MAHWAH, NEW JERSEY — Sharp has split is US PR business among Kwittken & Co. for consumer and Peppercom for business-to-business, on the heels of decentralizing its marketing function last year.
The move ends Sharp’s two-year relationship with Ketchum. The account is understood to be in the six-figures. Both agencies begun work on April 1.
Last summer, Sharp reorganized its marketing function, moving from a centralized model to having its B2B and consumer groups manage their own PR, design and advertising.
“The decision was made to place more marketing responsibility within groups for their own products and to allow marketing communications to be more closely aligned to audiences,” said Christopher Loncto, director of marketing communications for Sharp’s consumer division that includes TVs, audio systems, air purifiers and small appliances.
Kwittken will work on content creation, media strategy and relations, and crisis communications for Sharp’s consumer division. Social media will continue to be handled by Rokkan, a digital shop, that has been onboard since late 2012.
“But we’re looking for close integration between the two,” Loncto said. “Rokkan will play off strong media placements and leverage those within the social community.”
As large-screen TVs become more commonplace, the onus on companies like Sharp is to persuade consumers why their products are betters than competitors. Kwittken will work with Sharp to do this by communicating its “premium” features to consumer lifestyle pubs, as well as the tech trades. This support will extend to upcoming product launches, including as Sharp unveils more than 20 TVs that are larger than 60 inches this year, as well as its plans to introduce an ultra HD TV --- which is considered a crowded space that most TV makers are moving into.
Kwittken had previously worked with Sharp to launch its Elite series LED TVs. This resulted in several placements in lifestyle media, such as high-end pubs in Palm Beach and other locales -- aligning with Sharp’s broader objective of “moving from a tech-focused brand talking about feeds and speeds to more of a lifestyle company,” Loncto said.
While TVs make up the “bulk” of the consumer marketing dollars spent, Loncto says air purifiers will also be an important part of the remit.
Peppercom will do its work for the B2B division that focuses on imaging and professional LED monitors. Peppercom will handle media, social and creative event support, especially at tradeshows. The core audience will be SMBs with an emphasis on the end-user benefits of the technology, said Grace Hellmold, associate director of marketing comms and events for Sharp’s B2B business. Peppercom will also heavily support the company in ramping up its B2B social channels.