Move Made Despite Latest Ad Campaign's Dramatic Results

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NEW YORK ( -- Panasonic is parting with WPP’s Grey Worldwide despite a tripling of its market share since the agency’s “Ideas for Life” campaign began in April.
Since it began running in April, Grey Worldwide's 'Ideas for Life' ad campaign has dramatically boosted Panasonic's market share.

Company spokesman Jim Reilly said the marketer “has benefited from its relationship with Grey, and that sales on advertised products Grey worked on are up dramatically, as is brand recognition.” Panasonic’s U.S. market share for plasma TVs is 55%, up from 18% since the agency’s campaign began running, according to a survey conducted by Hall & Partners. Mr. Reilly said market share for plasma TVs is roughly 50%, according to NPD data.

He said that the decision to break with Grey instead is part of the marketer’s ongoing effort to transform its North American operations.

Yoshi Yamada, who was named chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corp. of North America in June, 2004, has set the company on an aggressive course of change. He restructured the Panasonic’s workforce last December; changed its corporate name in January 2005 from Matsushita Electric Corp. of America to Panasonic, in recognition that the brand is what customers recognize best; and in April announced that Panasonic will emphasize its promotion of digital products like Plasma TV, digital still cameras and DVD recorders and more than double its investment to promote those products.

According to one executive familiar with the situation, Mr. Yamada intends to build what he calls a “new Panasonic in the USA,” and plans to “implement further drastic changes ... including marketing.”

Agency review underway
Mr. Reilly said the marketer is talking to "a wide range of potential providers of marketing services,” but wouldn’t comment on whether the review is being handled in-house or with the help of an agency consultant. "We’ve radically increased our promotional budgets for the current fiscal year," he added. "That includes general advertising as well as events, Internet promotion and other activities beyond traditional marketing."

For the first six months of 2005, Panasonic spent $24 million on measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence. For all of 2004, spending was $50 million, up 31% from 2003’s spend of $38 million.

Panasonic also works with Publicis Groupe’s Kaplan Thaler Group of New York (personal care products), Renegade Marketing Group (Internet and events), WPP’s WING Latino (Hispanic), and sibling MediaCom (media buying and planning). Mr. Reilly declined to comment on whether those relationships will change.

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