Emerson re-charges brand with shift away from Electric

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Emerson (formerly Emerson Electric Co.), a $15.5 billion manufacturing company, this week launches its first corporate advertising campaign to raise awareness of the Emerson brand and educate executives about its diverse businesses.

Emerson dropped "Electric" from its name in December 2000, although it has not done any mainstream advertising to promote the name change and reposition the company.

Instead, the 112-year-old St. Louis-based company has relied on industry-specific advertising for its 60-plus divisions, which manufacture systems ranging from storage products to industrial automation.

Electric loses power

"Electric is not as relevant to our businesses any more," said Kathy Button Bell, VP-chief marketing officer, explaining the brand repositioning.

"We have 60 brands running under the radar," she said. "We’re really moving from being a quiet industrial conglomerate to positioning ourselves as a technology and engineering leader."

Emerson is not the only electric company that has shifted its focus away from electric power. Industry giants General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co. have diversified their portfolios in recent years to focus on higher-growth businesses.

GE, for example, has made a big push into financial services and e-business, while Westinghouse has concentrated on value-added services for the nuclear power industry.

Emerson’s campaign, with a tagline of "Emerson. Consider it solved," was developed by DDB Chicago. The budget was undisclosed, although Bell said it was a multimillion-dollar campaign. It’s slated to launch April 9 with a full-page, four-color ad in the redesigned Wall Street Journal. Also on tap are ads in general business magazines such as Business Week, Barron’s, The Economist, Fortune and Harvard Business Review.

Trade advertising will run in America’s Network, Telephony, HPAC and other industry-specific publications.

The campaign also will feature airport advertising in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York and St. Louis.

Emerson will launch the campaign in China this summer with TV, print and airport advertising.

Tagline challenge

"The challenge was finding a tagline that would work across 60 companies and across all the different businesses," said Jim Stadler, senior VP-group director of the b-to-b practice at DDB Chicago.

To come up with the repositioning strategy, DDB conducted market research among Emerson’s target audiences beginning two years ago, and learned that users associated the Emerson brand with solving critical problems, such as providing backup power for computer networks and oil refineries.

The new advertising focuses on three of Emerson’s core businesses—network power, climate technologies and process management—and shows how Emerson is solving critical needs for each.

For example, a print ad for Emerson Network Power shows an executive standing in a computer control room, surrounded by TV monitors and voice-enabled terminals, with copy reading, "Power to stay out of the dark and in the black."

An ad for Emerson Process Management shows an executive standing on a bridge outside an oil refinery, with copy reading: "Power to force the competition to play follow the leader."

"One of the tough things for conglomerates is to make themselves relevant," Bell said. "When you are making pieces and components, it’s hard to find relevance. The huge thing DDB has done is make us relevant."

Specific Emerson clients are not identified in the ads, but they include IBM Corp., Eli Lilly and Co., SBC Communications Inc., the New York Stock Exchange, DirecTV and Shell.

DDB Chicago is owned by Omnicom Group Inc.

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