots in a 15-minute unveiling last month. Despite the fact that he didn’t think anyone would watch he was astonished that “58,000 people watched me open a box!”. In the following days, the views jumped up into the hundreds of thousands. He went on to say that although it wasn’t necessarily the best quality broadcast the fact that “you can’t edit it and you can’t script it” is one of the main reasons why consumers love it so much.

Paul Kelly had a foot in each camp. He acknowledged that there were limited applications for ‘live’ right now but still felt that we would pivot towards it when we had figured out how best to use it. And that is a challenge for clients, agencies and vendors alike to determine how best to use the platform. What is also true is that the technology will continue to evolve and as such previously undreamed-of applications will inevitably surface. But the key driver of the platform will, as ever, be the consumer themselves. As Kelly put it so succinctly “it depends solely on what the audience wants to see”.

2.4 million square foot of whoa? CES 2017 reviewed

Well, as predicted in my pre-CES piece, the main areas of interest were automotive, robots and VR, although my confident prognostication that ’embeddables’ was going to be the breakout technology for 2017 proved to be a tad off the mark. Actually I was way off. But you can expect me to reuse the same prediction every year until it finally happens…

Anyway, swiftly moving on, let’s take a closer look at how the more successful predictions came to fruition.


Your car is now the largest connected piece of technology that you can own. And every single one of the manufacturers displaying their wares focused on the progress they have made in connecting your vehicle to other devices.

The major innovation for 2017 was the use of voice activation. Both Ford and VW announced their respective collaborations with Amazon ‘Alexa’ whilst Nissan talked about their association with Microsoft ‘Cortana’. Talk to your car and it will politely talk back, whilst simultaneously acting upon your every whim at home – switch on your lights, adjust the central heating or even check what’s in your fridge (assuming you have the right connected appliances of course).

Alternatively, talk to Alexa at home and control various functions of your car, like turning on the air conditioning or checking how much fuel you have left.


And talking of Nissan, I watched the keynote speech by Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, at the Westgate Pavilion, where he stated that there will be more change in the automotive sector in the next 10 years than there was in the last 50 years.

He confidently predicted that by 2030 a quarter of all vehicles on the road will be autonomous (and added that this was a “conservative estimate”). He also talked about their alliance with NASA on developing the revolutionary Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system. What problem does it solve? Well autonomous systems follow strict road rules (such as, your car can never cross solid road lines) so SAM uses a human interface to offer ‘real time’ solutions to complex ‘real world’ problems that even sophisticated algorithms can’t figure out.

Elsewhere we saw China’s answer to Tesla, Faraday Future, launch its vision of an electric production car (as opposed to the outlandish FFZero1 hypercar concept which it revealed at last year’s CES).

The unimaginatively entitled FF91 is fully electric, autonomous and has very cool motorised doors. There are no firm details on when it will be launched or the price but you can put down a $5,000 deposit to get yourself on the list. However, given some of the negative stories circulating about the financial viability of Faraday I won’t be one of them.



Can you imagine a TV as thin as a credit card? Well, LG can. And it did: the new LG Signature 4K OLED W series. The W stands for wallpaper and refers to the TV’s new “picture-on-wall” design. Its dual system has the main display underpinned by a Dolby Atmos Soundbar. That very same Soundbar also houses the TV’s primary guts, HDMI inputs and so forth. But it’s that screen which is the key feature coming in at a mere 2.57 millimeters thick.



Samsung finally demonstrated how far VR has come since the Oculus Rift took CES by storm just a few short years ago. Their five-arena immersive oasis was simply stupendous and one of the real highlights of this year’s show. Want to take a bobsleigh ride, fly shotgun on a stunt plane, throw buildings at a rival robot or even go on a Star Wars X-Fighter mission? No problem, Samsung Gear offered the opportunity to experience them all, and provide a genuine taster as to what immersive entertainment will become over the next few years.


Smart home assistants, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home, became an unexpected Christmas 2016 consumer hit. But given the new kit we saw on display at CES this week, it will make these simple voice activated units obsolete rather swiftly.

Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics demonstrated its Sophia Bot late in 2016 and, although it was a huge leap forward in the development of animated expressions/emotional intelligence, it still looked somewhat creepy. Or is it just me?


