Sharp’s Big Push Puts Aquos In Focus

Sharp Electronics’ latest campaign for its Aquos line of televisions touts a new type of color technology but adds humor to its tech-focused pitch with the quirky delivery of actor George Takei.

Known primarily for his role as Sulu on Star Trek, Takei will appear in TV and print ads as well as retail displays. As a pitchman, he wears a white lab coat, carries a clipboard and chuckles at the notion that anyone watching the spots on non-Aquos TV’s can’t see the difference the new technology makes.

“At Sharp, our goal is to reproduce every color in the world on TV,” Takei says in the first spot, which breaks on Saturday. He adds that the new technology “adds a fourth color — yellow — to the standard RGB system, creating a vast array of colors you can’t see with your TV’s three-color technology. But you can see this.” Then he turns to look closely at the screen of the new TV before exclaiming, “Whoa,” and his signature line, “Oh, my.”

The tagline doubles as an invitation to retail outlets: “You have to see it to see it.”

The campaign, which also includes online elements like rich media ads and a new microsite (, represents mcgarrybowen’s first work for Sharp. The client last year shifted lead creative duties for Aquos from Interpublic Group’s Lowe, though Lowe remains on the roster for creative projects, said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president of marketing at Sharp in Mahwah, N.J.

The shift came without a review and at the suggestion of Sharp’s headquarters in Osaka, Japan, which uses Dentsu as its lead creative agency. Dentsu acquired mcgarrybowen in late 2008 and helped introduce the shop to Sharp executives.

Sharp will spend “tens of millions” of dollars on the new campaign, which will run through October, said Scaglione. Last year, Sharp spent about $46 million in major measured media on Aquos — down from nearly $70 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. Those figures don’t include online spending.

Sharp cast Takei, who now plays a father role on NBC’s Heroes, because he’s a well-known character actor with a great voice and a good sense of humor, Scaglione said. In addition, “there’s a built-in fan base around him,” said Mark Koelfgen, an executive creative director and managing director at mcgarrybowen in New York.

The agency produced two spots and three print ads. The director on the TV work was Phil Morrison, whose reel includes the “Get a Mac” campaign for Apple.

The Quattron-infused Aquos will go on sale in the U.S first — in April — before spreading to Canada, Mexico and Europe. The suggested retail price will range from about $1,900 for a 40-inch model to roughly $3,500 for a 60-inch set, Scaglione said.

At national and regional retailers, Sharp will set up “end caps that tell the story” of Quattron, Scaglione added. In addition, Sharp will provide additional sales representatives at the stores to further explain the new technology. National retailers who sell Aquos include Best Buy and Sears.

“Many times we push technologies that are hard for the consumer to see without a dedicated demo,” Scaglione explained. “We feel that this (quad pixel technology) is going to be easily identified when they get to the retail floor.”