NEW HDTV AD CAMPAIGN AIMS AT OLYMPICS VIEWERS

Panasonic and Cable Operators Push High-Definition Products

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Aiming at the potential audience for the first Olympic Games broadcast in high definition, Panasonic and a group of 10 cable companies are banding together in a $10 million advertising campaign to "Make It a Hi-Def Summer."

Bucking the typical consumer electronics trend of advertising during the winter holiday season, the group is launching its high-definition push in early July to run through August. The ads detail a promotion for $100 off high-definition digital cable service with the purchase of an eligible Panasonice HDTV set or monitor.

85% of cable customers
The cable companies involved in the summer promotion account for 85% of U.S. customers and are part of an "OnlyCableCan" initiative led by the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing. The association includes Adelphia Communications, Cablevision Systems Corp., Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable.

The Panasonic joint effort is the second time the cable associations has teamed with a consumer electronics company for a major advertising campaign. An earlier effort in March paired the coalition with Samsung in an effort to get viewers to tune into the National Collegiate Athletic Association college basketball tournament with HDTV, and included a promotional discount as well.

The complete coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, from Aug. 11-29, will be available in high definition.

Worldwide event
"It makes sense to promote HD products and services around times that are relevant to TV viewers. And we just happen to be a worldwide Olympic sponsor," said Gene Kelsey, vice president of Panasonic's brand strategy group. "The Olympics is a nice opportunity because it's a big event that's attractive to both males and females."

Another reason for the push is the anticipated growth of digital TV. Sales of digital TVs are expected to skyrocket this year by 50%, with an estimated 6 million units moving off the shelves, up from 4 million units sold in 2003, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. Total digital TV sales should account for about $2.5 billion this year.

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