When Marty McFly uses your guitar to introduce the world to rock 'n' roll and "Johnny B. Goode," your marketing department is pretty much set forever. So when it's your 120th anniversary, and you're at CES 2014, a place where a replica Back to The Future DeLorean is basically a celebrity, there's really only one thing Gibson could do. Get a DeLorean, get Christopher Lloyd to get out of it (apparently Michael J. Fox was otherwise engaged) and play the same ES-345 guitar Marty used to scandalize the Hill Valley High School crowd in 1955, and watch the money pile up.
Just for good measure, maybe also get someone to hand Dr. Emmett Brown a blue set of Google Glass. Welcome to CES 2014.
Gibson's booth is just outside the Verge trailer, next to the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. After crating in palette after palette of electric guitars, Monday night was the beginning of an evening ritual: deafening concerts for the many middle-aged businessmen who populate CES every year. (Tonight, it's Huey Lewis and the News covers.) But on Tuesday morning, with only the bottom of a DeLorean peeking out of the bottom of a cover, a different kind of buzz started. And at 4PM, Lloyd showed up, took a lap in the car (which, since it doesn't drive itself and probably can't even drift, is now incredibly out of date), and spent a few minutes pretending he played the guitar. Then he, the time-travel-discovering Emmett Brown, fumbled around with Google Glass as he took a set from someone in the crowd. His concert was brief, but crowded, and Doc Brown quickly became a story at CES.
It was all part of an elaborate event from Gibson, during which Lloyd “traveled back” to 1894 to see Gibson's very first guitars (some now worth millions of dollars). Because at CES, everything is a marketing gimmick. But unlike bringing Michael Bay up to talk about your curved TVs or asking Shaq to hawk your HDMI cables, bringing out the Back to the Future gang is awesome.
But we missed Biff Tannen.
Photography by Michael Shane