At CES it showcased the latest version of the same technology, which took strange to a whole new level. Professor Einstein is a 14.5″ Wi-Fi-connected robot which is designed along the lines of Amazon Alexa, albeit with a very different outward appearance…


This is the Kickstarter style, off-the-wall, oddball tech that nobody could have predicted apart from the crazy people who invented it. And as usual, there was plenty on display.

For starters, what about the Kolibree? It is the world’s first toothbrush with Artificial Intelligence. With the associated app you can gamify your brushing experience (seriously, you cannot make this stuff up) to ensure you clean your teeth properly.

Not convinced? Me neither. So next up, we have VR shoes from Taclim. The footwear literally allows you to walk in the shoes of your virtual heroes and can simulate a variety of terrains (from sand to snow). They look a bit like Croc sandals so even though the enhanced gameplay might be cool, you certainly won’t look chic whilst wearing them.


Talking of cool, what about a levitating speaker system? Well thanks to the Crazybaby Mars you can have your mind officially blown. It looks a bit like an Amazon Alexa, replete with funky blue lights (naturally) and a free floating dome. It’s also not just a gimmick as the sound quality is incredible. Until I saw and heard it, I had no idea that I needed one in my life.

So there you have it, another tech fest over for another year. Did CES 2017 live up to expectation? Whoa, did it ever. Leaving Las Vegas. And out.

This article was originally posted at M&M Global – http://mandmglobal.com/2-4-million-square-foot-of-whoa-ces-2017-reviewed/

What happens in Vegas… A preview of CES 2017

The fiftieth iteration of the geek-fest that is the Consumer Electronics Show kicks off on 5 January under the banner of ‘The Future is Now’. After a few solid, but unspectacular recent events, the initial buzz is that 2017 is going to be a vintage year. Viva Las Vegas!

Since the first CES show way back in 1967, when a mere 17,500 attendees showed up to get a sneak peak of products from around 100 exhibitors, the event has grown exponentially. 2017 will see an estimated 180,000 delegates make the journey to Nevada to walk the 2.47 million square feet of exhibit space and peruse the latest tech on offer from around 3,600 companies.

So, as the CES machine inexorably grinds into action, what are the big rumours already circulating around the main event?


You might be forgiven for thinking that CES is gradually morphing into the ‘Las Vegas Motor Show’ given the amount of metal that was paraded last year. Only six years ago there were no automotive manufacturers attending CES.

This year? There will be at least 10 exhibiting including marques such as Mercedes, Toyota, Hyundai and BMW plus a keynote speech from Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn. Expect to see the topical themes of electrification, connectivity and autonomy being prevalent again this year but also some newly emerging topics such as ‘future mobility’ which harnesses the power of all three.

Take Honda, for example, which is showcasing the NeuV concept, demonstrating how it can reduce congestion through car sharing, vehicle-to-vehicle communications and new levels of in-car connectivity. Sounds cool. Just a pity that it’s at a decade away from production.


So what about some self-driving tech that will be here a little sooner?

Delphi and Mobileye have announced they will conduct a 6.3-mile self-driving challenge in real world conditions to showcase their snappily entitled Centralised Sensing Localisation and Planning (CSLP) automated driving system which they have described as, “The first turnkey, fully integrated automated driving solution with an industry-leading perception system and computing platform.”


Despite the fact that people keep saying that television is dead, it’s funny that the manufacturers keep churning out masses of new screens. Let’s be honest: TV isn’t dead, it’s just that the content delivery system has changed.

And despite the fact that our smaller smart devices have the edge in terms of mobility and flexibility, there is no substitute for watching a movie or sporting event on a massive high definition television with a boombastic sound system. We are expecting the almost obligatory revelation (in recent years we have seen curved TVs, roll up screens etc) but in the main it will be the usual arms race for bigger or better (cue 8K units and 100″ inch-plus screens aplenty).

From what I can gather, the turf war this year will be all about High Dynamic Range (HDR). So for a change, this isn’t about pixel count. HDR offers higher contrast, vivid colours and brighter images which get the best quality picture from a 4K screen. I haven’t seen it in action yet but apparently the difference in image quality is exceptional.

