Treo Embarks on Branding Campaign

In AKQA’s new branding campaign for Palm’s Treo 680 the tagline is simple: “Not just a cell phone. A Treo.” The six-month effort targets a mass audience and promotes the device’s usefulness beyond voice service.

The integrated “On Treo” campaign was conceived as a push on behalf of the Treo line, but it puts a single handset, the Treo 680 smartphone, front and center throughout. Palm said it spent $25 million on the worldwide marketing effort, which aims to generate mainstream awareness for a device that’s historically favored by business pros and early adopters.

The campaign includes print and online advertising, a microsite, interactive kiosks and viral marketing. Palm Director of Marketing Scott Hancock estimates interactive marketing commands about 15 to 20 percent of the campaign’s scope.

“We’re using the Treo 680 as the hero product in this Palm branding campaign,” said Hancock. “What makes it different from the traditional product-only campaign is that we decided not to focus on the technology behind the Treo 680 that enables the users to do the things they want to do while they’re mobile. Rather we chose to focus on what makes Palm’s Treo smartphone line different.”

Messaging stresses the ease in getting information through functions like e-mail, Web surfing, SMS, and music and video playback. To illustrate how these features are used, Treo partnered with consumer brands such as Amazon.com, eBay, Google, Fandango, Flickr, The Onion, Orbitz, Sports Illustrated, TiVo, Yaho and Zagat. Each partner is participating in various executions. One example is a photo of a phone with the Google logo on the screen; next to the phone the copy says “a stranger.” A second creative uses the same concept to convey “TiVo… to go.” Similar executions appear for Zagat and Fandango.

“We really wanted to align Treo with other passionate brands,” said Julie Patterson, account director at AKQA. “We feel like top brands are starting to think about how to do mobile… We approached brands we felt mesh with what the Palm brand stands for. We wanted to align with partners whose content we felt was enhanced on a Treo.

Beyond ad creative, Treo’s partners are present on the campaign’s microsite at OnTreo.com. The site depicts a busy intersection with lots of foot traffic. Users can toggle through several Treo partner screens to change the scene. When Orbitz is selected, for instance, buildings are overlaid with sightseeing attractions like the pyramids, Kremlin and the Coliseum; and pedestrians take on more of a tourist appearance, with luggage, itineraries, and safari outfits. Instant messenger features from Yahoo are demonstrated by replacing pedestrian heads with emoticons.

More descriptive explanations for each partner, and the phone’s features, also appear on the site.

The campaign also includes interactive kiosks in four locations where visitors can send an SMS to view canned and dynamic content on a large Treo 680 screen. Palm also plans to deploy street teams to demonstrate handset features for passersby, including making a dinner reservation, ordering tickets to a show and simply checking the weather.

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