Panasonic Bows Viral Marketing Site for Consumer Devices

In an interactive marketing effort aimed at tapping the Web’s storied viral potential, consumer electronics maker Panasonic launched a tongue-in-cheek Web site this week that pits its products against the enemies of fun.

The site, at peopleagainstfun.org, purports to be the Web presence of a non-profit advocacy organization, People Against Fun (PAF), representing “like-minded people who refuse to have fun, and wish to control the spread of fun around the United States.”

Amidst anti-fun propaganda are admonitions to avoid Panasonic consumer electronics products and a proposal people instead buy a radish because, “This radish is just as portable, and it’s [sic] bitter taste will remind you that we’re not put on this earth to have fun.”

The site is the work of New York-based guerilla marketing agency Renegade Marketing, which has long worked with Panasonic, and also engineered campaigns for Citibank, Hasbro and IBM.

Peopleagainstfun.org is specifically designed to highlight certain entertainment-oriented products: a DVD recorder; a plasma TV; the Lumix digital camera; the Nitrix audio system and the SD Multi AV Device; upon which Panasonic’s parent company has pinned its hopes this year.

Japan’s Matsushita Electric , which owns the Panasonic brand, cited sales of its video and audio equipment as drivers behind a recently announced operating profit for the last fiscal year. The company’s plan for this fiscal year involves introducing and aggressively promoting more products in its V-line, including DVD recorders, digital cameras, plasma TV sets and mobile phone handsets.

The PAF Web site, while clearly a small part of the effort, aims to drive interest in these key products and help build a database of potential customers via a sweepstakes.

Other site tools include videos designed to allow people to easily forward them to friends. One depicts a handsome young man running along the beach, and suggests that People Against Fun could help him learn to live without fun in a “barren joyless existence.” Villains of the videos are shown with Panasonic electronic devices.

Another site section “exposes” people who enjoy having fun, all of whom are using Panasonic products. In one example, the site’s text reads: “This unidentified man spent a whole day in the park making movies, taking photos, recording audio and listening to music with his pocket-sized SD Multi AV Device!”

Matsushita Electric’s most recent moves in the marketing arena include placing a more important emphasis on the Panasonic brand globally, promoted with the tagline: “Panasonic ideas for life.” The company has also launched a nearly global campaign for its DIGA DVD recorder, which will run throughout the summer and feature Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone.

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