Panasonic's $15 mil ad blitz to build brand

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Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. is planning an integrated-marketing makeover that will bring the same look in advertising, packaging and promotion to a company long focused more on selling products than building a brand.

Its new $10 million to $15 million ad blitz, rolling out today, for the holiday season--when 60% of consumer electronics purchases are made--will represent the first time Panasonic has used the same creative approach to promote products across categories.

BIGGEST CAMPAIGN IN 5 YEARS

The TV and limited print effort, Panasonic's biggest in five years, will account for the bulk of the marketer's estimated $18 million 1997 ad budget for consumer electronics and home appliances.

Spending this year is about 30% more than '96, with double-digit increases likely for each of the next three years, said Bob Greenberg, VP-general manager for Panasonic's Communications Division.

The center of the campaign from Grey Advertising, New York, is the six-week spot TV drive in nine key markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Matt DeSimone, Grey senior VP-account services, said the regional run will appear like a network buy, because of tie-ins with the networks. The deal includes sweepstakes promotions with ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football" and "The Wonderful World of Disney" and on-screen billboards tying into sponsorship of NBC movies and CBS holiday specials.

The print ads are running in travel magazines and trade books.

ADS HAVE SAME LOOK

Three 30-second spots--for a camcorder, digital video disc player and a combination TV/computer monitor--have the same look, mixing b&w images, color footage of the product and computer animation.

Floating digits--"011011010 .|. ."--associate the brand with the digital age, and that's key for a brand that has a bit of a "your father's Oldsmobile" image, said Mr. Greenberg, who acknowledged Sony Electronics and computer companies have stronger images on the digital vanguard.

TAGLINE SURVIVES

Panasonic will keep the tagline it's used since 1969, "Just slightly ahead of our time."

Mr. Greenberg said Panasonic Panasonic

brand push is evolving to a more marketing-driven brand approach for a simple reason: The once-booming consumer electronics industry is fast maturing, with key product categories like TV and VCRs plateauing.

LEANING ON THE BRAND

To grow in such categories, he noted, companies must steal market share and lean on the brand to help drive growth.

The integration effort is extending to the company's Web site. Mr. Greenberg is working with Renegade Marketing, New York, on a redesign of Panasonic's Web site will complement the company's advertising.

He wants to position the site as a place consumers go "to find out what's coming"--in consumer electronics, technology, medicine or other topics that align the brand with what's new.

As part of a "Millennium Plan," Panasonic through 2000 will redo packaging, promotion materials and trade show displays so communications have a similar look.

"This program will trickle down to every communications tool we have," said Mr. Greenberg, "demonstrating to people how they can stay just slightly ahead of their time."

Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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