Philips Continues B2B Rebranding Push With Digital Stories

Hopes to Show Company Is More Than Lightbulbs, Toothbrushes

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Global lighting and electronics company Philips is set to enter the next phase of its efforts to be seen as a b-to-b company, posting digital documentaries that showcase how its innovations are helping businesses and people around the world.

Through the help of its agency Ogilvy, Philips will post digital stories in two dozen markets over the next six to eight months.

A focused b-to-b message is something Philips' relatively new chief marketing officer Richard Wergan knew he needed to work on. He was hired last year to the role of executive VP and global head of brand, communications & digital -- essentially Philips' CMO. His primary undertaking was to rebrand the company. The main challenge was that it was perceived primarily as a consumer marketer -- a maker of toothbrushes and light bulbs -- despite having two-thirds of its overall offerings in the enterprise and government work.

As such, many of the documentaries will showcase how other industries, particularly in infrastructure and healthcare, are utilizing Philips products to benefit people every day. This is at the core of the company's "Innovation and You" campaign, which officially kicked off in November with some targeted TV spots and advertising on the Economist, MSNBC and Wall Street Journal websites.

The documentaries, filmed in various parts of the world by Ogilvy, are being regularly posted on a branded Innovation and You Philips website, with more examples from around the world coming over the next several months.

Feedback from social channels, particularly LinkedIn and Facebook has been "positive" as Philips is finding that, so far, its gamble to tell its rebranding story through Web-based tales from companies it is helping seems to be working out.

"Historically we have not communicated these stories as broadly or effectively as we could have. We needed to show the broad innovations we are involved with and appreciate what Philips brings to the market today, not just our history," said Mr. Wergan. "The model of brand building has changed in b-to-b, you need the emotional engagement to tell these complex stories. Understanding what can be achieved through digital media becomes increasingly important, but there's still an awful lot of learning to be done."

Ogilvy has been Philips' agency of record for the past two years and continues to document businesses around the world to showcase the company's "innovation," a term Jaime Prieto, the agency's president of global brands, admits is often overused and can even "cheapen" a brand. Regardless, the firm wanted to use the phrase in its messaging.

"Job one for Philips was to be known as an innovative company in the b-to-b space, so we are speaking to business decision makers [in our creative]. Philips wants to bring up everything they do in healthcare and lighting and [the documentaries] tell their unique approach to innovation," said Mr. Prieto.

"We have been delighted with the engagement levels [so far]; the number of movies and films that have been watched among b-to-b audiences has been significant. Level of sharing has also been considerable, above our benchmark objectives."

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CORRECTION: Richard Wergan's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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