Regional Strategy Promotes Arcane Technology Product

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- When Texas Instruments began an ad campaign to promote its microchip prowess for rear projection TVs, buying ad time on the Super Bowl was not in the media plan.
Texas Instruments is trying to brand its Digital Light Processing chips much like Intel promotes its Pentium chips.
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In fact, contrary to most Super Bowl ad "premieres," the big game will mark the end of Texas Instruments' five-month campaign to educate consumers about its digital light processing, or DLP, microchips.

"The Super Bowl is only a small part of a total program," said Jan Spence, director of marketing communications for Texas Instruments' DLP products. "There is a sports theme in the ad, but primarily to be entertaining and to speak to our audience, which includes a lot of sports fans."

30-second spot
The 30-second Texas Instruments ad -- in which an on-field referee reviewing a play calls his wife, watching a DLP television at home, to help him out -- will be shown in regional markets Kansas City and Denver. The voice-over kicker intones: "Make sure your next TV has DLP, a Texas Instruments technology."

The Super Bowl takes place Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, Fla., and airs on News Corp's Fox Television.

Rivals Intel, AMD
Although significantly smaller than the nationwide $2.4 million media buy -- the price Fox is charging for a 30-second commercial -- it's a big step for the former calculator giant that now specializes in making smart components for products (such as wireless phones and home-theater systems) that other manufacturers assemble and brand. Like fellow chipmakers Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices, Texas Instruments is using marketing to persuade customers to ask for its parts. Texas Instruments' campaign, created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' TM Advertising, Dallas, includes TV, radio, print and Web advertising, with kickers and taglines to drive consumers to an informative Web site at www.DLP.com.

"We wanted to help consumers understand what DLP is, what manufacturers have it, and where you can buy it," Ms. Spence said.

For the unindoctrinated to the new big-and-thin TV scene, DLP is a technology used in rear-projection TVs, which are big-screen sets that range from seven to 20 inches in width and are usually seen sitting on box bases at local retailers. The screens can be quite a bit thicker than true flat-panel sets, which use plamsa or LCD (liquid crystal display) technology and are usually less than six inches wide. But rear-projection TV prices, which are about half as much as the sleeker sets, are making them popular with buyers. In fact, DLP sales were up 125% year over year in December, according to Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at NPD Group, compared to LCD revenue, up 75%, and plasma, ahead by 45%, for the same time period.

The marketing challenge
Still, persuading consumers to walk into a store informed enough to ask for Texas Instruments' DLP is a challenge. Ms. Spence and the marketer are counting on "educated consumers," that is, the 50-some percent of buyers who do their homework online before buying an expensive TV set.

This effort is just the beginning for Texas Instruments more consumer-oriented focus. At the Consumer Electronics Show, engineers showed off a "pocket projector" and talked about its successful efforts with its DLP cinema technology, now being used to show movies on some 276 screens around the world.

"This is a really exciting time for TI in talking to consumers, and we're going to continue to promote our DLP message, by ourselves and through our partners," Ms. Spence said.

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