The Benders: Panasonic gave family a suite of products they're using to create films that will appear online.
That makes them perfect for Panasonic's marketing strategy, "Bring Back Family Time," which centers on the insight that families don't spend enough time together even though they desperately want to.
According to Harris Interactive research commissioned by the electronics marketer, more than 98% of parents said spending family time together is important, even though about half (48%) said they don't spend enough quality time with their children. And luckily for Panasonic, a whopping 63% said they'd be willing to spend more money on technology if it increased family time.
The Benders are one of the first four families -- 26 more will be chosen -- to receive a $20,000 Panasonic suite of high-definition equipment including a plasma TV, an HD camcorder, digital cameras, a computer and a Blu-ray player, along with one non-Panasonic item: a family-friendly Nintendo Wii game system. Each family will be tasked with working together to film and record who they are and where they're from.
Mini-films from the Benders -- and the Brennan, Rockford and Harris families -- reside at livinginhd.com. The site complements the "Living in HD" tour of four tricked-out trucks traveling the country to offer the hands-on Panasonic HD experience.
All about unity
While high-tech equipment is more traditionally associated with isolation -- zoning out in front of the TV or surfing the web alone -- Panasonic is specific in its marketing about the ways in which it can be unifying.
Advertising includes humorous TV spots about disconnected families, as well as print ads in USA Today and ads on sites such as Disney.com and Parents.com that include ideas for family time using Panasonic products. The TV spots are running in Sunday slots during "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "America's Funniest Videos," billed as "Panasonic Family Night on ABC."
Panasonic and its agency, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, studied consumers and tried to tap the "cultural zeitgeist," said Debra Bass, Panasonic Consumer Electronics' VP-consumer marketing. She said the idea of the quality-time-starved family fits with Panasonic's brand attributes of approachable, affordable and accessible.
NPD Group analyst Steve Baker pointed out that most tech campaigns -- even from marketers such as Apple and Hewlett-Packard -- are based on personal messages about what the product means to each consumer. Social networking and online surfing are also basically isolating uses of technology.
"In trying to re-establish the primacy of TV -- and the stack of equipment around it -- as a central gathering point for family ... they are more focused on an almost anti-technology theme and more about what these products can do for you," Mr. Baker said. "Even though many companies say that, at the end, everybody seems to devolve into 'speeds and feeds.'"