CES. Often ridiculed as just an excuse for tech porn and drunk bloggers and journalists. However this year so far the biggest talking point isn’t a talking fridge or (yet) another hi-def TV but the godawful and uber cringeworthy opening keynote by Qualcomm CEO, Dr Paul Jacobs. Here was a shining example of just how out of touch tech marketing and PR can be. It seemed to be a night of trying to invent new terms for the sake of trying to appear hip and ‘with it’, a brief run down below may make you reach for the sick bag….

  • We are now ‘Generation M’, Born Mobile and expected to fall into three ‘hip’ categories
  • Every teenager refers to their mobile phone as their ‘conference room’
  • It’s no longer the Internet of Things, it’s the Internet of Everything

To make matters much, much worse, the PR disaster wagon steamrolled on with a clearly graphic clip from Blade 2 and an outsourcing skit with Big Bird with racial overtones (note: Big Bird was not harmed by any vampire in the making of this keynote). The final insult was the appearance of Maroon 5 live on stage. Not that the band was the insult, no, the insult came to those watching the live stream online who couldn’t hear the performance (presumably due to licencing issues) and were treated to Dido instead until the feed was killed completely.

This is not only PR and marketing at it’s finest but also just how badly a CEO understands the audience and today’s demographics of the products he sells. Admittedly he’s fed this from his marketing team but in all seriousness someone needs to get fired not congratulated for making the CEO look a complete tit (unless that was the intention all along). It raised the profile of the company for sure, just not in the way Paul expected.

Having worked with many companies in my career there is a glut of both senior stakeholders who have absolutely no clue about how marketing and new media works today or just what the consumer landscape looks like in the 21st century, never mind the 20th, and also a proliferation of ‘social media experts’ and digital agencies who have no clue about marketing and product strategy beyond running a Twitter and Facebook account. It’s been reported that there are 181,000 social media ‘gurus’, ‘ninjas’ and ‘mavens’ listed on Twitter. Anyone who is actually worth what they do for a living doesn’t need to call themselves that but if it helps you get hired at Qualcomm go for it.

Perhaps Paul should call himself the Sensei of Qualcomm. And why not, might as well invent another term to go along with the others his marketing team did this week.