So, if HDR takes off and becomes an industry standard then the content makers/broadcasters will inevitably have to follow suit. The likes of Netflix, Amazon and the BBC are already investigating or even trialling the technology. The only downside is that it’s yet another annoying acronym to remember when choosing a new TV (4K, HD, HFR, HDMI, HEVC, OLED, POLED, MU-MIMO, SUHD, VP9….the list goes on).


At last year’s CES, we witnessed the launch and evolution of some serious virtual reality kit from the Oculus Rift to the HTC Vive to the Sony Playstation VR. The expectation this year is that there will be a slew of Windows 10-based systems being launched from the likes of Acer, Dell and HP plus the new HTC Vive 2 which is seemingly wireless.

But that won’t be the real focus. Now we have the hardware, we need the killer software. To date, I have seen some ‘interesting’ VR scenarios but nothing that has blown my mind. Now that’s all about to change.


We are rapidly moving away from multi-media and multi-screens to multi-sensory. With the rise of machines, the proliferation of the Internet of Things and the consumers desire for real-life experiences, interactivity has become, err, very last year.

Consequently that means we are moving seamlessly from the Interactive Age to the Immersive Age, a topic which is being covered extensively at the OMD Oasis at CES. And we are not just talking gaming here. People also want immersive content from the movie makers and streaming services but also venturing into new arenas such as comic books and visual novels.


The Mobile World Congress in February has become the main focus for the phone manufacturers to show off their shiny new gear so CES isn’t always the best place to witness anything revolutionary. That said, Chinese firm Huawei introduced its Mate 8 model at last year’s CES and they are expected to maintain that trend with another high profile launch this year. Speculation is also rife that Sony will introduce a new range of Xperia kit at a press conference on 4 January, including a version with a 5.5-inch 4K display.

Given that Apple recently rocked the mobile world by dispensing with the headphone jack and making their phone fully waterproof, it’s anticipated that several others will follow suit.


Last year was heralded as the year the robot at CES. It wasn’t. It was more than a little disappointing to be frank. 71% more floor space at CES was dedicated to robots than the previous year and it was predicted that this would finally launch us into a dystopian world of Robocops and Terminators. It didn’t happen but I fully expect that to change this year.

Drones really did ‘take off’ last year though (see what I did there?). They came in all shapes and sizes from eight-blade monsters with 4k HD cameras to mini drones that fold away and fit into your back pocket. There will inevitably be more of the same this year.

As for wearables, after the OMBra (wearable tech under garments for ladies) last year I genuinely can’t think of any other type of apparel that can be connected. So my (somewhat outlandish) prediction for 2017? We will move from outerwear to innerwear. What do I mean by that? Tech that is inserted under the skin or even in organs and sends messages to an app. Embeddables as they are being called. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too many sci-fi movies recently.


And last, but definitely by no means least, the weird and wonderful gadgets which always capture the imagination. Those quirky things you never knew you needed until they were invented. Contenders for this year’s strangest tech? Well what about the Wair? A connected scarf which filters out harmful pollutants and also provides real time air quality updates.

Or what about Orosound ? A headphone system which empowers the user with the skill of ‘selective hearing’. I don’t need that. I have got two daughters and a dog who have mastered the art of selective hearing without the need for any technology.

There you have it then – a whistle stop pre-event round up of CES. So off you go and enjoy your turkey and mince pies but don’t forgot to follow @OMD_EMEA from 2 January for live updates straight from CES.


Originally posted on M&M Global at http://mandmglobal.com/what-happens-in-vegas-a-preview-of-ces-2017/.


Living with Alexa

Amazon launched their new voice activated home assistant Alexa unit called Echo in the UK today and I have got my grubby mitts on one. So is it any good? Read on…

First of all, some basics. Echo is about 10 inches tall and looks a bit like a fat Pringles tube. It comes in 2 colours, black or white, and has the ubiquitous blue light like a LED halo around the top of the tube. Cost? £150. Unless you pre-ordered on Amazon Prime a few weeks ago (like yours truly) and got it for £99. It has a series of 7 nifty built-in microphones that use a technology called ‘Far-Field Voice Recognition’. I’ve no idea how it works but all that I can tell you that it really does work from quite far afield and even when it’s playing music. The set-up was an absolute doddle. Just download the compatible app, follow the instructions et voila it’s all connected in less than a minute.


