By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Baltimore – Polk Audio launched what it called its most aggressive promotion campaign ever, teaming up with music group Walk Off The Earth, promoting an online talent-search contest, and deploying a product-laden tour bus around the U.S.
The “Listen To The Music” campaign will focus on promoting the company’s Heritage Collection of personal audio products, mainly to the 25- to 34-year-old age group.
The collection consists of multiple headphones including the new $199-suggested Nue Voe in-ear sculpted headphone, new $299 Camden Square portable Bluetooth speaker, and the previously announced $699 Woodbourne streaming tabletop speaker, which features AirPlay, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad USB port, optical input to connect to a TV, and Dolby Digital decoding.
All of the products use metal, leather or wood with a vintage look to highlight Polk’s history of offering finely crafted products, said Blair Tripodi, chief marketing officer for Directed’s Sound United division. The division is responsible for Polk, Definitive Technology and Boom Sound products.
The Heritage range mainly targets 25- to 34-year-olds interested in looks and functionality, Tripodi said. In the past, the look of Polk gear has been functional but not fashionable, and many in this demographic might perceive Polk as their father’s speaker brand, he noted.
The promotion will “open consumers’ eyes to the new Polk” and “open up a new audience,” Tripodi said.
To reach this group, Polk signed a promotional deal with Walk Off The Earth, which gained fame through its YouTube music videos, has just released its first album, and will launch its first national tour in January.
The band created an exclusive YouTube video to kick off the Listen To The Music campaign, which challenges up-and-coming bands to create a YouTube video of their version of the Doobie Brothers’ “Listen To The Music” song. Polk will post the music videos on the web, and in early December, the band will pick the top 10 videos. Consumers will vote to choose the winner, who will be announced Dec. 20.
The winning band will open for Walk Off The Earth and for John Legend, Definitive’s brand ambassador, during a private International CES concert at the Hard Rock Hotel.
While the contest is underway, Polk’s Listen To The Music bus will make 70 stops around the U.S. between now and CES to appear at store locations, retailers’ corporate offices, clubs, and major events such as college football games. Radio stations will conduct live remote broadcasts from tour stops and promote the bus’s location on the air.
After CES, the bus will stay on the road through mid March to appear at such events as the Super Bowl, SXSW and the Mardi Gras. The company will evaluate the tour to determine if the bus will go back on the road.
At store locations, the bus will also be used for training.
The bus features product vignettes with active displays of Heritage products, soundbars, car audio and gaming products. A recording studio with cameras in the back of the bus is available for bands that want to compete in the talent contest but don’t have access to a recording studio with cameras. Polk will mix the music videos.
A trailer towed by the bus features a pop-out home theater in partnership with Dish and gaming products in partnership with Microsoft.
To promote the talent contest and bus tour, Polk is turning to digital media, including YouTube and Pandora, launching its first cinema ad campaign, and using social media.
Also as part of the campaign, Best Buy will roll out end caps in November to support the entire Heritage line, Tripodi said. The end caps will use visuals that tie into the promotion campaign, Tripodi said.
In launching the brand’s first Bluetooth-only speaker, the Camden Square, the company offers a DJ Stream app that lets up to four people at a time contribute to a master playlist and let up to 128 other people view the list and vote on the selections.
The speaker’s lithium-ion battery delivers up to 24 hours of playback time at moderate listening levels. The speaker is square and flat, measuring 7.1 inches by 7.1 inches in width and depth and 3.75 inches in height. It features two 4-inch full-range left-channel drivers and two 4-inch full-range right-channel drivers on top. Two 2x3-inch passive bass radiators fire out of the sides.
The active drivers are arrayed to create a 360-degree soundfield, with listeners presented with a stereo soundfield from a left-right pair no matter where they are standing around the speaker, the company said.
Camden Square, which ships in October, delivers AptX and AAC streaming over Bluetooth , and it uses DSP to balance bass, mid and high frequencies at all listening levels.
The latest Heritage headphone is the $199 Nue Voe, which just shipped. The in-ear Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad headphones feature three-button control and microphone and come with different size and shape ear tips. It uses efficient balanced-armature drivers, which deliver open and detailed midrange frequencies and extended high-frequency response. Though the technology is bass-limited, Polk said it used passive equalization to boost bass output.
The Woodbourn, shown at CES, also ships in October.
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