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'Inventive thinking,' the LG way

Meenakshi Radhakrishnan-Swami | August 23, 2005

Problem: you're a white goods manufacturer known for consistently breaching the price barrier. Then you go and introduce a range of premium products: air-conditioners for Rs 50,000, refrigerators for Rs 65,000 and TVs for Rs 100,000 -- and those are the starting prices.

How do you showcase the exclusivity of these products without emphasising the difference in prices between the two ranges?

If you're LG Electronics India, you go in for a two-pronged approach. First, you create exclusive showrooms for each of these top-end products; the upscale ambience and specially trained salespeople who guide you through each special feature help justify the exorbitant stickers.

Then, you keep aside more than Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) to market these products. "High-end products need high-end outlays," managing director Kwang-Ro Kim had told The Strategist earlier this year.

Some of that outlay is going towards extensive point-of-sales promotional material and television commercials to drive home just how special these products are.

A series of three ads broke on national cable channels a few weeks ago. The common link between the ads is the slugline: "inventive thinking". Created by Lowe India, the ads are the agency's first big campaign for LG Electronics since it came back on board last year, after a break of about six months.

Work on the new campaign started some four months ago, when the company discussed the brief with the agency. Of course, the days of a discrete client brief and agency response are long gone.

Lowe India executive vice president Mohit Beotra says the discussion was more interactive and focused on creating a "cost-effective way of communicating to consumers LG's expertise" across the nine categories in which it had top-end products.

LG Electronics India marketing head Salil Kapoor adds that the new campaign is actually part of brand consolidation on three fronts: establishing the premium image, building trust in consumers and emphasising the company's technological superiority.

"This campaign had to promote the sub-brands as well as create a halo around the LG brand," he explains. After much brainstorming, the Lowe creative team zeroed in on the concept: rather than have individual product ads that highlight what's special about each of these gizmos, the agency decided to work on a single thought that showcases all these products yet carries a broader, brand-based message. That thought was "inventive thinking".

LG executives point out that the concept extends itself to three ideas: smart design, efficient technologies, and smart combinations. Smart design shows up in products like the Xcanvas, which LG claims is the world's largest plasma TV and the Whisen Artcool AC, which looks more like a painting than a wall-mounted AC.

Efficient technologies finds form in the Xnote laptop, which has a 33 per cent faster processing speed compared to other similar products, and a noise-free washing machine that offers completely dry clothes.

Smart combinations would mean products like the Dios refrigerator with its built-in refreshment bar and the Xwave TV, which converges all audio systems with itself.

Accordingly, each of the TV ads highlights a different aspect of inventive thinking. In the design one, a young boy is guarding the goalpost. It's pouring and his wet spectacles are hampering his vision.

As he wipes them on his shirt, the ball slips into the goalpost. As the boy looks around dejectedly, he catches sight of a car, its wipers swinging energetically. The child smiles, and the slugline "inventive thinking" appears at the bottom of the screen.

The next shot shows a pair of glasses fit with miniature wipers -- and the boy saving a goal. Cut to a product shot of the Whisen air-conditioner. The voiceover declares that "the future belongs to inventive thinking" and signs off with LG's now-familiar baseline, "Life's good".

The "technology" ad shows a boy trudging up a flight of stairs, laden with a heavy schoolbag. He sees three girls blowing bubbles with gum. Again, a triumphant smile and the slugline appear. Then, the bag is suspended on balloons and the boy is climbing on effortlessly. The product shot is the Xnote computer.

The ad on convergence shows an elderly Buddhist monk struggling with an umbrella in one hand, and a pail of water in the other. A young neophyte watches from under the shelter of a tree as the older man wages a losing battle with the elements. Then he smiles -- he's just had an idea.

In the next scene, the monk is walking through the field, holding an umbrella above his head -- and another on top of it, suspended upside down, collecting rainwater in its upturned base. The product featured is the Dios refrigerator.

Using children in a campaign for high-end consumer products isn't common, but it was a deliberate decision by the agency. "We saw children as the epitome of inventive thinking," says Beotra. "A child's mind is unfettered; it can effortlessly link seemingly-unconnected thoughts."

Lowe's opted for a mainstream media release for the LG campaign, showing the ads in all national cable channels for eight weeks at a stretch. Shorter clips of the ads aren't in the plan -- Beotra points out that the 35-second ads are already tightly filmed, leaving little scope for edits.

While stills of the TVCs are being in print, a few specially-shot print ads have also been devised. "Each of the ads showcases a different product," points out Beotra.

Meanwhile, a parallel print campaign is also on, which addresses buyers' post-purchase diffidence. The ads claim that "One wise decision gives you a decade of happiness."

Once the first round is completed, the TV ads will be off-air for about a month. They will then be repeated for another eight weeks, with changed product windows.

The second round will promote washing machines and super-slim TVs, says Kapoor -- "products that score high on innovation, technology and visibility."

"We want to highlight the fact that LG is a company that works consciously on innovation that help make your life good."



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