Kyocera Mita Puts Friendly Face on New Branding Effort

Kyocera Mita will more than double its ad spending this year behind a campaign from Seiter & Miller that aims to raise the office-equipment brand’s profile in a field crowded by much larger rivals.

The New York agency’s TV and print effort seeks to establish Fairfield, N.J.-based Kyocera Mita as a personal and ecologically aware copier and printer company with the tagline, “We’re people friendly.” Spending will be $15 million, according to the client.

This is the first work for the company from Seiter & Miller, which won the business in January, following a review in which it bested incumbent Ott Communications in Louisville, Ky., and three undisclosed contenders.

Four straightforward spots take place at a company meeting. A CEO tells employees they are getting new copiers and printers that are “simple and easy to use.” The workers stand up with signs that proclaim the products are “people friendly,” “eco friendly” and “network friendly.” All signs bear a distinctive red smile—part of the company’s red logo—which is shown at the end of the spots as the voiceover says: “Kyocera Mita. We’re people friendly.”

Eleven print ads, which also show employees with white signs, provide product details.

“We wanted to capture the idea that technology can be used to make things simpler for people and easier to use, not more complicated,” said agency creative director Livingston Miller, the copywriter on the campaign.

The work targets people who influence buyers of copiers and printers for small and large companies, such as office managers, CFOs and “opinion leaders” who use the products, said Peter Hendrick, director of marketing for Kyocera Mita. TV spots, which broke last week, are running nationally on cable stations that include Fox News and MSNBC. Print ads are running in Newsweek, Time and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Kyocera Mita is the result of a 2000 merger between Kyocera Corp., a copier company, and Mita Industrial Co., a maker of printers. A TV campaign from Ott that broke in late 2001 was tagged, “One company,” and was product- oriented. Hendrick said the new work is the first major effort to build awareness about the combined brand.

“We’ve had everything in place from a product standpoint for the past year and from an infrastructure standpoint for the past couple of years,” said Hendrick. “Now our job is to do a little bit better on the awareness side and make sure people remember us.”

The brand faces tough competition. The significantly larger Canon, Ricoh and Xerox are the top names in the copier industry, while HP and Lexmark are the biggest players in the printer market, said Jonathan Bees, editor-in-chief of Better Buys for Business. “[Kyocera Mita is] a second-tier player,” Bees said. “They make solid products, but they’re not selling huge lines [like some competitors].”

In 2002, total sales for the imaging industry were down 5.8 percent from 2001 to $24 billion, according to Don Dixon, principal analyst of the digital documents and imaging group at Gartner Dataquest in San Jose, Calif. Of that $24 billion, copiers and printers made up $22.3 billion in sales.

Kyocera Mita spent $6 million on ads last year, according to CMR; in 2001, spending was $3 million.