Montana joins Samsung in behind-the-lens role

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Samsung Camera is hoping to score some points with Joe Montana, inking a 3-year contract with the former superstar quarterback to be its first-ever corporate spokesman.

"The goal is to improve the visibility of the brand," said Michael Strange, director of marketing at Samsung. He said he thinks recruiting Mr. Montana as spokesman will elevate the camera division and make it as well known among consumers as its electronics parent, Samsung Group.

"What we wanted to do is give instant recognition to the brand," he said. "[That recognition] will make it a tie-breaker on the sales floor." There, Samsung is No. 5 in unit sales in the competitive 35mm, point-and-shoot category with an 8.9% market share, behind Olympus America, Canon USA, Vivitar and Pentax Corp., respectively, according to NPD Intelect Market Tracking.

The integrated campaign, from Total Image Group, Ridgefield Park, N.J., with creative consulting from BTL Design, New York, will roll out this year in two phases, using the theme, "Samsung can't miss cameras."

"Joe Montana was called the `can't miss' quarterback," Mr. Strange said. The aim is to show consumers "[they] can't miss with our advertising, can't miss with our product, can't miss with our features and can't miss with the quality of our pictures."

The first phase begins with a print ad supporting a Father's Day promotion that introduces Mr. Montana as spokesman and offers a $10 rebate with the purchase of any camera in the 35mm Zoom line. The ad will run in June issues of Parade and USA Today during the monthlong promotion, as well as in photo trade publications.

The ad shows two side-by-side photos of Mr. Montana. In the first, he is taking a picture and his face is partially obscured behind the camera. In the second, his face is revealed. Copy above the photos asks, "Who says you can't miss with a Samsung camera?" Below, it answers, "Joe Montana, that's who!" The rebate coupon is included at the bottom of the page and can also be obtained at point of purchase or on the Web (www.samsungusa.com).

SPORTS CAMERA

The "Can't miss" concept will be continued in a TV spot and another print execution later this year in support of the third-quarter launch of Samsung's Evoca 170 SE, a special sports-edition camera with a long-range zoom lens.

"The camera market is tremendously cluttered," said Dan Schwartz, creative director at BTL Design. "We recognized [Samsung] had to take a bold step."

Analyst Ulysses Yannas at Buckman, Buckman & Reid thinks it will be a challenge for Samsung to build a brand in the 35mm category since sales increasingly are shifting toward Advanced Photo System and digital cameras. "It's very difficult to increase or to build brand name recognition if the market is moving away from you," he said.

But Samsung thinks putting a sports icon's face behind the lens will help, as will the biggest ad budget in its 10-year history. Samsung, which would not disclose spending on the campaign, spent $1.3 million in 1999 in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"The camera market has been sleepy," Mr. Schwartz said. "This is an opportunity to create some energy."

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