Are There More Movie Theaters Being Built In The U.S Marketing Strategy of Sharp Corp in Competitive LCD Market

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Marketing Strategy of Sharp Corp in Competitive LCD Market

The premise of the “More to See” theme was that, just as television was the most powerful storytelling device (with perhaps the tip of the hat to cinema), Sharp’s Aquos product line offers the most advanced televisions, giving viewers a more vivid experience through its superior color, detail and sound. One of the campaign’s five television spots showed people – a mother dressing her daughter, a man cooking, a movie theater audience – going about their lives with their eyes closed. Finally, a woman opened her eyes in an art museum in front of Victor Meireles’ painting The Battle of Guararapes. A voice on the phone then said, “Sharp Aquos LCD TV. Suddenly there’s more to see.” Some critics have taken exception to the basic concept. Barry Jenoff commented in Brandweek: “To take the premise of the video literally is to imply that people cannot truly see or value their lives unless television is there to help them.” And, moreover, they will not really appreciate their lives unless they replace their regular TVs with Aquos. Of course, Sharp can’t tell people to go out and enjoy life by turning off their TVs.”

The “More to See” message may have been simplistic, even illogical, but the method by which the centerpiece of the campaign was delivered was as innovative as Sharp’s LCD technology. The campaign was more than multifaceted; it was in many ways an example of interactive fiction, using various elements – television spots, print ads, websites and an “alternate reality game” competition – to engage audiences and keep them involved in the campaign for months. Such an approach was intended to counter consumer resistance to 30-second commercials after years of bombardment, not to mention the ability of digital video recorder owners to skip commercials. A pioneering effort at this type of promotion was the independent film The Blair Witch Project, which caused a stir by suggesting in the media that the film was a student documentary project gone horribly wrong. The curious were led to the producer’s website, and a large number of people began to argue among themselves whether the “found footage” of the student filmmakers was real or fake. When the low-budget film opened, it became a surprise hit in the summer of 1999, generating an impressive $150 million at the domestic box office.

Sharp has enlisted the services of Blair Witch producer Hakan Films to help create a mystery story around which to spin a marketing campaign and a “More to See” competition. The resulting story was called “The Legend of the Holy Urns,” and consumers were invited to solve the mystery of where an eccentric millionaire hid three prized urns. The three television commercials that developed the story – “The Key”, “The Pool” and “The Tooth” – wove a “cinematic mystery”, according to Bill Dunlap of Shoot magazine, “set on a country estate, including a beautiful woman, an elderly man in a swimming pool and careless driver in a Volkswagen Karman Ghia.” Marcus Robinson, writing for Boards Magazine, offered his summary of the set-up: “A guy, Peter Lindeman, is swimming in the pool of his grand French chateau, and his girlfriend wanders off on her way to meet her lover. Unfortunately, she is massaging a toothache and has been looking back, which forces him to swerve to avoid hitting her. He ended up launching his red sports car into the pool.”

All three videos showed the same incident from different points of view. In “The Pool,” for example, a woman was watching Lindeman swim in a pool from a bedroom window when a car suddenly flew through the air and landed in the water. A Sharp television was then shown, and on its screen viewers were directed to the campaign’s website, Moretosee.com. The site provided audio and visual clues and featured blogs purportedly written by three characters engaged in the hunt for three mysterious urns. Chat rooms were also available for people to ponder the mystery together. Once viewers were on the website, they had the opportunity to learn more about LCD technology and Sharp’s Aquos line of televisions. Participants were also directed to other websites to discover clues. The videos were directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris, whose credits include Heaven’s Gate, The Thin Blue Line and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control.

The television spots began airing in September 2004 and have aired on various networks and cable programs, including ABC’s Monday Night Football and CBS’s 60 Minutes. The “More to See” campaign also included print ads, run by Wieden & Kennedy’s Amsterdam office, which also tried to drive people to the website. After starting in the United States, “More to See” was introduced in 18 other countries. As a supporting component of the campaign, Sharp opened a storefront in New York, where consumers could experience the Aquos product line and where additional clues were available. The campaign ran for four months, during the critical holiday season, with bits of the mystery parceled out over time. In the end, Ken Floss from Ohio solved the puzzle and won the grand prize, an Aquos television and other home theater equipment.

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