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Corning Life Sciences Shows It's for the Birds

Laboratory Equipment Unit Goes for Laughs in Digital Effort

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Corning Life Sciences is hoping a dose of humor can generate some enthusiasm for its Falcon-branded lab equipment.

Widely used in laboratories, the brand is battling the perception that its products are common commodities. In response, agency PJA Advertising + Marketing created the tagline "Every Lab Needs a Falcon" and a digital ad spot that features a live falcon distracting lab technicians.

"Scientists are coming to believe that some laboratory consumable products, such as pipettes or centrifuge tubes -- which are Falcon's core product offerings -- are pure commodity and that one vendor is delivering as much value as any other," said Joanna Allen, Global Marketing and Communications Manager, Corning Life Sciences. "We wanted to stand out and remind researchers of the benefits and differentiating factors that the Falcon brand can offer, from manufacturing excellence, to product design, to reliability, and, of course, quality."

In October 2012 Corning completed the acquisition of the majority of Beckton Dickenson's Discovery Labware business. The Discovery Labware brands included Falcon, BioCoat, and Matrigel, with Corning touting Falcon as its top seller. Corning, however, found there was a low level of awareness for that brand, Ms. Allen said. The company was also starting to feel pressure from lower government funding for research, which led customers to consider cheaper brands.

Corning had to warm up to the idea of using the live falcon, according to Aaron DaSilva, PJA's executive creative director. Ms. Allen also noted that when Corning saw the final product it became "very excited" about the work.

"It is a clever blend of humor and serious message. It manages to communicate the important messages around our attributes but deliver them in a way that engages the viewer, elicits a positive response and hopefully motivates them to share the content with friends and colleagues," said Ms. Allen. "Moving away from a corporate-style video to one that our customers can relate to their everyday work is a big step for us, but one we wanted to make to demonstrate that we are in-tune with our customers, and, ultimately, to help build brand loyalty."

The logistics of the ad were a challenge: dealing with wildlife, hiring local actors, creating the set, and doing all of the work with a "limited budget," according to Mr. DaSilva. He said a member of his creative team had just seen the movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," -- in which Ben Stiller's character appears early in the film with a "poetry falcon" on his arm -- and suggested they contact the animal handler. After some research, the agency was able to connect with the falcon wrangler who worked on the movie and the video was shot in just under a day, with some minor difficulties.

"There was one scene where the falcon comes out of the box and actor we used was not initially comfortable. That take took a while to do, but other than that everything went fairly smooth," said Mr. DaSilva.

The digital video was recently posted to the Corning Life Sciences YouTube channel as well as on a new microsite. There is also a planned global media buy using web banners on "targeted sites," including local language versions for China, Korea, Germany and Spain. The campaign imagery and video will be used extensively by Corning Life Science's authorized dealers in their own marketing communications.

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