It’s a good thing most industry members like Las Vegas, because they’ll be spending a lot of time there in the next few weeks. This year’s CES takes place in Las Vegas from January 7-10, 2008, while PMA (84th annual), also in Las Vegas, opens its doors January 31-February 2 (Super Bowl weekend). Typically, there’s a little more time to recover between shows, but this year attendees and exhibitors may find themselves suffering from trade show overload. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new products and services will debut at both shows, and everyone will be looking for—and hoping to capitalize on—”the next big thing.”
According to CES organizers, attendees can expect a new Digital Imaging Showcase and an event hosted by both CEA and Picture Business dubbed Spotlight on Imaging. For those who feel imaging gets lost among the HDTV’s, X-Boxes, cell phones and other electronic gadgets, the showcase and Spotlight will be welcome additions. “Digital imaging is a huge category for CES,” states Sarah Szabo, PR Manager, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). “We actually consider it one of our main product categories at the show. And this year we’ll have a dedicated Digital Imaging Showcase on the show floor. It’s one of our key attractions and we’re promoting it all over. I think it’s a huge plug for the entire digital imaging category,” she reiterates. “And the Spotlight on Imaging event set for the second day of the show will give digital imaging manufacturers and retailers a one-stop location (Renaissance Hotel) to check out some of the latest DI products at the show.”
Szabo added, “Also, what we saw a lot at the 2007 show and will see again in 2008 is a convergence of all of these new technologies and services. I think digital imaging specifically ties into that because we’re seeing digital imaging technology built into all these portable compact devices that are seen not only in the digital imaging hall, but throughout the entire show floor. Personally, I think what CES brings to the digital imaging category is the fact that you can see digital imaging technology across a wide range of products where the technologies are intertwined. With PMA, you’re seeing just the digital imaging category, plus kiosks, photo frames, and other accessories that are not necessarily showcased at CES.”
Fred Towns, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing Operations, New Age, notes that the digital capture product has really become a good growth category for companies such as Panasonic, Sony and Samsung. “I think if it’s not just a camera-centric company you will see a lot of attention paid toward the digital story and how it now works with other products,” states Towns. “Even at PMA you’ll see much greater use of plasma TVs, etc., in trying to showcase the end product.
“There is a natural synergy between the shows evolving more and more,” continues Towns. “The whole world of digital has brought both of these worlds much closer in how they’re trying to tell the story. PMA is a little more detailed in that it dives a little deeper into focusing on how the product works and can help in a business, etc. PMA may be broader with accessories and software that cater more to the needs of the professional user with more attention placed on the use of Photoshop and calibrated monitors, etc. At CES you’ll understand the eco-system environment where all these systems and products interconnect, but you may not see as deep a dive once you’ve entered into this digital world.”
DI Exhibitors Speak Out
Though CES is first and foremost an electronics show, many imaging companies say being there has its rewards. “As CES is the most influential consumer electronics show in the country (focused on innovation) it is a very good place for imaging companies to show products,” states a Sony spokesperson. “We do not think our product news gets lost, especially today when imaging products have synergies with other product categories like television. For many years now we have debuted our camcorder line at CES with a great deal of attention from the media, which is positive for us. It seems that more manufacturers are debuting products at CES. Sony’s digital imaging presence will continue to be strong (at the show).”
Although Olympus does not exhibit product on the show floor, the company uses the opportunity to meet with attendees. “Olympus leverages CES from a meeting standpoint as many dealers and journalists are in attendance,” states Jennifer Lyons, PR Manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “We have meeting space on the show floor for this purpose.”
Pentax also capitalizes on CES’ show-goers. “There is no other venue in the United States where Pentax may be exposed to such a wide variety of dealers and members of the press,” states John Carlson, Product Manager, Pentax. “In fact, because it is a ‘one-stop shop’ for the electronics industry, many attendees cross over into the imaging area that might not otherwise attend an imaging exclusive event.”
“Our biggest presence is at PMA,” states Stewart Henderson, VP Marketing, Samsung. “We have a big footprint at PMA and we’re going to have more of a footprint this year than we ever have at CES. For us to have a presence at CES is extremely beneficial just from a timing perspective because this is when the major retailers are planning resets. Attendance at PMA typically runs a little bit later in the year. This year is different; but most years it’s in March, which is really too late for the first step of planning around resets for our retailers. If you look at (the show) just from a technology standpoint, people still consider digital cameras a computer peripheral in some aspects. It’s also a tech item; so why not have it at CES as well?”
Making the Most of Both Shows
Just in terms of audience, putting your brand in front of the crowd at CES is a good thing, notes CEA’s Szabo. “To my knowledge,” she says, “I believe PMA hosts between 20 to 30,000 trade attendees and CES hosts more than 140,000—and that’s across 73 countries that are represented among the attendees. We get a lot of national and regional coverage. This year NBC is doing a media partnership with CES, which means they’ll be broadcasting live from the show floor across all of their national shows. We’ve always had ABC, Good Morning America, Today, etc.”
For exhibitors that want to extend their presence at the show, be sure to post press materials on the CES web (CESweb.org and click on pressroom/exhibitor news). “We have 4,500 media that come to the show and are constantly looking at CES web for updates,” explains Szabo. “Exhibitors can post their releases on our web site and drop off their materials at the pressroom as well.”
Ted Fox, Executive Director, PMA, counters that PMA is an extremely focused, well-organized show that represents all aspects of the photography industry. “If you want to draw an analogy to the retailing market, it’s kind of the equivalent of a category killer retailer like Home Depot. It’s focused on one specific thing. Everything to do with building and building supplies and hardware, you find under one roof. Everything to do with all aspects of photography you find at PMA. Other shows have a slice of photography but they don’t cover the full breadth and scope of it the way PMA does.
“I think we each serve a purpose for our audience,” continues Fox. “At PMA there’s something you can see plus sessions that can help educate you on every aspect of photography. The week of PMA, the whole industry—both consumer and trade press—is focused on what’s going on in the photographic marketplace. You’re not trying to get your message out on your digital camera and competing with someone else’s message about the latest and greatest flat screen TV.
“We get regular coverage in USA Today and satellite feeds from the tradeshow floor. We represent the memory making industry, which includes everyone from the people who capture photos—such as the Sports Photographers Association of America and Professional School Photographers Association—to the people that frame the photos, including the Professional Picture Framers Association. I believe if you’re in this industry, there’s something for everyone at PMA.”
There are those who believe the two shows should be combined, which could save many manufacturers, dealers and retailers time and money. Samsung’s Henderson is one person that would like to see the shows run in conjunction with each other. “For a company such as Samsung,” concludes Henderson, “it would be extremely beneficial just from a financial aspect—we’re not going to be flying everything (sets, people, product) back a month later. That would be great for my budget. And then there’s the press—if it all could be done at the same time, I think everybody would like that.”