With a myriad of brand choices, a fragmented audience and a willingness by many competitors to sell below cost in order to gain market share, the U.S. consumer electronics marketplace is one of the most complex and competitive in the world. Despite many barriers to success for new market entrants, LG Electronics – a conglomerate that in the mid-1980s was known primarily for its low-cost home appliances – set its sights on becoming one of the world’s top three consumer electronics brands by the year 2010.
LG already held worldwide leadership positions in many product categories through OEM and branded sales; however, LG was not an established household name in the U.S. The main challenge was breaking into a crowded marketplace as a premium brand and overcoming the widespread consumer perception that Korean brands were low cost and their products were inferior to those offered by Japanese competitors.
Confusion surrounding LG’s lower-priced brands, including the Zenith brand, also added to the challenge of establishing credibility among key influencers and skeptical media.
Extensive qualitative and quantitative consumer research provided significant insights about demographics, media and buying habits, which enabled us to segment the target audience between mainline, early adopters, trendsetters, hipsters and affluent consumers.
Outreach to various audiences was targeted, with initial outreach focusing on consumer electronic trade and enthusiast publications to build brand awareness about LG in the premium category with key “lead steer” media who are experts in the industry. With influencer outreach complete, the second round of media outreach was broadened to encompass national business, consumer, luxury and technology media, bringing LG’s message to the general consumer marketplace. This multi-tiered approach not only reached the small number of media influencers, but also drove mass media coverage, which created growing consumer awareness and increased demand for LG-branded products.
Due to the wide array of LG products and price points, significant thought was given to creating “customers for life” by targeting niche markets such as teen and trendsetters for lower-price point mobile handsets as an entry point to the brand. Over time, programs could adjust to follow these consumers through changing demographics, purchasing power and lifestyle situations. The common point throughout all initiatives, however, would be a focus on how technology, design and functionality are incorporated in all of LG’s products helping to illustrate “Life’s Good,” the centerpiece of the advertising campaign.
The strategy focused on the creation of an overarching program that would be broad enough to reach the mass consumer audience, but also be flexible enough to support niche programs and target markets. The campaign launched in New York’s Times Square in late December 2003 with the unveiling of LG’s new Times Square LED Billboard and encompassed the Consumer Electronics Show, the industry’s largest tradeshow.
With momentum spilling over from the launch to CES, several other program elements were incorporated, targeting both the broad-based consumer and niche audiences who purchase and use LG products. Program elements included Sundance 2004, LG Action Sports Championships, sponsorship of Fashion Weeks in New York and Los Angeles, media tours to LG’s headquarters in South Korea and proactive media outreach to a wide variety of print, online and broadcast media covering vertical, business and consumer news and trends.
In addition to traditional proactive media relations, product placement and trade show support, Ogilvy PR planned and executed programs targeting business, consumer and niche audiences. Following is an overview of select programs.
The brand was introduced to U.S. consumers and media with a high-profile event timed to coincide with the unveiling of LG’s Times Square LED billboard. Through a street-marketing campaign entitled “Pucker Up New York,” LG was the talk of town as New Yorkers were invited to kiss under the world’s largest mistletoe that was displayed on the LED billboard. Concurrent with the street event, more than 200 LG retailers and special guests – including more than 80 journalists and the Deputy Mayor of New York City attended an evening gala where the CEO of LG USA formally introduced the LG brand.
Three weeks after the launch of brand in the U.S., LG made its first U.S. trade show appearance at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show. More than 200 reporters attended the press conference and LG or agency representatives conducted more than 200 briefings with print and broadcast media. More than 1,100 articles relating to LG at CES appeared, resulting in an estimated PR equivalency of more than $15 million.
To further establish itself as a premier entertainment and consumer electronics brand, LG was a major sponsor of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. In addition to seeding Park City with multiple LG plasma TVs in key celebrity venues and being the official mobile handset provider of the show, the agency arranged after-parties for some of the hottest movies being introduced at the Festival, including the ‘Butterfly Effect’ starring Ashton Kutcher.
A series of media tours to LG’s headquarters in South Korea helped introduce reporters to LG and showcase its cutting-edge products and technological innovation. More than 20 industry influencers and top-tier editors from publications ranging from Fortune and Popular Mechanics to Good Housekeeping and Cargo participated, touring LG’s state-of-the-art facilities, including research labs, factories and design centers. The trips provided attendees with a clear understanding of LG, its products and strategy of becoming a top-tier brand in the marketplace.
To increase brand awareness among the targeted 18-24 consumer base, Ogilvy PR promoted the company’s title sponsorship of the LG Action Sports Championships, a multi-sport event competing with the X-Games and Gravity Games. In addition to extensive media relations campaign, Ogilvy PR planned and executed an extremely well attended event prior to the Championships, in which athletes competed to set a skateboarding world record. With more than 10 million media impressions and attendance estimated at more than 80,000 people, the 2004 LG Action Sports Championships further solidified LG’s presence in the eyes of the teenage demographic.
To further build awareness among the trendsetters and fashion elite, LG was a sponsor of Fashion Week. Ogilvy PR planned and organized events in New York and Los Angeles, which were attended by key industry influencers and top-tier media. In New York, the trendy Bryant Park Hotel – located adjacent to the main Fashion Week venue – was outfitted with LG branding and high-end LG plasma displays, showing fashion shows live. A ceremony to announce the winner of an LG-sponsored internship with celebrity designer Carmen Marc Valvo was also held in the lobby, attended by such publications as Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, Elle, Stuff and the New York Post. In Los Angeles, a concert with rock band Sugar Ray took place at the iconic Wiltern LG Theater. A host of celebrities, fashion industry influencers and journalists attended the concert.
LG accelerated its aggressive branding programs for 2005 beginning with CES 2005. The company built one of the largest booths at the show, expanded offerings to include all U.S. divisions and aggressively promoted hundreds of new products, winning 16 prestigious CES Innovations Awards – more than any other company. Demonstrating a heightened interest in LG, more than 260 media attended LG’s press conference – a 30 percent increase from 2004. Additionally, Ogilvy PR managed 215 media briefings – a 40 percent increase over 2004. In just over a week, Ogilvy PR secured in excess of 850 placements, 500 million impressions and $3.1 million in advertising equivalency as well as a BusinessWeek cover story.
LG’s U.S. brand launch was a massive success, as indicated by the fact that LG grew its North American “top line” results by 20 percent with sales of more than $7 billion. The mobile handset company is the number one provider of CDMA handsets in the U.S. and is now the fourth-largest handset manufacturer in the world. LG is also among the top producers of flat panel TVs, air conditioners and microwave ovens. Supported by more than $62 million in PR equivalency and $35 million in advertising equivalency secured by Ogilvy PR in the past year, LG’s brand awareness continues to climb.
If more than 6,000 placements – equating to 2.5 billion impressions – and multiple corporate profiles in high-profile outlets such as Time and BusinessWeek – are any indication, LG is definitely well on its way to becoming a household name and global brand by 2010.