So what exactly does it do?

At its most basic, it’s a decent quality Bluetooth speaker. But, Echo’s party trick is that it links to your home wi-fi network to become a voice activated virtual assistant called Alexa, enabling you to access information straight from the internet plus control compatible smart devices in your home just by using voice commands.

You wake up the device simply by saying ‘Alexa’ and the cool circle of blue light immediately illuminates. You then just add a request. Such as? Well, pretty much anything. Like what’s the weather going to be like today? What time does the Celtic vs Manchester City game kick off tonight? Does my bum look big in these jeans? Alexa answered the first two questions instantaneously, but was rather flummoxed by the final query and responded with “I’m not sure I understand what you mean”. Maybe she was just being polite?

Beyond just answering my pointless questions, Alexa is a pretty smart lady. Want to play your favourite playlist from Spotify? Easy. Just ask her to shuffle your ’80’s Rock Tunes’ and she dutifully complies. Add a 6 pack of toilet rolls onto your shopping list? Done. Sync a meeting with your Google Calendar? Just ask.

And now we are really getting started with her skills.

It seems that Alexa can also control any connected devices in your home such as your central heating, lighting, plugs, door locks or electrical appliances. Now you will need to upgrade your infrastructure with one of the many systems available on the market right now (whether that be NestPhillips HueSamsung SmartThings etc.). I haven’t actually got any of these systems in place as yet so I can’t tell you with any surety if they are worth the investment or whether they work well, but give me a few weeks and I will let you know…

It seems that Alexa is also continually learning and adding new skills to her ever-expanding repertoire. She can already detect different voices and can be trained to understand different regional accents (she quickly learned my Mancunian twang). And on the horizon? You will be able to order a huge range of goods and services directly from Alexa just by asking her. Alexa will even remember what you have ordered previously and remind you if you need to replenish. The e-commerce possibilities are endless.

After just a few hours of playing around with the Echo, are there any faults? So far, there appears to be just the one. Our youngest daughter is called Alexa. This gets very confusing when we are admonishing her for not eating her greens and they simultaneously reply “I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

Want more information? Feel free to contact us at [email protected]

Dmexco 2016 – This time, it’s personal

The annual tech and innovation fest gets under way in Cologne this week. This year’s tantalising premise is that, “Digital is everything — not every thing is digital.” Why? Because digital marketing is about to get personal.

Cologne, Germany
Click this image to find out more about Dmexco.

In recent years there has been the perennial focus on smart data, the internet of things and convergence. But, this year the ‘tip of the spear’ will be about people-based marketing. As all forms of communication become increasingly addressable the undeniable truth is that we now have the capability to reach people on a one-to-one basis and that represents an opportunity to speak to consumers in an eminently personalised fashion.

Delivering relevant messages to an individual based on registered user data, on a specific identifiable device and doing all that at scale, basically, means that marketing will evolve beyond all recognition over the next decade. From ‘marketing to the many’ to the ‘marketing of the individual’ will virtually eradicate wastage and revolutionise the way we interact with consumers and augment their online experiences. All sounds very ‘Minority Report’ doesn’t it?

Since the advent and meteoric rise of programmatic over the past few years, we have used technology to reach consumers much more efficiently. However maybe, as an industry, we didn’t focus enough on how effective the messaging could be by harnessing the power of personalisation.

Research from Adobe suggests that some marketers already believe they understand the role of personalisation in the buying process – according to their numbers, around 83% of retail marketers think they do a decent job in personalising experiences for consumers. Conversely, consumers clearly don’t agree, as only 29% of them feel that retailers effectively offer them personalised content or offers. Patently there is a disturbing disparity between client perception and customer reality.


No one would argue that technology could ever really replace the prominence of real world experiences and the need to truly understand consumer need states and motivations. But, as the event organisers put it:

“Even though there are still some things in consumers’ lives that do not look digital at first glance and perhaps may never become digital, we are convinced that everything — including the relationship between consumers and brands — can be further improved through digitisation”.

So, if the solution lies in the enhancement of the online experience to make it more idiosyncratic and engaging for the consumer then that begs another question – how do marketers achieve that enhanced experience?

