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Motorola Puts Some High-Tech Into Its Old-Media Ad Plan For Moto X

New Print Ad in Wired Magazine Changes Colors When Buttons Are Pressed

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For a high-tech product, Motorola has relied heavily on print to promote the Moto X. Now Motorola is putting the high-tech into print with an ad that changes colors in the January issue of Wired Magazine.

The ad will show a Moto X phone that changes colors when people press tabs lined up at the bottom of the page. It's made using polycarbonate paper that covers LED light pipes, which are illuminated via circuitry running to the color swatches.

Since introducing the Moto X in August, Motorola has backed the phone with a straightforward campaign including national TV commercials, print ads, online display units and stunts like getting it in the hands of models on Fashion Week runways in New York.

But it has also sought opportunities to play up the customization available, even with the "old," not-usually-interactive, media it is using. The company invested in outdoor this fall, for example, including ads at some bus shelters and storefronts in New York and Chicago that rendered images of the phone in colors matching the clothing of the person standing in front of it.

The ad will appear in New York and Chicago metro area editions of Wired and reach roughly 153,000 subscription and newsstand readers, according to a Motorola spokesman. Its intent is to illustrate in a basic way how consumers can go about customizing their Moto X phones, a core selling point of the device.

Motorola paid to develop and implement the ad in print, as well as for the actual media buy, but declined to reveal the total cost. Barry Smyth, Motorola's global marketing director, said that he expects the reach of the ad to be amplified through people sharing it.

"We think it'll be bigger than just the print run itself," he said. "It's going to have a lot of pass-around value and be something that people are going to show other people."

In its zeal to promote the customizable aspects of the phone, Motorola also developed a Facebook app, Moto Match, in September that renders a Moto X based on the colors in a Facebook timeline photo of the user's choosing. It hasn't been supported with Facebook ads and instead has relied on traffic from Motorola's fan base within the social network and from Twitter.

But for all the inventive marketing, early sales of the Moto X have been weak. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Motorola had sold just 500,000 of the devices in the third quarter, based on research from Strategy Analytics. Samsung, by comparison, had reported selling more than 10 million Galaxy S4 phones within its month on the market this spring.

Motorola subsequently cut the cost of the phone with a two-year carrier contract to $100 from $200. It also introduced a lower-end version of the phone, the Moto G, that's available for $179 without a contract.

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