Epson changes agency, sticks with creative

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Epson America's upcoming magazine ad campaign from new shop DDB Needham Worldwide looks remarkably like the work from former agency Ammirati Puris Lintas--by design.

Epson and Ammirati split in October over what Jeffrey Marks, director of marketing communications, at the time said were compensation issues, "philosophical areas of disagreement" and difficulties in maintaining a long-distance relationship between Epson in southern California and the agency in New York.

But Epson loved the work. So DDB Needham's Los Angeles office--which Mr. Marks said won the estimated $20 million account in February based in part on a strong creative pitch--promptly hired the Ammirati creative team, copywriter Philip Nicholas and art director Ralph Palamidessi. They are two of the 16 new staffers brought in to work on Epson.

After hiring DDB Needham, the inkjet-printer marketer tested the old campaign and found it to be "the strongest in the history of Epson America in terms of overall awareness and recall," Mr. Marks said. "This has been a very, very successful campaign for us."

So it was a no-brainer to build on the advertising and keep the tagline, "You've got to see it in Epson color."

The new campaign, breaking in September issues of computer and business magazines, extends the creative approach of print ads that have images with unexpected twists intended to surprise and engage the reader.

For example, one of three ads in the works appears to show a Monetesque image of a brook with water lilies and a bridge. Copy explains it's really an image made of cucumbers, lettuce and other veggies. Message: Epson printers are so precise that no detail escapes them. The campaign pushes Epson's position of offering superior image quality.

In addition to the national magazine ads, Epson may run radio and newspaper ads in tactical bursts in the fourth quarter, following a strategy used last year.

Epson plans minimal Web banner advertising, via DigitalFacades Corp., Santa Monica, Calif.

Epson last year doubled its shipments to 1.9 million inkjet printers, boosting its market share to 16.4% from 9.5%, according to Dataquest. Epson surpassed Canon Computer Systems in this year's first quarter to take the No. 2 slot behind Hewlett-Packard Co.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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