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LG Spreads ‘Scarlet’ Fever

New York — Following the unveiling of the twist from its recent viral Internet and TV teaser campaign, LG Electronics is hoping consumers and the media today aren’t uttering Rhett Butler’s final statement from the classic film “Gone With The Wind.”

Tuesday evening LG staged in New York the second leg of a bi-coastal press conference here, to disclose that the “Scarlet,” which is the subject of a series of blind ads that seemingly promoted the arrival of a new TV series about a beautiful mystery woman, was, in fact, an ad for the arrival of LG’s new line of stylish big-screen LCD TVs, featuring gloss-black frontal cosmetics with an all-red backing and sides.

The first half of the announcement took place Monday in Los Angeles, while the second half was held at the Tribeca Film Festival, of which LG is a major sponsor and has provided a number of 60 Series sets to serve as the official HDTV of the event. The displays were positioned prominently throughout the multi-venue festival, showing trailers of participating films.

In addition to the unusual color use, the 60 series design also incorporates “invisible speakers,” which places speakers out of sight, within and behind the front bezel, while still producing enhanced sound characteristics, LG said.

The five-model 60 Series is offered in screen sizes of 32, 37, 42, 47 and 52 inches. All feature 1080p high-definition resolution, 120Hz frame rates and LG’s Intelligent Sensor technology that automatically adjusts image brightness, sharpness, color and tint to match the surrounding light in a room.

The series will begin shipping in May with the 37-inch 37LG60 – $1,699.95 (suggested retail), 42-inch 42LG60 ($2,799.95), 47-inch 47LG60 ($3,499.95) and 52-inch 52LG60 ($3,799.95). A 32-inch version will ship later in July and the super-slim 1.8-inch models (42- and 47-inch) will be released later in the summer at prices to be determined.

Allan Jason, LG marketing VP, said the 60 series models package most of LG’s top picture performance technologies, with an added dash of style.

“Technology-wise these models are very similar to those in our 70 series, but we think there is a big play to be made with design as sets get bigger and bigger and start taking a more prominent space in the family or living room. With $10,000 or $15,000 worth of furniture, people want sets that look as nice when they are not turned on as they do when they are on.”

Steve McNally, LG sales VP, said the company continues to stick to its distribution strategy, which favors big-box chains, regional and specialty A/V stores and excludes mass merchants and warehouse clubs.

In addition, the 42-inch super-slim 60 series model, which measures 1.8 inches thick, will be directed exclusively at Magnolia showrooms and select higher-end retailers.

Although acknowledging the tactic was intentionally deceptive, Jason said the Scarlet ad campaign has delivered maximum impact for the amount of money invested. While small in comparison to the budgets used by rivals Sony and Samsung, Jason said the Scarlet campaign budget is significantly larger than the money spent for a full year on the 2007 “red couch campaign,” yet the Scarlet effort is concentrated into a 75-day period.

Television ad placements will be spread across a broad range of programming, but will particularly stress film and entertainment oriented content, Jason said.

“We wanted to create a buzz around the innovative effort we are making in the marketplace,” Teddy Hwang, LG Electronics USA president, said of the global marketing effort that will hit 27 countries. “One of the target consumer segments we are aiming at is the premium product seeker. This is a customer that is looking for not only style but technology, and we think we have delivered that.”

Dealers attending the Tribeca event were generally impressed with LG’s effort.

“There are some products that lend themselves to cosmetics, but I don’t ever see myself becoming a fashion retailer,” said John LaRegina, who handles TV and video purchasing for New York City-area based A/V appliance chain P.C. Richard and Son. “It’s great to see the red backing on the new line, but the last time I looked, people still watch TVs from the front. It is still performance that matters most. Frontal cosmetics are also crucial and these are some nice looking contemporary sets here.”

LaRegina said that as picture quality and gloss-black cosmetics equalize across the industry, brand awareness tends to have the most impact.

“In the end analysis it’s feature performance per dollar that determines success out there, and I think this line is going to do very well. I really do,” he said.