‘Epsonality’ Debuts

NEW YORK Like most marketers, Epson is looking for new ways to reach its consumers. To that end, it is changing its approach to its holiday marketing to take an experiential tack over a hard-sales approach emphasizing price and product attributes.

The “Epsonality” campaign, launched this weekend and slated to run until January, is centered on Epsonality.com, a Web site that combines broadband video with a personality quiz to match users with the right Epson printer for their needs.

“We wanted a much more experiential way than our more traditional way of advertising printers based on feeds, speeds and specs,” said Jeffrey Marks, director of marketing and communications at Epson.

The campaign is the first work for Epson from Sausalito, Calif., independent Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, which in June won the Epson creative and media account. Omnicom Group’s DDB in Venice, Calif., was the incumbent.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed. Last year, Epson spent $35 million in domestic measured media, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Epson is running three TV spots showing a lab setting where a researcher tests subjects with Epson printer products. The spots direct viewers to “discover your Epsonality” online. The Web site features a welcome video of a couple on a couch discussing their “Epsonalities.” The test uses video of a host asking roundabout questions that determine a user’s printer needs. After the three-question quiz, the site recommends one of nine printers and includes a link to buy it from Epson.com or find a retailer.

“What we’ve done is found a unique, engaging and fun way to have customers determine what printer is right for them,” Marks said.

The campaign is geared to early adopters in creative professions, who appreciate the reliability and power of Epson printers compared to its competitors, said John Sheehan, group business director at Butler, Shine. The goal is to make Epson the Apple of printers.

“People look at printers as boxes on their desk,” he said. “We’re trying to move it to accessories.”

One influential voice of the target group not impressed is popular Web 2.0 blog Techcrunch editor Michael Arrington, who called it the “lamest Web site of the week” and urged Epson to “stop trying to be a conversational marketer and just get back to the basics.”

With its shift in messaging, Espon is also changing its media mix, Marks said. In past years, it has focused on a drive-to-retail strategy, which has meant a heavy newspaper component. Instead, online has become the focus (accounting for 40 percent of the budget), complemented by cable TV, magazine and out-of-home buys. The company has dropped newspaper and radio, he said.

“The difference this time around is we’re providing a useful and engaging tool to find out what is the best product for them,” Marks said.