Sharp Pulls Out The Stops For Solar Panel Campaign

Sharp ad campaign Not many consumers think about Sharp Electronics and solar panels in the same breath. But the U.S. arm of the Osaka, Japan-based company known for the Aquos line of liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions announced a marketing campaign Monday that says it can become dominant in both product lines.

The advertising and marketing efforts tap sponsorships, promotions, television, print and online--not only to educate consumers on Sharp's role in LCD TVs, but solar energy systems, too. Sharp has developed solar panels for farms, homes and satellites for more than 45 years.

"When consumers go to their dealer for solar panels, we want them to think about the same Sharp Aquos TVs they have in their home," says Neal Lattner, senior marketing director for the Sharp marketing and communications group.



The campaign designed by Lowe Worldwide, an Interpublic Group company, took four months to build. The message speaks to adults ages 25 to 54 who earn more than $75,000 annually. These well-educated homeowners are curious, and want the best technologies developed by innovative brands.

The first phase of the print, broadcast and online advertising campaign focuses on Sharp's Aquos line of LCD TVs, relying on the company's sponsorship with Major League Baseball (MLB). It ads call the Aquos the "ultimate ticket," because for baseball fans, it's the best seat in the house to watch games.

The campaign tagline, "Change your TV, change your Life," tells consumers they can improve their lives by improving the television experience. The first of three 30-second TV spots began airing in May on national broadcast and cable networks.

It's also Sharp's first major U.S. advertising campaign featuring solar technology. The print ads communicate Sharp's vision of a solar-powered world. The TV ad--tagged "Change your power, change your planet"--began airing this week, highlighting an expertise in solar-powered installations worldwide. The commercial features Pepperdine University math and physics professor Gerard Fasel. The same message in a third TV ad highlights Sharp's history in LCDs.

Not all agree the association between LCD televisions and solar panels will work to strengthen a leadership role for Sharp in alternative energy sources. Marketing guru and author Al Reis says "consumers think LCD TV sets are expensive electronic devices, and you don't want them to visualize what it would cost to put dozens on their roof," especially because solar panels are viewed as more affordable per square foot.

Sharp is missing an opportunity to own the market, Reis says. "It's a classic example of when a company should launch a second brand," he says. "Even if they must launch a brand no one has heard of, long term it would establish them as a leader in the solar panel market."

The TV ads will air multiple times during today's MLB's All Star Game broadcast. During the game, Sharp plans to launch a nationwide sweepstakes to giveaway more than 1,000 prizes such as trips, Aquos LCD TVs and chances to meet MLB players.

They will continue to run on sports stations through September and then on educational cable channels History, Discovery A&E and Fox, among others, through the end of the year. Sharp has scheduled more than 10 print ads that focus on Sharp's LCD TVs and solar technology to rotate through Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. Aside from TV commercials and print advertisements, Sharp introduced the micro-Web site,, to educate consumers about Sharp's products. A Facebook application and supporting online advertising campaign, gives consumers a change to win TVs. One lucky person wins a trip to Japan.

The Facebook application resembles the classic game Hot Potato, only in reverse. Facebook users who install the game can take possession of a box from another player, which is passed around to other friends who have installed the Life Changing Box application. Winning the prize means having possession of the box when it opens.

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