Toshiba displays digital prowess with HDTV spots

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Toshiba America Consumer Products takes a nostalgic look back to the dramatic birth of TV in 1948 to launch its next-generation high-definition TV product in a spot breaking tonight on NBC.

The estimated $5 million to $8 million TV, print and Web campaign is designed to showcase Toshiba's digital capabilities. It's also the latest in a series of fourth-quarter ad pushes from consumer electronics marketers -- such as Philips Electronics and Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. -- that focus on the lifestyle benefits of technology rather than "speeds and feeds."

`TONIGHT SHOW' START

The effort, via FerrellCalvillo, New York, introduces the tagline "Toshiba digital. The power to bring people together. Again." The spot will be broadcast in HDTV during "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," with billboards flagging Toshiba. The new tag replaces "In touch with tomorrow," a line the division used for about 20 years.

"This really is the launching of Toshiba as a digital company," said John Ferrell, agency president-chief creative officer.

The spot unfolds with an extended family's matriarch asking, "So, what is it?" as a man, perhapsher son, carries a large wrapped object into the living room. "It's Toshiba HDTV," he says. Then a voice-over adds, "Toshiba digital makes home entertainment new all over again."

Print ads start in the Nov. 29 issue of Sports Illustrated.

Toshiba's strategy takes even further the emotional pitches being lobbed by deeper-pocketed competitors. Thomson Consumer Electronics' RCA brand continues to leverage Nipper and Chipper, its canine brand mascots. Panasonic will spend at the $40 million level this quarter with spots set against a Jimmy Durante rendition of "Just a Bit of Magic."

A notable exception is home theater and big-screen TV market leader Sony Electronics, spending an estimated $30 million this quarter. Its effort takes a hip approach in seeking to brand the leader in creating a revolution in TV.

Toshiba bounces between the No. 3, 4, and 5 positions among consumer electronics marketers in the fledgling HDTV segment, along with Panasonic and Pioneer Electronics USA; Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics America is No. 2.

DVD BUSINESS WILL HELP

Industry observers said Toshiba's more-entrenched DVD business will help build its share in HDTVs. Richard Doherty, director of research for Envisioneering Group, a technology research company, said that since programming broadcast in the HDTV format is available in only about half of the U.S., Toshiba should benefit in terms of sales of DVD players -- since DVD movies viewed on HDTV sets offer cinema-like quality.

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