Panasonic Brings TV Campaign Story Online

Panasonic is extending a successful TV campaign into an interactive online campaign that hopes to engage users with its products while they dig for clues to a mystery.

The “Color of Mystery” campaign, created by Renegade Marketing, uses characters from TV spots for Panasonic’s plasma high-definition TVs. The television portion of the overall “Ideas for Life” branding effort was created by WPP Group’s Grey. Online, Renegade fills in the complicated back-story to create an interactive mystery which consumers can solve, and then use the solution to enter an online sweepstakes.

“The TV spots generated lots of consumer interest in the back-story behind the characters,” Drew Neisser, president and CEO of Renegade, told ClickZ News. “What the 30-second spot does well is make the consumers interested and intrigued. What the Web does well is tell a deeper richer story. We’re picking up the storyline where they left off.”

One vignette in a TV spot features two boys playing soccer in an alley when they see a woman hanging a red bra outside her window. As one of the boys breaks into a strut, the narrator asks, “What is the color of bravado?” Another shows a funeral procession, with most people weeping. The exception is a woman in a red dress and sunglasses, the faintest hint of a smile on her face. A priest, with another woman crying on his shoulder, glances back at her with a disturbed look. The narrator asks, “What is the color of defiance?”

“The TV campaign from Grey was beautiful and mysterious, and prompted a lot of viewer questions,” said Gene Kelsey, VP & general manager of Panasonic Consumer Electronics. “People really enjoyed the commercials and wanted to know more, but instead of simply posting the commercials online, we saw an opportunity to extend the campaign by involving viewers in an interactive experience that they direct and control.”

In creating the online follow-up campaign, Renegade Marketing utilized the characters from three of those vignettes, including the brothers, the priest, the crying woman and the woman in red. Renegade wrote an intertwined back story for each of them, and built a choose-your-own-adventure-style Web site where users could unravel the mystery — with the help of some of Panasonic’s products, of course.

Users can interact with a digital camera, plasma TV, or DVD recorder to find a clue, while learning more about the products themselves. Once users solve the mystery, they can use that information to enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to Switzerland to open a Swiss bank account (another clue in the mystery), with $5,000 from Panasonic. They also can win $5,000 in Panasonic products.

The campaign targets media consumers interested in upgrading their home entertainment systems, so Renegade is supporting the site with buys on sports, entertainment and gaming properties. Online ads inviting people to solve the “Color of Mystery” contest will run on sites like TVguide.com, Gamespot.com, and SportsIllustrated.com. Print ads will consist of magazine inserts in Entertainment Weekly and Sports Illustrated.

The complexity of the campaign, and the time put into creating a compelling story, are elements that Neisser thinks will make the campaign successful. “It’s written as a good story that should be told,” he said. “When you’re attempting to engage the consumer, you have to respect them, and give them some kind of reward for spending their time.”

The goal of the campaign is not to make people run out and buy a Panasonic plasma TV, but to keep the Panasonic brand in consumers’ minds when they are ready to buy, Neisser said. “A plasma TV is a considered purchase — people are going to think about it for a while. While we’re entertaining them, we’re also helping them to make more informed choices along the way.”

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