Sure, everyone knows the brand of cell phone, refrigerator, computer and television they have, but few know the company that helps supply the components.
Using the NCAA tournament as a high-profile launchpad, Arrow Electronics, a company that handles electronics supply chain management and distribution, is making some noise about its position as the company behind the companies that make innovation their business.
“We’ve been around 75 years, and we believe we help guide companies. We like to say, ‘If it takes a charge, it has Arrow in it,’” John Hourigan, vice president of global communications for the Englewood, Colo., company, tells Marketing Daily. “For is, there’s multiple people and audiences we want to reach who are interested in innovation and want to find out about Arrow. This way we can reach people who don’t know about us, but could benefit from Arrow’s [services].”
Through television advertising and a dedicated Web site, Arrow touts the idea of innovations that are “five years out.” As Hourigan puts it, that time frame represents a “tangible future” that is imaginable, but not quite within reach.
“If you start to get 15-20 years out, you’re starting to get into science fiction,” he says. “‘Five years out’ is for the people who are navigating the path of possibility and practicality, from computers to coffee makers.”
The Web site introduces “The Innovators Club,” a place where “the greatest minds in history gather to share ideas, inspire one another, and define the tangible future. This is where the possibility of imagination and the practicality of the real world come together.” Through videos (created by Ogilvy & Mather in Chicago), viewers are introduced to innovators such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and many others. In an introductory video, two characters enter the club, and are shown the luminaries as well as countless others who created products such as a toaster oven and three-pronged outlet who are less well known. “Innovation isn’t something you do to get famous. It’s a calling, a passion,” says the host.
Later videos depict the historical figures interacting with new devices (showing off a camera phone, for instance), and guests at the party. In one video, a man, speaking with Edison, praises his invention of the light bulb (“the symbol of coming up with ideas”), and wonders how he came up with it. “It was dark,” Edison replies. In another, a woman touts how her phone makes business paperless, only to find that the man she’s showing off to invented paper.
Using the NCAA basketball tournament (which is often viewed by high-level decision makers in the electronics industry) is a way for Arrow to get its message out about its services that run the gamut of support for the complete lifecycle of electronic components and computing, Hourigan says. In addition to the television commercials and Web site, the company will also use its more traditional business-to-business channels, as well as its social platforms to tout the idea of five years out, he says.