LAS VEGAS -- Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynoter Kazuhiro Tsuga, president of Panasonic Corp., had the unenviable challenge on convincing 3,000 profiteers gathered here Tuesday (Jan. 8) that environmental sustainability and concern for "people over products" is good business policy. He was having a hard time selling this message to his skeptical audience until he got a boost from a political star, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Booker, who is on many short lists as a future presidential candidate, told the CES crowd that Panasonic's risky decision to move its North American headquarters to northern New Jersey was instrumental in an economic boom for Newark unprecedented since the 1950's. He also said it was good for Panasonic's bottom line, largely due to energy savings based on Panasonic's own technologies, built into a new corporate high-rise.
Citing the construction of an energy-saving building in the inner city, coupled with an upgrade in mass transit to ferry Panasonic employees to their new "green" workplace, Booker called the city's Japanese corporate partner "a harbinger of hope." He said, "You have transformed my metaphor. I am hope unhinged!"
Newark Mayor Cory Booker (left) and Panasonic's North American CEO, Joe Taylor .
Joe Taylor, Panasonic's North American CEO, called the Newark project "an opportunity to express our company's core values and help the city."
Booker responded, "You guys have renewed the power of belief, that impossible things can become possible."
Tsuga's keynote address was an extended argument for corporate responsibility based on environmental sensitivity, community involvement and customer service as a good way for a big company "to make the world we live in better." It was also a clear effort by Tsuga to re-brand Panasonic as more than just a television manufacturer.
Of course, there were a few TVs on display on the CES stage with Tsuga, including a lightweight (27 pounds) razor-thin (half-inch) ultra-HD large screen (56 inches) model billed as the "world's first 4K OLED television", and a 4K high definition tablet twice the size (20 inches) of conventional tablets.