Magazine article Marketing

Philips Looks to a Wider Picture

Magazine article Marketing

Philips Looks to a Wider Picture

Article excerpt

For the first time in over 100 years, Philips is pushing into pan-European advertising. But is it playing too safe with a strategy based on invention?

Philips is gambling |pounds~30m on what it claims is the first genuine pan-European campaign in its 103-year history.

The move backs a corporate brand positioning of "Philips for you".

Pan-European press and TV advertising will break in early October, produced by Philips' new corporate agency EURO RSCG.

But already it is clear that the shift to central control is more pronounced than most expected. Agencies such as previous incumbents O&M and GGT, which ran the CD-i account in the UK, are the big losers under the new single agency approach.

The campaign itself focuses on four main product lines: televisions, video recorders, digital compact cassette, and CD-i. It pushes the products with references to Philips inventions such as the audio cassette and the CD.

The company is also producing its first pan-European magazine which combines "lifestyle" articles with a product catalogue. Over seven million copies have been produced in 12 languages.

The decision to focus on Philips' track record as a technological innovator follows months of discussion over the company's pan-European positioning.

"We have operated along country axes for the best part of 100 years; what we're trying to do now is along broader product divisions across Europe -- it's bloody difficult to get right," says Philips consumer electronics UK managing director Barrie Mead.

Philips has played relatively safe with the new campaign: the technologist theme echoes previous corporate mantras such as "Simply Years Ahead" while there is little change in the brand's mostly mid-market credentials.

"In the end we are a volume brand," says Mead. "Maybe what we are doing here after 100 years is writing the ten commandments in stone, so we all know across Europe what the Philips corporate brand values are."

But questions remain over whether the marketing rethink goes far enough. Some have identified dangers in a strategy which relies on invention. "It's not enough to rest on your technological laurels and say 'Buy Philips because we did this 30 years ago'," says a representative of one UK retailer. He is "reserving judgement" until he sees how the campaign is adjusted for the UK.

"The British public is more concerned about product quality and benefits than who invented what," says Brenda Jones, senior marketing manager at Sony. …

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