Panasonic was looking for a way to gain attention for its TVs, home theatre products and mobile video screens.
They decided to test a guerilla partnership with Nintendo that would be unobtrusive yet hopefully get consumers to see Panasonic products in a fresh, interactive, and even hip, light.
To show off its GameCube system and raise interest before the productís release, Nintendo visited 12 cities nationwide and transformed lofts, parts of retail stores, vacant office buildings and other offbeat venues into fully interactive clubs with DJs spinning music, special lighting and more than 32 game play stations, all equipped with Panasonic HDTV monitors.
When people visited these "Cube Clubs" to try the gaming system, they experienced the game on Panasonic TVs and sound systems. Even though Panasonic was not the overall focus, it was an integral part of the consumer experience.
In addition, outside the clubs, Panasonic and Nintendo set up a PT Cruiser with mobile video screens, giving consumers a chance to sit in the cars and play video games. "It was a great opportunity for people to experience Panasonic mobile sound technology."
"The program was guerilla in the aspect that our business is not specifically gaming," says Gene Kelsey, VP Brand Strategy Group, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company.
"But you canít play games without having a TV involved. We
werenít directly showing off Panasonic products, but we were making the connection by displaying and showing off our products as an adjunct to the Nintendo Cube Club tour."
Kelsey shared his top five tips to creating a successful guerrilla marketing partnership:
Tip #1: The products must be complementary.
"The products canít conflict at all," Kelsey says. "You have to make sure that they work well together and that they show each other off. There must be a synergy between the two companies."
Tip #2: Make sure your product is relevant.
Find a way to make sure your product fits in. You can not just plaster your company brand on something and call it a guerilla partnership. Do something that resonates with your target and that is relevant. "If itís not relevant, itís not going to work," Kelsey says.
"In this program people were looking at video games, so right away we were relevant."
Tip #3: Have the consumer experience the product.
Consumers have become jaded. Branding big events is not as
successful as years ago. You have to provide an experience that they get something out of.
Create some kind of activity that captures the attention of consumers. In this case, video game competitions. "We wanted to reach a younger demographic and reach parents with younger kids," Kelsey says. "We were looking for a product that people didnít necessarily associate us with. And we wanted to do it differently than the traditional retail demonstration. The Cube Club was experiential and a great way to show off a product."
Tip #4: Use it as a platform for promotions & track results
The theme of the program was the Nintendo GameCube, but the subtext was: Play it on a Panasonic TV. "There were promotions involved where people could win Nintendo products," Kelsey says. "But we also gave away Panasonic products."
Panasonic tracked the program by running a sweepstakes tied to its user e-newsletter program, Club Panasonic, where consumers are kept up to date on new products and other consumer information. The sweepstakes served as a gateway to the website and the newsletter. When consumers entered the sweepstakes, Panasonic was able to track how many people were willing to sign up for the newsletter and receive further information, which was not necessary to win.
"It was one of the more successful sweepstakes weíve ever done," Kelsey says. "More people than we expected joined the club. More than two-thirds of the people that reached the sweepstakes page opted for more information."
Tip #5: Pick the right environment.
"You should never have to fight against other issues, other interference where the message gets lost," Kelsey says.
This year (the partnershipís second), Panasonic created a niche area for parents where they had set up personal sound systems (MP3 and DVD players) for them to try out.
"It gives parents something to do and has them using our products while waiting for their kids," Kelsey says. "So the environment is complementary to our products. Absolutely, make sure the environment is not adverse."
Want to meet Kelsey in person? He will be speaking at IIRís "Beyond Conventional Marketing" conference, January 30-31 2003, at the Flatotel International in New York City.