Upstart Wireless Charger Breaks Big With $15 Million Push

Powermat Tries Print, TV, Airport Signage; In-Store Efforts at Best Buy, Target

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NEW YORK ( -- If you're sick of all those messy cords to your electronic devices and having to remember your cellphone charger everywhere you go, there's a new marketer in town who's after your heart: Powermat, a self-proclaimed pioneer in wireless charging.

OPENING THE DOORS: Device is the first wireless charger to market to mainstream.
OPENING THE DOORS: Device is the first wireless charger to market to mainstream.
Tech geeks have been buzzing about the wireless charging concept for a few years, but it's been largely foreign to mainstream consumers.

That's likely to change next month when Powermat, a privately held marketer in the Detroit suburbs, unveils a global campaign -- just in time for the holiday season -- to promote its namesake product, a sleek black mat that works via a technology called magnetic induction.

Powermat was created via a joint venture with Homedics (a company known for foot spas, pillows and massagers) and received a lot of attention when it showed off its mats at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Soon after, Beth Harrison Meyer, Powermat's director of product development and the lead on all marketing efforts, set about finding agencies to handle a broad launch for the device, choosing WPP's Maxus to handle media duties after a review and New York indie shop Woods Witt Dealy & Sons for creative.

Broad push
The push breaks in the U.S., U.K. and Italy on Oct. 5, with an integrated campaign that includes everything from airport signage and installations to a four-page insert in Wired magazine and full-page print ads in other publications, and a series of humorous 15- and 30-second commercials intended to show people's reactions to the new technology.

Ms. Meyer declined to discuss spending for the launch, but industry executives estimate it at $10 million to $15 million for the first phase.

The campaign will coincide with Powermat hitting shelves next month at two mega retailers, Best Buy and Target, which will also provide significant in-store marketing support. "You will not be able to walk into these retailers and miss Powermat," said Ms. Meyer, noting it bypassed specialty shops such as Brookstone, as the device aims to have broad appeal among consumers. It will also sell on Amazon.

Powermat is a two-part system made up of an ultra-thin mat and a receiver. Both a portable and folding home version are launching at the same price point, $99.99. The Powermat's "powercube" receiver charges hundreds of devices, including iPhones, iPods, BlackBerrys, e-readers and a host of other electronics. Powermat also offers custom receivers for $29.99 to $39.99, such as a built-in iPod case and specially made battery doors that let consumers drop their devices directly on the mat to begin charging. It charges up to six devices at a time.

"If you think about how much money we spend on accessories for phones and other devices, it is a small amount," Ms. Meyer said. "We expect to see it on a lot of wish lists."

One feature that's sure to be a hit among greenies is that Powermat is energy-efficient, halting charging once a battery is full. "So many of the smartphones are battery hogs, so you can charge them at a useable level for you, " Ms. Meyer said.

The concept behind the work, said Harry Woods of Woods Witt Dealy & Sons, is to show there's no need to fight that big bunch of cords sitting in your kitchen or crawling under your desk to plug something in. "A simple statement is key, especially with technology," said Mr. Woods.

The Powermat launch is the first global campaign for Woods Witt, a shop of only a dozen full-time staffers. Mr. Woods and his partner in the agency, Gill Witt, worked together for 12 years at BBDO, New York, before hanging their own shingle in 2005. In addition to Powermat, clients include Hickory Farms, CNBC and Butternuts Beer & Ale.

Messrs. Wood and Witt are also known in ad circles for being outspoken critics of industry award shows and are the creators of the anti-award show the "Wrath of Cannes."

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