Philips, Other TV Makers Embrace the Nothingness of Their Products

How to market devices that keep getting smaller

The lack of something can be a potent element in a marketing strategy. "Got milk?" is the classic example—built not around having milk, but around the common parental fear of being out of it. That was a cultural insight. Lately, tech marketers have played around with similar concepts—based on product insights. As electronic products get thinner and thinner, there's potential in pretending they've disappeared entirely. LG had that great security-camera spot last winter, from Y&R in Amsterdam, in which the thief steals a flat-screen LG TV from an electronics store—while appearing to be holding nothing at all. Now, Philips is marketing its own new television, whose frame around the screen is so thin as to be almost invisible, with a game based around how hard it is to see. The marketer has "hidden" 10 Frameless TVs around the world, and is challenging consumers to use Google Maps and Street View to "pin" the locations—and win the television. It's a tricky thing to be doing—embracing the "nothingness" of your product. Many tech marketers, notably Google, are always moving in the other direction, trying to give more of a physical weight to virtual goods and services. But the LG and Philips campaigns prove that with the right approach, nothing can be quite something after all.

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