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Panasonic Sees Gold In Summer Campaign

Panasonic will promote its status as a leader in high-definition and digital cable-ready television products with a summer advertising and promotion campaign anchored by official sponsorship in the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The company will use a series of national cable TV spots and print ads focused on four core areas: flat-screen TVs, multi-media digital cameras, three-CCD digital camcorders and DVD-RAM-based DVD recorders to underscore its key technology offerings.

The company used a media event at Madison Square Garden, where it will be a technology contributor to the Republican National Convention this August, to announce a new DVD recorder with the subscription-free TV Guide On Screen program listing service. Also unveiled was a third fully integrated “digital cable-ready” VIERA plasma HDTV set — a 37W-inch model, which will carry a $4,999 suggested retail price when it ships at the end of June.

The new “DIGA” family DVD recorder — model DMR-E95H ($899.95) — features a built-in 160GB hard drive capable of storing up to 284 hours of compressed standard-definition programming. It also features DVD-RAM and DVD-R recording capability. The addition of the TV Guide On Screen EPG will help users easily program recordings of favorite TV shows up to eight days out. The guide is also used in the DMR-E85H and DMR-E65S introduced earlier.

Other features on the new model include a new Direct Navigator, an onscreen guide that presents content stored on a disc in easy-to-review thumbnails.

The new 37W-inch plasma television joins the company’s previously announced. 42W-inch ($5,999) and 50W-inch ($7,999) models. Panasonic said the new panels offer a 3,000:1 contrast ratio; integrated speaker systems; a digital access with ATSC, NTSC, QAM and digital CableCARD capability; SD-card photo viewer; and multiple component, composite, S-Video and PC inputs.

Meanwhile, a Panasonic spokesman would neither confirm nor deny a published report in TWICE’s sister publication Multichannel News that the company would also be working with 10 major cable TV multisystem operators (MSOs) to launch an HDTV marketing effort tied to NBC’s August coverage of the Summer Olympics.

That effort, which is expected to be formally announced later this month, was said to be similar to the March Madness promotion run this spring with Samsung. The MSOs and Panasonic will pool resources on a media buy that will include both broadcast and cable ads for Panasonic HDTV sets. Local cable operators were also expected to tie into the program by offering consumers who buy a Panasonic HDTV discounts on programming, according to the report.

The Cable Television Advertising & Marketing association, which coordinated the Samsung cable TV effort, could not be reached for comment.

Panasonic brought former Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Keri Strug to its media briefing to underscore its Olympic sponsorship this August. At the games, Panasonic will provide Astra Vision and DLP large-screen displays for 25 locations, Ramsa professional audio equipment for 40 locations, approximately 15,000 television sets, a television broadcasting studio setup for the international broadcast center and solar-power generators.

In other efforts, Panasonic’s latest print and TV advertising campaign uses key personalities to drive home the performance message of its products.

For three-CCD camcorders, Panasonic will offer print and video spots using noted children’s book author and illustrator Todd Parr to play up “the color reproduction of Panasonic’s ultra-compact three-CCD digital camcorders.”

For its D-Snap Four-In-One A/V Multi-Cam, the company has tapped hip-hop music producer Russell Simmons to play music, make videos, take photos and make voice recordings.

Multimedia artist William Wegman was selected to show his famous photos and videos of posed and costumed weimaraner dogs to play up the functionality of Panasonic DVD recorders.

For plasma TV, Panasonic has selected a senior model marker from London’s Pinewood Studios to show the detail capability of Panasonic’s high-resolution plasma screens by displaying miniature models from movie productions.