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Sharp Electronics to Men: You Need 70 Inches of TV

TV, Digital, Social Media Push Aims at Man Cavers Age 35 to 49

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Sharp's new ads for its 70-inch flat-screen TV is a bit of a retro move.
Sharp's new ads for its 70-inch flat-screen TV is a bit of a retro move.

Is 70 inches too big? Sharp Electronics doesn't think so.

The electronics company hopes to convince the man cave set that it needs a 70-inch LCD TV with a marketing and advertising campaign launching today. Sharp, the first to retail shelves with a flat-screen behemoth this large, plans to capitalize on its head start with an aggressive TV, print, online, social media and in-store campaign tagged "Big is too small a word." The company is featuring its target audience of men aged 35 to 54 as its advertising spokesmen, replacing their heads in ads with giant TV sets and having them proclaim made-up words like "Spectactularge!" or "Magnormous!"

The campaign was created by Sharp ad agency Dentsu's McGarryBowen, New York.

It's a bit of a retro move, however, as a lot of TV marketing has shifted to adopt women as its target , focusing on design and aesthetics vs. size and sports viewing, in recognition of women as key purchase decision-makers in the family. Bob Scaglione, chief marketing officer for Sharp's U.S. subsidiary, agreed that women are important to TV buying, noting that Sharp has also focused on marketing to women. However, he said, the company has recently concluded that while women might initiate and ultimately approve the purchase, much of the legwork in figuring out which TV set to buy is left to men.

"Quite honestly, years ago we started speaking to women because they're the gatekeepers," he said. "But -- and I'm speaking generally -- we found that it's still more of the men who are doing the heavy lifting in the ... work of choosing the set." He added, "We've come back to our roots in targeting sports-loving men."

And while some might argue that 70 inches is too big, Mr. Scaglione would, of course, disagree -- although he conceded the size might "scare some people a bit." In Sharp's own testing, some men wondered if they would have to sit way across the room to watch it. But with today's technology and high resolution, he said, the recommended viewing distance for 70-inch screen is only about 10 feet.

A combination of lower prices and steady demand has indeed pushed big TV set sales higher in the past few years. IHS iSuppli recently reported that 50-inch-and-larger TVs accounted for about 22 .7% of all TVs sold in the first quarter of 2011, the highest rate to date, making it the fastest-growing category in the sector with an increase of 3% over the fourth quarter 2010. The most popular size range is still 40 to 49 inches, though, which accounted for 39.5% of sales (an increase of 0.6%), followed by 30- to 39-inch screens at 25.5% (an increase of 1.2%).

A DisplaySearch study in April also found that consumers are replacing their TVs more frequently than before, with the decision to replace "strongly linked to wanting a larger set with better picture quality."

Sharp's campaign, which runs through July 4, will include educational materials at retail to help broker the potential "it's too big" argument, as well as social-media elements including a Facebook contest. Consumers can craft their own made-up blended words to describe the sets, as well as create their own big TV heads to submit for a chance to win a 70-inch Sharp TV.

TV ads will run during sports broadcasts and major sporting events such as the NBA playoffs and the NHL Stanley Cup, as well as on the Discovery and History Channels. Digital placements include CNET, Gizmodo and Sports Illustrated, as well as search-engine buys on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

"Men are actually very confused about the TV space. They told us they felt like they should know what they want and what to ask for in big-screen TVs, but all the jargon really has confused consumers," Mr. Scaglione said. "This taps into the emotions of buying a TV."

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