Panasonic Springs Ahead, Returns in Fall

NEW YORK Panasonic will get an earlier than usual start on its ad campaign when it rolls out a $50 million “Fascinating people, fascinating products” effort this week.

Encouraged by the strength of its new product offerings, the consumer electronics giant is hoping to grab some sales during the “moms, dads and grads” season. “It’s a little different from what we’ve done in the past. We’re starting the campaign in the spring and reprising it in the fall,” said Gene Kelsey, vice president of brand strategy at Panasonic in Secaucus, N.J.

The campaign, via Grey in New York, shows how Panasonic products fit in the lives of celebrities. TV ads starring hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons portray him using a D-snap SD camera. Artist William Wegman uses his DVD recorder to capture photos and videos of his famous Weimaraners. Children’s book author and illustrator Todd Parr, recognized for his use of color, uses the 3CCD camcorder, which is known for its vivid color reproduction. Hollywood model-maker Mervin Loynes, known for his attention to detail, marvels at a plasma TV that shares the same attribute.

The 2-year-old tag, “Ideas for life,” continues. Actor Christian Slater again provides the voiceover.

TV spots, targeting 18-49-year-olds, will air in 12 major markets during high-profile season finales such as American Idol, Everybody Loves Raymond and That ’70s Show. The work will also play on 15 cable channels nationally, ranging from A&E to VH1. The flight ends in mid-June. Print supports. When the campaign starts up again in the fall, it will add new celebrities to the mix.

Panasonic has been spending aggressively lately, and its marketing budget will increase 20 percent this year. Panasonic spent $44 million on advertising in 2003, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, up 31 percent over 2002.