Tech brands get creative with social media during CES 2018 blackout

Power outage at one of the world's largest technology and electronics shows triggers flurry of brand engagement via Twitter

Technology brands including Intel and IBM have been quick to jump into the social conversation with a tongue-in-cheek brand approach after a blackout struck the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The blackout in the Las Vegas Convention Centre’s Central and South Hall bridge meeting rooms occurred at approximately 11.13am local (Pacific) time on the second day of the show. While power within the South Hall was restored minutes later, it took two hours to fully restore power in the Central Hall, with conference organisers confirming on Twitter at 1.09pm that power was slowly being rolled out in the Central Hall.

In a statement, CES organiser, the Consumer Technology Association, blamed the outage on recent heavy rainfall which caused condensation on the venue’s roof to short circuit one of the facility’s transformers.

“A preliminary assessment indicates that condensation from heavy rainfall caused a flashover on one of the facility's transformers,” the statement read. “We are grateful to NV Energy for their swift assistance, to our customers and their clients for their patience and to the staff for ensuring the safety and security of all attendees and exhibitors.”

Many attendees and technology journalists were quick to point out the irony of one of the world’s largest technology electronics showcases without power. One attendee, Bert Kaufman, head of corporate affairs and regulatory at robotics company Zoox, summed it up on Twitter: 

“The power has gone out in the central hall at CES… sending thousands of attendees out of the LVCC, shutting down hundreds of expensive marketing activations and reminding us that none of this stuff works without electricity,” he tweeted.  

Another attendee, Derek Kerton, asked which brands were going to make the most of the blackout opportunity on their stands, and compared the situation to the blackout during the US Super Bowl. Oreo’s quick and clever response on Twitter, ‘Power out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark’, continues to be heralded by many as a great example of real-time social media engagement.

Technology brands including Intel, IBM, ISPN and Texas Instruments were quick to jump onto the #CESblackout hashtag, with many taking a cheeky communications approach to the situation. Here are some of the highlights

Intel, for example, suggested the blackout was the biggest thing to hit the CES show since 5G: 


IBM took the opportunity to highlight its artificial intelligence offering, IBM Watson:

ISPN was arguably, however, the funniest:

And there were plenty more:


This year’s CES is expected to attract more than 180,000 visitors, has 4000 exhibitors and runs from 9 to 12 January 2018.

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