CES 2019: What You Missed in the Best Brand Activations

“You have to think about people first and technology second.” – Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder

A CNET article asked a critical question. “Who won CES 2019: Amazon or Google?”  Two reporters, each responsible for covering a contender, weighed in on the companies’ efforts to be seen as the virtual assistant of choice.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), hosted by the Consumer Technology Association, there was no missing Google, which the article dubbed “brash and over the top.” The company tripled its floorspace over that of CES 2018, with its slogan, “Hey Google,” found everywhere. On the other hand, Amazon was “subtler in approach” but no doubt present. Its people could be heard on stage and its products seen in various partner booths, as well as in its own “smaller booths than Google.” In short, the CNET reporter covering Amazon deemed the company to be “all over the place.” But there was one crucial aspect of Google’s campaign that reporter hadn’t considered – its brand ambassadors, as the other reporter pointed out. “Google had a whole army of people dressed in all white, wearing funny hats, embedded in booths across the show floor.” Attendees “couldn’t walk a few feet” without encountering a Google brand ambassador.

At this trade show, where technology is the draw, it’s no surprise the human component of a brand’s presence is often overlooked. But, make no mistake, being among the best brand activations of CES 2019 is only possible with the right people in the booth, on the floor, in the meeting room, and even on the street.

What Brand Ambassadors Bring to the Best Brand Activations

Last year at CES 2018, Google’s brand experience, like its size, was a massive success. At the show, the brand garnered 41,500 impressions and enjoyed 20,000 engagements. The activity also drove 8.6 million impressions and 173,000 engagements on social media, extending the brand’s reach. In addition to other key event staff and agency reps, these achievements were made possible by 171 brand ambassadors. It was these latter professionals who manned partner booths, conducted surveys at various points and, above all, interacted with attendees. And, to some, it may seem like an exorbitant number of people to do these jobs. But Google and its partners know the key to making a true connection with consumers is through people.

Attendees may come to CES to see the latest gadgets. But it won’t be what they remember most. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research reports 80% of what they’ll retain is their interaction with the people in your booth. It’s brand ambassadors who will greet them, guide them through the demo or other activity, and answer their questions. So, while the product and the experience must bring the wow factor or offer great value, so, too, must event staff.


A Few of the Best Brand Activations of CES 2019 and The Human Factor

Discover how the best brand ambassadors contributed to these top brand activations of CES 2019.

Impossible Foods.

CES doesn’t seem a likely occasion to launch a new food, particularly one that’s a hard sell. But, for Impossible Foods, it turned out to be the perfect time and place. Its latest product, the Impossible Burger 2.0, took home some of CES’s top honors, including “Most Impactful Product” and “Best of the Best.” The climb to get there included a media party and tasting event. But perhaps, the attendees who took the most convincing to try the plant-based meat were the unsuspecting passersby of its food truck parked outside the convention center.

Brand ambassadors had the goal of serving at least 12,000 product samples. So, some wielded trays and others stood near the truck. No matter which, the job was to answer questions, overcome objections, and get the product into attendees’ hands, helping the company bring home all its wins.

American Express.

It may seem like another unlikely brand for CES 2019 set up outside the convention center – American Express. And while it doesn’t have a tech offering, it’s probable many CES attendees are using American Express cards – or those of competitors – to foot the bills of their Las Vegas trip. A company rep told Event Marketer the goal is “to engage people on their terms.” The brand wants to be a partner in consumers’ personal and business lives. So, it used this brand activation to showcase its history in doing so with a nostalgic service station as its backdrop.

Brand ambassadors greeted visitors at “gas pumps” and assigned them a colored wristband to indicate whether they were a current cardholder. For those who were, the wristband gave them access to special swag, though all visitors could enjoy the space to unwind, eat cookies, and even get a professional headshot. Back inside the convention center, cardmembers could stop at other “service stations” for perks. These included hand massages or hair and makeup retouching, which called for brand ambassadors with special skills to provide the special touch the brand desired.


Reports from CES 2019 paint a doomed portrait for the future of virtual reality. But nothing could be further from the truth. While the technology may not have been as present on the show floor as in recent years, exciting things were happening behind the scenes. This was the case for Facebook and its new Oculus Quest headset at least.

Oculus-trained brand ambassadors welcomed invited guests and the media to a hotel room, where they assisted with exclusive VR demos. And, their efforts worked. A CNET reporter wrote, “I saw nothing else as exciting as the Quest at the whole show. It won my personal best in show in Las Vegas without officially setting foot on the convention floor.” And, Raymond Wong with Mashable tweeted, “This is the VR headset we’ve all been waiting for.” Their testimonials and others prove a brand experience well done and with no fuss – only using people and the technology.


There was something for everyone in Nikon’s booth on the CES floor. In one area, product specialists were on-hand to give product demos and answer questions. And, photography experts and Nikon brand ambassadors gave helpful presentations and took part in panel sessions designed to inspire creativity. While in another area, brand ambassadors helped visitors blow off some steam with brand-relevant activities, such as photo ops in a ball pit or a small pool filled with rubber ducks. They could also be seen on Instagram dancing with attendees in front of a high-speed camera robot. Nikon’s brand activation shows the diverse applications of brand ambassadors and demonstrates the importance of their hiring and screening to meet specific goals that put your consumers first.

At Elevate, people always come first. Let us take the guesswork out of finding the best brand ambassadors and other event staff for your best brand activations.

Author: Nick Riggall


Why Event Marketing Leads to Customers, Not Just Sales (Elevate Connect)


Event Spotlight: Next Feel Good Gym

Request a proposal.
Request a proposal.

1st Floor
27 – 33 Bethnal Green Rd

+44 (0)207 183 0303



600 N Brand, #520,
Glendale, Los Angeles,
CA , 91203

+1 424 250 6156



Stubenrauchstr. 72
D-12161 Berlin

+49 (0) 30 30 30 71 56



7 rue de Madrid
75008 Paris



Suite 3.01, Level 3/51-55 , Mountain St.
Ultimo NSW 2007,




Gertrude-Fröhlich-Sandner Strasse 2
1100 Wien

+43 1205190 7200


/* #5260116 - fix-2 */