By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
SAN DIEGO — LG InfoComm will launch its first national consumer-advertising campaign as part of a branding initiative by parent LG Electronics to reintroduce the LG name in the United States, said LG InfoComm marketing director Michele Thenegal.
LG will join such handset makers as Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung in promoting aggressively in consumer media.
The LG ads, which will appear in national newspapers, are part of a branding campaign that will include LG's first co-branded wireless phones. Previously, the company's phones were marketed to consumers only under a carrier's name.
The newspaper ads will be followed in the first quarter of 2002 by ads in consumer magazines, and sometime in 2002 by a national TV ad campaign, she said.
LG already sells its phones to many CDMA carriers, including Alltel, Cricket, MCI, Sprint and Verizon, and the company has increased unit sales by 700 percent during the past two years, Thenegal said. "One in 10 phones sold in the U.S. [to carriers in calendar-year 2000] is an LG phone," she claimed.
Nonetheless, a brand-awareness campaign will further increase market share by creating consumer demand for LG products, she said. "Before the end of the year, people will go to carriers to ask for LG."
Although it might seem that carriers would resist brand campaigns that could limit their flexibility in controlling the sell-through of particular phone models, Thenegal said extensive focus groups have determined that LG's strategy will be a plus for its carrier customers.
"We found that consumers look at a co-branded phone as a better phone than one with only the manufacturer brand or only the carrier brand," she said. "[Consumers] look to the strength of the carrier brand for service quality and phone plans and to the manufacturer for phone quality."
LG's campaign will follow the July launch of the company's first wireless phone that prominently displays the LG name along with a carrier's name. The co-branded LG/Sprint PCS phone is the dual-band DB520.
Although it hasn't yet advertised on a national basis, LG is no stranger to consumer promotion, having tripled its consumer ad budget during the past two years, Thenegal said. The company has placed some regional print ads in cooperation with carriers, as well as some TV ads in Texas in cooperation with Verizon, Thenegal said. LG also does stadium advertising in Los Angeles and San Diego and will extend that later this year to Atlanta and Chicago. The company also erected a billboard in Times Square.
Sponsorships have also been a part of LG's awareness campaign. In addition to this year's Jazz Fest in New Orleans, it is sponsoring this year's PGA Memorial golf tour with Verizon and the U.S. Open, both of which get significant TV air time, she said.
In 2002, LG will be a sponsor of the World Soccer Cup, which will also be broadcast on TV.
"We are the pioneer in the LG worldwide brand strategy," Thenegal said. "Our corporate goal worldwide is for all high-tier products to be LG-branded."
In the U.S., LG Electronics markets consumer electronics under the Zenith and GoldStar names and appliances under the GoldStar brand. This year, the company launched a high-tier LG-branded appliance line.
The consumer-awareness campaign is designed to build on LG InfoComm's sales-support programs, Thenegal said. "Carriers and retailers know our phones and how to demo them," she said. "When we launch a phone, we train retailers three months prior."
The company's marketing aggressiveness coincided with its third appearance at this year's annual CTIA convention, "but it was our first year with a major commitment to the show," Thenegal said. There, the company showed a quartet of CDMA 1X phones as working prototypes and mockups.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.