Philips Helps Mall of America Shoppers Find Their Cars with SMS

Attempting to drive home its message about simplicity, a program from Philips Electronics allows customers at the huge Mall of America to use text messaging to find their cars after a day of shopping.

Developed by media agency Carat, the goal of the wireless parking effort is to “amplify and really demonstrate Philips’ ‘Simplicity’ positioning,” said Carat VP and Group Account Director Martha Cleary, in a statement.

The sheer number of people visiting the Minneapolis, Minn. mega-mall during the holidays made it the perfect place to showcase how Philips helps people overcome complexity, said David Wolf, Philips Electronics North America’s director of corporate communications.

Under the program, shoppers are presented with Philips branded signage in the mall’s parking garage that says, “Try our cell phone valet.” They’re instructed to send a text message to a 5-digit number. Those who send the message receive a reply informing them exactly where they parked.

“So, two or three hours later, they can look on their phone to find their car,” said Wolf. “Following that, they get a message with a link to Amazon.com, where we have a simplicity gift-giving guide. You can give the Phillips Gift of Simplicity… We hope that the experience is such they leave with a positive conception of the Phillips brand.”

Wolf said about 50 shoppers daily forget where they parked their cars at the MOA. But on big shopping days, such as Black Friday, between 300 and 400 people ask mall security or employees for help finding their vehicles, he said.

“Simplifying the parking process in shopping malls is no easy feat, and this is especially so at the MOA, a location that is 4.2 million square feet and encompasses 520 stores, the nation’s biggest indoor amusement park, and even a walk through aquarium,” said a press release. Wolf noted the mall has more than 12,500 parking spaces.

About 150,000 people were expected to go to the MOA on Black Friday. Wolf said he didn’t have figures detailing how many people used the system.

“The feedback we had from e-mails over the weekend was that it was getting used very, very well and the response was very positive,” said Wolf. “Even people who didn’t use it said it was a good idea. We’re waiting for the hard numbers that come in, but we also are not going to be judging the campaign on four days of its use.”

The program will be in place through Christmas.

While no Philips technology is specifically being touted with the program, the goal is to build the company’s image as a simplifier, said Wolf. “It’s how we are trying to live at Philips and also how we try to position our products, whether they are medical, lighting or consumer products. And one of the ways we are trying to communicate that is through the experience rather than the traditional advertising route.”

He said Philips has been involved in a number of Carat-designed, innovative campaigns based on simplicty. “We purchased an hour of airtime on 60 Minutes and gave it back to the station to give it more news segments,” said Wolf. “That was about simplifying the news experience and taking away the clutter.”

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