The answer is to make the experiences more powerful, consistent, sustainable and meaningful. The research is clear that Gen Y consumers prefer experiences to possessions and actually want brands to interact with them. In fact, according to Google, 16% of them actually want you to provide decent content so that they can share it with their friends.

Of course, there are already some excellent examples of clients who are already adopting a more customised approach to delivering personalised content to their consumers. For example, starting in Denmark, McDonald’s have begun the move away from pure demographics and started focusing on behaviour and needs in order to become much more relevant and targeted. They have adapted their marketing to highlight every single moment in a customer’s daily media usage and apply a ‘My McDonald’s’ strategy instead of a ‘Mass McDonald’s’ approach delivering dynamic creative messages at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform.

The point is that although there are some pockets of excellence around the globe, the reality is that many marketers haven’t yet embarked upon this kind of transformational journey towards enhanced personal online experiences. A panel moderated by Adweek will debate this very topic featuring speakers from IBM, Publicis and OMD entitled ‘Changing Marketing Agency Landscape: Building the most rewarding customer experiences‘. It may well prove to be a rallying cry for the industry and a catalyst for accelerated adoption of personalisation.


To conclude, I decided to garner the opinion of a leading marketer from one of the world’s biggest advertisers. Bastien Schupp, vice president of global marketing communications at Groupe Renault, made it very clear that agencies and marketers who fail to react positively to this paradigm shift will be the ones who ultimately lose out.

Communicating with individuals is undoubtedly the single biggest challenge ahead of us. The transformation of the creative and media buying processes will profoundly disrupt the way we do marketing. Getting big agency and client organisations to adapt to this change will define who stays in the game.”

The message is simple and somewhat stark. Personalise or die.

This article was originally posted on M&M Global.

If you don’t evolve, you dissolve

Talent. The biggest issue facing agencies and clients alike. So it wasn’t a huge surprise to see why it was such a common theme running through many of the key presentations at the Cannes Lions so far this week.

First, I went to watch Ryan Seacrest interview Usher, courtesy of iHeartRadio, at the Lumiere theatre at the Palais expecting to hear the usual chatter about music and money (as we heard a few years back with Kanye West) but was pleasantly surprised to witness themes of nurturing talent, mentoring and philanthropy. Usher was smart, articulate, amusing and incredibly humble (the complete antithesis of the aforementioned West). He talked about how he developed his own prodigious talent through a series of failures, which ultimately became the catalyst for his own success. His advice? “Lean into it, fail fast and get up like a winner”. And at the same he was keen to pass on the message to the auditorium that one should always “be benevolent in your pursuit of success”.


He went on to talk about how constant change was the only way to keep developing whatever talent you may have. Or, as he so eloquently put it:“If you don’t evolve, you dissolve”. Wise words.

And that same sentiment was echoed at the OMD Oasis in the ‘Purpose Driven Brands’ session fronted by the likes of The Guardian, PepsiCo, Impossible Labs and P&G. The panel discussed the ‘war for talent’ and those: “Spiky, irreverent 27-year-olds who understand mobile and video”.

Arguably a much better description than that horrid catchall of a ‘millennial’. So what were the three pieces of advice offered by the various members of the panel?

  • They will interview you, not the other way around. The best talent wants to work for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
  • Accept that they will leave. Probably within a year. Just aim to get the best out of them in that time.
  • You need to understand what your personal and company purpose is. They need to be inspired by it and by you. If they aren’t, they will never join you.

And finally, we had a session hosted by JD Heyman from People magazine who interviewed Gwyneth Paltrow. Gwyneth confirmed that she is done with acting for now and is focused on her e-commerce business, Goop.


Gwyneth talked about how her new venture, an online foray into skincare, apparel, homeware and expensive dildo’s (her words not mine). She was very honest about how Goop has become the biggest challenge of her life. Her acting has only been a “platform” for Goop and her new role as Chief Creative Officer has been the most “difficult but enthralling period” of her life. She covered similar themes to Usher when she discussed the need to be authentic and true to your beliefs – plus she has the same expectations of the people who work with her.

So what have we learned? Well, talent is a precious commodity, difficult to attract, arduous to cultivate and almost impossible to retain. Tough gig. Any takers?


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