Around the world, many companies are preparing to close out the year, but for HARMAN, it’s time to head to Las Vegas once again for the biggest-ever activation
at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Without a doubt, the technology industry begins the year every January in Sin City, gathering technology pioneers and disruptors who thrive on improving technologies for all, including businesses, automakers, and consumers.
To get a behind-the-scenes look at how HARMAN’s presence at the most prominent technology event has evolved over the years, we caught up with veteran CES-Program Head and Senior Director of Marketing for Lifestyle at HARMAN, Christopher Dragon.
Q) HARMAN’s presence at CES gets bigger every year. Tell us about how the CES production process, and how it has evolved over the years.
Chris Dragon: This will be my 32nd year at CES, and my 24th year with HARMAN. My role at CES has varied, but I’m humbled to say that I’ve been responsible for driving the execution of the entire program for HARMAN over the last several years.
From having multiple booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), to now boasting an exclusive 28,000+ sq. ft. showcase located at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, it’s pretty incredible to see how our presence has evolved. When our showcases were located at the LVCC ending in 2013, HARMAN demonstrated only lifestyle audio products, but many times included vehicles with our branded audio systems. HARMAN’s CES presence on the show floor took on varying configurations dating clear back to the first CES show in 1967. Towards the latter years of exhibiting at the LVCC, we centralized our consumer audio business by demonstrating all of HARMAN’s admired audio brands together in one large area. From futuristic vehicles and remarkable in-cabin tech with OEMs like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Toyota, Dodge, Jeep and others - HARMAN continued to take the spotlight at each show and won best exhibit at CES numerous times.
With the evolution of CES including automakers not only using CES as an opportunity to get ideas to their taking a proactive role in the show, Harman decided to make a disruptive move and decided to exit the show floor and develop a single, “One Harman” experience that incorporates all four of our business verticals in a single showcase.
Q) The HARMAN Showcase is at the Hard Rock, and is invite only. How did those two components become a part of the strategy each year?
C.D.: We strategically chose moving our showcase from the LVCC show floor to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for a few key reasons. We required a single location that could provide the exhibit space to showcase all of Harman, had available lodging for staff, customer and media, offered a nice selection of restaurants and also had an onsite concert ready performance venue. The options in Las Vegas for a Venue like this are more limited than you would think. That said, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was a natural based on our deep roots in music and performance as well as checking all of the boxes. I would be remiss if I did not mention that they have been an amazing partner.
Q) With so many different priorities at HARMAN – automotive, lifestyle audio, professional audio, luxury, and more – how does you and your team fit it all in?
C.D.: Moving HARMAN’s showcase offsite from the LVCC has allowed us schedule and appropriately staff for each and every appointment. Our presentations in many areas are timed, scripted and follow a specific traffic path. Plus, many of our consumer audio demos take place in meticulously engineered listening spaces with a specific number of occupants required to provide a meaningful demo. We’ve found great benefits in this ‘appointment’ only approach and it provides the best possible experience for our guests as this is our priority.
Q) What else should our followers know ahead of CES 2020?
C.D.: We’re gearing up for our biggest activation yet – I can promise that our followers do not want to miss this! I recommend they mark their calendars for the week of January 6th and prepare themselves for HARMAN’s show-stopping reveal of technologies that are redefining how consumers connect to the world around them. We are even rolling our products in a new category on the consumer side of our business. No I am not going to spoil the surprise.
HARMAN is preparing for its biggest showcase at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at CES 2020. Keep a close eye on our newsroom, especially from January 6th to 9th 2020, to experience the next-generation products, technologies and solutions we’ll be announcing across the audio, automotive, enterprise and consumer landscape.