Panasonic Targets Power-Hungry Device Users

Usually, when a consumer product space is dominated by two giant brands — as batteries are by Duracell and Eveready/Energizer — other companies will shy away from that space. Panasonic, long a manufacturer of battery-powered portable electronics devices, is eschewing that conventional wisdom, going after a niche it expects to return the most bang for its marketing buck.

Instead of trying to take on the two big brands head-on, Panasonic is attempting to connect with a younger demographic, 16- to 24-year-olds. This segment is made up of heavy users of portable technology devices — and heavy users of batteries. To reach this group, Panasonic has launched a cross-media campaign for its new Oxyride batteries, which it touts as more suited to powering such devices.

“The story here is about an embodiment of listening to what our customers want, and changing how we to market differently for each target,” Tom Murano, director of brand management at Panasonic North America, told ClickZ News.

The campaign centers around an interactive Web site with animated “Oxymites” characters, which appear in a Flash-based game, as IM avatars, in wallpapers and in screensavers. It has also developed an event marketing component, sponsoring a concert tour and events on several university campuses, where it will hold games and contests to give away Oxymite batteries, as well as T-shirts, wristbands, and other branded merchandise.

In the online game, expected to launch this week, users need to lead the Oxymites — Bully, Fighter, Helper and Hyper — through the city to a concert before time runs out, while zapping various objects along the way. The game includes a “send to a friend” feature to inspire its viral spread.

“You can’t market to this audience in a traditional way,” Murano said. “We launched the ‘Ideas for Life’ brand platform about four years ago, and since then we’ve been living that philosophy. It’s not so much an ad campaign as a vision for the company.”

To demonstrate its ability to “keep up with an after-hours lifestyle,” Murano said the company looked to sponsor a blog that focused on after-hours parties. Finding none suitable, it opted to create one. Afterhourscity.com is run by a handful of bloggers in five target markets, with Oxyride along as a sponsor with no editorial control over the blog’s content, Murano said.

“I’ve always thought the truth prevails — it doesn’t work to have gimmicks,” he said. While it remains to be seen how independent the bloggers remain, it seems that at least they are real people, which may or may not be the case with a blogger for Panasonic’s new high-def TV product blog.

Panasonic is also concentrating its television buys on late-night TV, between midnight and 6 a.m. — both to tie in with the after-hours concept, and to make the most of a limited budget. It will also make select online media buys on sites frequented by young portable device users, like MySpace, Tickle and Heavy.

The Oxymites campaign was developed by Renegade Marketing, which also created Panasonic’s Color of Mystery campaign.

“This multi-tiered campaign builds from a simple insight that this target refuses to be sold to,” said Drew Neisser, president and CEO of Renegade Marketing. “Rather than hitting them over the head with product claims, we let them discover that Oxyride is the first battery that can truly keep up with their highly charged late night lifestyle.”

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