When we’d welcome a new person onto the business, we’d ask them what Panasonic products they had in their home. Invariably they’d say they didn’t have any.
Then the next day, they’d come in and say that they never realized they had a Panasonic air conditioner. Or phone. Or alarm clock. Or fan. Or toaster. Or retinal scanner. (Okay, I made that last one up – every person who said they had a retinal scanner at home knew it was a Panasonic retinal scanner…).
Now, the good news about that little factoid is that the household penetration of Panasonic is on a level that most brands would kill for. The downside is that little part about no one knowing that they’re there.
So Panasonic wanted to improve its profile. And they wanted to do it with that most badge-conscious of consumers, 17 to 25 year olds.
Now, again, the good news is that not only do these guys consume a tremendous quantity of electronic goods – from phones to TVs to shavers to cameras to whatever – the thinking was also that if you got them to be Panasonic-aware in their twenties, you could keep them in the franchise as their budgets got larger and larger – to flat screen TVs, to home entertainment systems, maybe even to retinal scanners (hey, we can dream, can’t we?).
The bad news? Qualitative testing said that Panasonic was way way off their radar. Like not registering at all. Below Sony, below Nintendo, below Samsung, below Motorola, below even Microsoft.
Although there was some rhyme and reason to this. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were all had gaming systems, and the target loves gaming. And Motorola was famous for the coolest phones.
Now the good news was that summer Panasonic was bringing out a bunch of cool little electronic devices – tiny cameras, mp3 players, video cameras – that the target was gonna really dig. The kind of thing that could make any party better. That could make any day better. And in that lay the idea.
Because we realized that this age group had a unique relationship to summer – these were, by and large, their first working summers. Either they were in school and had to spend their summers – the summers they had looked forward to all miserable school year – working, or they were just recently out of school, and discovering what all the rest of know – that the same miserable job you had in January and February and March, you now have in June, July and August. And that kinda sucks.
Which is why this program was originally called “Summer Shouldn’t Suck”. But the client felt that although he, as the father of teenagers, completely understood why it would resonate with the target, didn’t feel confident that he could explain this logic to his Japanese bosses. So we changed it to “Save Your Summer” and everyone was happy.
The Panasonic Save Your Summer program was dedicated to the proposition that you only got one summer and you should do everything in your power to make it great. And that Panasonic products could help you do that. And we were so certain of that fact that we were going to bring them right to you. We tricked out three ambulances with Nintendo gaming systems, Panasonic flat screens, and top of the line sound systems, so consumers could game like never before.
But more importantly, these big yellow trucks (complete with flashing lights and street teams) were used to go to the places that our target was hanging out – concerts, the beach, skate parks, electronics stores, wherever – to show them the products that could save their summer.
And when the client did the post-program qualitative at the end of the summer? Panasonic had jumped up to second place (just behind Sony) – leapfrogging Microsoft and even Nintendo (one of our SYS partners!) in the target’s selection set. Which is why we expanded the program the following two years.