Arrow Electronics Gets Animated in Next Phase of Rebranding

Lesser-Known Electronics Giant Turns to Digital Ads to Explain Its Business

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Arrow Electronics is looking to ditch its self-proclaimed "biggest electronics company you never heard of" label. One year after its first national TV campaign brought down its corporate website, it's using animated digital ads to help tell the story of what the company does.

In this phase of its rebranding effort, Arrow sales staff have been showing off the YouTube animated shorts on their iPads for the past few weeks -- with the latest incarnation set to release this week. The 30-to 60-second pieces are part of Arrow's "Five Year Olds on Five Years Out" campaign, which highlights the company's various services as told through the mind of a five-year old.

Each short opens with a child drawing a scene, which turns into a short animated story depicting a theme affiliated with the company's service areas -- from lighting to aerospace, mobility and cloud.

"The idea with this new effort is that your average five -year old is not constrained by years of natural laws and is probably a greater innovator, they are a fount of imagination," said Arrow's Chief Marketing Officer Richard Kylberg. "'Five Years Out' is the whole brand platform. If you imagine further than five years you can't get around the concept."

TV spots are still possible for the $21 billion, Denver-based electronics company, as are Jumbotron showings during Colorado Rockies games and other "major market" MLB teams.

While Mr. Kylberg described the last year as a "huge success," the previous ads did little to show what Arrow does, which has been the global company's greatest struggle.

"We are a full product-lifecycle company that can help you design, finance and distribute if you are a business involved in manufacture of electronics, yet we get lumped into a category of just being a distributor of electronics," said Mr. Kylberg. "Last year we made a big splash, but now we need to have a compelling bridge between who we are and who we serve. We have thousands of sales people and wanted to put something in their hands they could share with their customers and that they could feel good about."

The "big splash" Mr. Kylberg referred to was Ogilvy-created TV spots that aired during the 2013 NCAA Final Four. The ads gave Arrow's website address at the end and drove so much traffic to the site that it crashed.

Arrow aired two spots during the 2013 Final Four, the second of which Mr. Kylberg said the company's web staff was more prepared to handle.

While Mr. Kylberg did not directly attribute it to marketing efforts, he pointed out that the company's stock price is at all-time high levels (approximately $58 a share at the close of trading Tuesday). He also said job applications have increased "exponentially," with Arrow receiving 7,000 hits to the careers page on its website after the Final Four ads ran.

"It may not be a long-term strategy to do high-visibility TV ads, but investors and customers took notice and said 'hey, they're different,'" said Mr. Kylberg. "Now, our challenge is that those spots talked about all the innovators in history, but it didn't say what we do."

Neighboring ad agency Karsh Hagan took that challenge and enlisted LA-based production studio Flavor to help tell more of the company's story.

"You look at all they do and they have lots of stories to tell, so we helped create the stories and [Flavor] helped with the animation," said Karsh Hagan Creative Director Matt Ingwalson. "These stories are going to work in any medium you want to choose; it's all about making sure the Arrow message gets out there."

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