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Panasonic Kicks Off Tour, $100M Ad Campaign


New York –
Panasonic launched its six-week, 15-city Experience Amazing Tour for consumers
around the country and a $100 million ad campaign for its Viera and Lumix

The tour is designed
to give consumers an up-close look at its 2011 lineup of FullHD 3D Viera TVs,
Viera Connect IPTX and range of interactive apps, at a press event in Grand
Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall, here.

Also highlighted
during the tour will be Panasonic’s 3D Blu-ray Disc players, 3D active-shutter
eyewear, Lumix 3D camcorders and digital cameras with interchangeable lenses,
and the Viera Connect IPTV apps for large-panel HDTVs. The company hopes to
duplicate the success of its similar tour in December 2010 that attracted
55,000, said Jim Sanduski, sales VP.

Sanduski said the
goal of the tour is to show “consumers and local media our 2011 line and enable
core [retail] salespeople to be trained” by Panasonic staff during the events.

Three separate
teams are visiting the 15 cities at the same time; for instance, the Grand
Central event continues until tomorrow, with Roosevelt Field in Garden City,
N.Y., April 7-10. Typical visits per market are five days. Other major cities
on the tour include Chicago (April 4-8); Los Angeles (April 4-10); Boston,
Detroit and Phoenix (April 13-18); Philadelphia, Minneapolis and San Francisco
(April 20-23); Washington (April 26-30); Dallas and Seattle (April 27-May 1);
Atlanta and Houston (May 4-8); and Miami (May 11-15).

As part of the
tour, Panasonic will have promotions with retailers within a 5- to 10-mile
radius of each site, according to Vic Carlson, consumer marketing group VP.

“Consumers will
receive a list of retailers and promotions when they leave [each tour location].
Regional retailers, not just big-box chains, will be participating,” Carlson

Panasonic is also
offering 3,000 interactive end caps to regional and national retailers that can
demonstrate the following features in both 2D and 3D: Viera Plasma Advantage,
Upgrade to HTIB, Experience 3D, Capture Own 3D, Viera Connect and Skype.

Carlson said the
six videos focus on how consumers want to experience content, rather than just
the hardware.

On the advertising
side, the Viera ads begin today while the Lumix ads kick off “in the next
couple of weeks,” Carlson said.

The emphasis of
the campaign is on these sub-brands, and in the past year the strategy has

Since a year ago,
unaided consumer brand recognition of Viera and Lumix is up dramatically.
Unaided brand recognition of Viera is up nine times and Lumix is up 12 times
from a year ago, Carlson reported.

As part of the
program, “Avatar” will continue to be a Panasonic exclusive through February
2012 and be “our focus” vs. other possible movie deals, Sanduski noted.

TV and web
advertising will be part of the program, as will the second year of sponsorship
of the U.S. Tennis Open in New York in August and September, set to be
broadcast in 3D. There will also be a holiday tour.

Sanduski also
reviewed Panasonic introductions made at International CES and the overall
marketplace. He said that 20 percent of TV sales last year were connected TVs
while 2 percent were 3D. Panasonic predicted that by 2015, 70 percent will be
connected TVs and 40 percent will be 3D, assuming that some sets will only have
3D or connected TV features.

highlighted the Viera Connect NHL, NBA and MLB apps that were customized for
Panasonic sets, reminding everyone that the platform is for TVs this year vs.
Blu-ray decks, based on the processing power and cost to do it, and will
include most social networking sites, Skype, video game streaming, health and
fitness programming, and sports.

“There will also
be a Viera Market capability to customize the consumer experience and enable
them to buy accessories, video game controllers and the like,” he noted.

On entry-level
plasma and LCD TVs in the 2011 line, Panasonic’s Easy IPTV will be featured,
which is similar to the company’s prior Viera Cast, a closed, pre-approved
selection of online apps.

Sanduski commented on recent events in Japan, saying that the industry “could
see some supply problems” in the near future and confirmed that “digital
cameras [supplies] have been affected.”

He confirmed that
Panasonic TV operations that are on the west coast of Japan and assembled
outside of the country have not been affected. But he voiced the concern of
others that unexpected shortages of key components may occur, which could hurt
the supply chain.