NEW PANASONIC TV DRIVE TURNS ON THE 'HUMANITY': PARENT MATSUSHITA LOOKS INTO GLOBAL BRAND IMAGE FOR MULTIPLE PRODUCT LINES

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Matsushita Electric Corp. of America will infuse its flagship Panasonic brand with a warm, family friendly feel in three new TV spots breaking Nov. 8, part of an estimated $40 million fourth-quarter marketing blitz.

The spending spree, while traditional for consumer electronics marketers during this period, is the Panasonic brand's biggest ever, and comes as its Japanese parent quietly plots a larger global brand image effort for its sprawling network of businesses.

The new effort by Grey Advertising, New York, will tout the brand's advanced digital offerings-high-definition TV, DVD and camcorders-in 30-second spots that will air in heavy rotation in 10 metropolitan markets in network prime-time and sports programming.

In contrast to last year's high-profile campaign that delivered the visually arresting image of a football player dripping with sweat to showcase the lifelike clarity of Panasonic's new digital high-definition TVs, the new campaign takes a lighter approach. Jimmy Durante croons "Just a Bit of Magic" in the background to associate the brand with a kind of humanity not found in previous campaigns.

"Part of Panasonic's strategy is that we're the tech company with a heart; we're saying, 'This is what this technology brings to your life,' " said Bob Greenberg, VP-general manager, communications division, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. The message is "Panasonic is providing magic that enhances your life," he said.

DIGITAL OFFERINGS

One spot showcases Panasonic's high-definition, flat panel and projection TVs with the Durante-delivered tune in the background and no voice-over. Smiling adults and kids are wowed by the TVs, and when two young boys try to touch a lifelike image of two birds on the screen, they're surprised to find the birds aren't real.

A spot for the brand's array of DVD products serves up a seamless montage of families and kids using Panasonic's portable DVD player, a five-disc changer unit, an integrated TV unit and even a DVD car application. The digital camcorder spot leaves the family to show two teen boys with their camcorder zooming in on a beautiful blonde jogging down the beach. Against the Durante lyric, the guys try to keep her in their viewfinder but instead capture a portly male jogger.

The camcorder's key features are shown without a voice-over. All the spots end with its current tagline: "Panasonic, just slightly ahead of our time."

INSERTED INTO 'REPLAY'

The campaign also will be dropped into the brand's ongoing sponsorship of the "Panasonic Replay of the Day" on CNN. Print, already under way, includes four-page inserts in consumer and enthusiast magazines that show consumers the choices Panasonic offers in three product groups.

Matsushita's work on a global brand image will accelerate next year as it continues to work internally on developing a more brand-savvy mindset, said Justin Camerlengo, president, Panasonic Corporate Enterprises Co. Matsushita's U.S. office will be a key driver of any global brand effort, since North America is considered to have the highest adoption rates for digital technology products.

The company completed a brand study with Landor Associates, New York and San Francisco, and continues to work on a positioning. Matsushita's U.S. branch formed a brand management group in April to examine all marketing, communications and brand issues across its more than 10 sales companies.

The company's challenge is enormous, given its diverse interests and customers, its autonomous management structure, and sales-driven culture.

Appointment of a chief marketing officer and examination of the company's agency

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