Panasonic executives keynoting CES were having a tough time selling their message of putting "people over products" until Newark Mayor Cory Booker showed up.
He also introduced Tim Vanderhook, CEO of Specific Media, whose company is partnering with Panasonic to add a suite of interactive and "smart, intelligent, friendly, easy-to-use" features to the familiar living room flat screen to make it behave more like a touchscreen smartphone or tablet, and to communicate with other devices.
But Tsuga hurried through the TV stuff as quickly as possible, aware of the Warhol Effect on the next big thing in TV technology: Whatever is hot today will be either copied or one-upped by another consumer electronics company within 15 minutes -- or sooner, inevitably eliciting from consumers little more than a yawn.
As he developed his "better world" theme, Tsuga offered the CES audience a rolling canvas of the vast reach of Panasonic's business.
Under the rubrics of "Your Home" and "Your Car," the Panasonic chief described his company's development of solar panels and solar energy storage devices, energy capture for both home and automobile, hydrogen fuel cells and collaborations with General Motors on in-car entertainment and communications technology and with Tesla Motors on electric car innovation.
Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe joined Tsuga to document Panasonic's role in in-flight entertainment and communications, which will include in-flight Internet connections, e-mail and other earthbound resources.
But Tsuga was scrupulous in winding up his presentation with the theme, "Your Community." Tsuga suggested that attention to community concerns goes beyond traditional "corporate responsibility" efforts to help the towns and cities where the company's facilities are located.
As a Japanese company expected to provide its employees with a number of lifelong social services, Panasonic has a highly evolved sense of community. Tsuga cited Panasonic's current involvement in the creation of a "sustainable, smart town" in Fujisawa, Japan, "a city that integrates a whole range of solutions to create, store and use energy on a grand scale" with very little dependence on the existing power grid.
Finally, with the surprise appearance of Mayor Booker, and his effusive praise of Panasonic's part in inspiring hope in Newark, one of the nation's most depressed urban areas, Tsuga's "better world" message became both clear and compelling. Booker referred to Panasonic's policies as "a call [to corporations] to moral consciousness," and an effort to "make the dream bigger" for everyone.