Audi first decided to present at the Consumer Electronics Show eight years ago, and was the first auto manufacturer to do so. This year at the show the entire North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center was dedicated to automotive, with many brands choosing to exhibit there over the flagship US auto show in Detroit. Since day one, Audi’s presence at CES has stood out with thoughtful and cutting-edge design, not just a presentation of their technology innovations. In 2019, the brand once again delivered a design-forward space—from its arching, upward build to its glistening LED display—that attracted considerable attention.
While it’s reasonable to believe that a product can be the focal point of an exhibit, dividing a brand’s efforts into the bigger display and the deeper dive can be rewarding for even the uninterested visitor. That’s what Audi did so well, we believe. In speaking with their head of experiential marketing, Bernhard Neumann, we learned a bit more about their approach, and their booth.
“The idea of this booth is following very strictly on what our content briefing was. The main idea of this booth, or our appearance, this year is from driving experience to experience driving—meaning that it was all about cars in the past. It’s now getting more and more about the software and about additional experiences,” Neumann says.
“And so we came up with the idea of this, a little bit inspired by a high line that you can walk in. You go up and up and with your journey the content rises from the atrium—a presentation space on the first level—to the upper levels, up to the Aicon [concept car]. This is what we can experience here, first the atrium and up until the very future—from driving experience to experience.”
This journey upward stood out amongst the incredibly linear booths around it. There were exhibitions that drew eyes upward, but they were few and far between. Here, not only did your eyes move but you did, too.
“The idea came very fast for a very easy reason: we have a tiny booth. It’s only 550 square meters. When we collected all the ideas, it was pretty clear from early on that we had to be very careful with our space. What happens then is what happens in every city—you go high. Then we came up with the idea of doing a journey, doing a high line to even gain a bit more space,” he says.
Even from across the hall, the Audi booth was identifiable—whether it was the glowing, dangling LEDs or the crisp Audi logo. It stood, differentiating itself from the convention center floor—it resembled a building rather than a booth.
The LED lights that surrounded the interior stadium displayed messages, changed colors and accompanied presentations. “Why not follow a techie approach, why not be even more sophisticated—using LED technology, which is very common in consumer electronics? You can use an LED for not only creating a space but for a communication tool,” he says.
We’ve always regarded Audi’s booth to be the best designed at CES and asked Neumann which has been his favorite. “Honestly I’m quite proud of every year because every year it was a challenge to do it differently. You know how easy it is to decide, ‘OK we did it. It worked out. Let’s do it again.’ That’s never our intention, never how I approach,” he says. Constantly reinventing and reimagining is part of what makes Audi such a design-forward brand.
Images by Josh Rubin