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Thomson Adds Scenium Brand

Thomson Multimedia formally unveiled a repositioned RCA brand strategy that drops ProScan as the company’s high-end TV and video line while creating RCA Scenium as the new trademark for upscale televisions this year, with plans to eventually expand its use to other categories.

“We have been very successful in Europe in repositioning the Thomson brand with the same Scenium initiative, and we expect the same success in the United States,” said Frank Dangeard, Thomson Multimedia senior executive VP.

In Europe the Scenium logo is tied to the Thomson brand, which carries strong brand loyalty and higher average tickets in those markets. In the United States, he said, Scenium will be directly tied with the RCA brand.

At the same time, the company announced it is restructuring its management operations, shifting from a regional to a global focus, while looking to grow business divisions outside of its traditional strength — consumer electronics.

Through expansion into new market segments, facilitated in part by the recent acquisition of Technicolor and Philips’ broadcast equipment company, Thomson is transforming itself into a company that provides “end-to-end solutions” centered around video.

The company is now comprised of four key divisions: Digital Media Solutions, New Media Services, Broadband Access Products and Consumer Products.

Most businesses in which the company is now involved deal with video, or products and services that support video, including its broadband access products division (with links to satellite TV) and a digital subscriber line modem business it is acquiring from partner Alcatel. The latter will eventually serve streaming video content to homes while giving broadband Internet services to telephone companies in the near term.

In the change, Mike O’Hara was promoted from executive VP of consumer products marketing and sales in the Americas to executive VP of consumer products marketing and sales worldwide.

“We’re no longer just a consumer electronics company, we have a much bigger role to play, with new businesses and new customers with many new needs,” O’Hara said. “We believe it will be easier and faster to meet those needs if our businesses are managed globally rather than regionally.”

He announced that, effective July 1, Thomson merged its U.S., Europe and Asia TV and video businesses, and “are in parallel creating a worldwide sales and marketing group.”

The merged regional organizations will create economies of scale in product development and operations. This will result in a more cost-competitive infrastructure “and will allow all regions to benefit from global innovations,” he said.

Eric Meurice, who recently joined Thomson’s executive committee after serving the European division of Dell Computer, will head the new worldwide television and video product management group and profit center as executive VP, working out of Indianapolis.

The initial goals of the new operation are to reduce cycle times bringing products to market, to optimize global designs and “to drive the new branding position and strategy to improve both the Thomson and RCA brands,” O’Hara said.

The bottom line goal of the new Scenium line, he said, is to drive the RCA brand into higher average selling prices, aiming at the upper third- and fourth-quartile retail positions of the industry.

O’Hara said the RCA brand has been “limited by the class ceiling of value,” that is mostly based on perception. Using Scenium, the company will “shatter through the glass ceiling, bringing a more influential and wealthier consumer to the RCA brand.”

The first Scenium products to ship this summer and fall include five digital TV products. This includes two fully integrated HDTV sets — the HD65W20 65W-inch CRT-based rear projection set ($4,999 suggested retail) and the L500000 50W-inch LCOS-based rear projection set ($6,999) — and three HDTV monitors — the D32TF20 and D36TF20 32- and 36-inch TruFLAT 4:3 direct view monitors ($1,799 and $2,299, respectively) and the PHD50300 50W-inch plasma display panel ($14,999).

“This year we will seat the product line and begin the movement of the RCA brand into the more advanced products, and next year RCA Scenium sends its audio, video and broadband products, leveraging our global strengths,” O’Hara said.

Distribution of the Scenium line will hit most of the company’s ProScan dealers, O’Hara said, “but also we will be expanding into more accounts,” including some national chains.

According to Jim Gatman, consumer communications and marketing services VP, Thomson initially considered taking the separate ProScan brand and making it the high-end brand under RCA, but “it was becoming difficult justifying two different product development programs to support both ProScan and RCA high-end products.”

The decision to ditch ProScan and launch RCA Scenium as the new step-up line came after extensive research that showed the company would reap consistent efficiencies around the world if it had a consistent product strategy supported by a consistent brand strategy, Gatman said.