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Fujitsu General: Marketing through celebrity sponsorship

Promotion through personality and partnerships

Fujitsu General is one of the leading suppliers of air conditioning and plasma display technology products within Australia. With the company's slogan "Australia's Favourite Air", Fujitsu has recently rapidly expanded its air conditioning range, with products to suit the domestic and commercial market. This Case Study examines how Fujitsu has achieved its business objectives with a promotional strategy using former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor.

As a result of reading the Case Study, students should be able to:

  • Explain the concepts of marketing strategy and promotion and how these relate to Fujitsu's business objectives. 
  • Evaluate the success of Fujitsu's promotional strategy of personality endorsement to increase brand recognition.
  • Analyse the value of implementing a marketing strategy of partnering with other businesses.

Introduction

The company, which later became Fujitsu General (Aust.) Pty Limited (Fujitsu), entered the Australian market in the early 1970's as a supplier of a range of consumer electronics products including air conditioners, televisions and refrigerators.

Using a personality to build a brand

Fujitsu planned a strategy based on using a personality, a well-known Australian sportsperson. Using a personality is a modern marketing technique that involves much more than the use of the person's physical image.

Planning the campaign

Fujitsu along with McNabb, then planned the campaign and the advertising and public relations tactics.

Communication

An objective with the Mark Taylor campaign was to build greater awareness of the Fujitsu brand among the target audience.

Evaluation

The key to any marketing campaign lies in the results. The results Fujitsu planned to achieve were to increase brand awareness, build market share and achieve market leadership. So, just what did the Mark Taylor campaign achieve?

Promotion through partnerships

As more and more competitors copied Fujitsu's winter cashback initiative, it looked to again differentiate itself from its competitors.

Conclusion

In a market continuing to experience growth, as well as dealing with the continuing pressure coming from cheaper brands and products from Korea and China, the Fujitsu brand, endorsed by Mark Taylor, is maintaining its dominance as the market leader in air conditioning products.

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Introduction

The company, which later became Fujitsu General (Aust.) Pty Limited (Fujitsu), entered the Australian market in the early 1970's as a supplier of a range of consumer electronics products including air conditioners, televisions and refrigerators.

In the late 1980's, Fujitsu's parent company changed its business objectives and refocused these around its research and manufacturing strengths in two main product categories - Air Conditioning and Plasma Display Devices. Fujitsu is now one of the leading suppliers of air conditioning and plasma display technology products within Australia.

Fujitsu - marketing through celebrity sponsorship

With an emphasis on one product, air conditioning, this Case Study examines how Fujitsu has focused its business objectives on:

  • Differentiating its brand from others in the marketplace
  • Increasing its brand share
  • Changing end user perceptions of air conditioning from cooling only to cooling and heating
  • Changing the way air conditioning is sold from one of peak sales in summer to increasing year round sales.

Fujitsu used a carefully planned and executed strategy. This Case Study looks at how developing a marketing strategy based on promotion helped Fujitsu achieve its business objectives. The promotional strategy was built around advertising and public relations, using the well-known Australian cricket personality, Mark 'Tubby' Taylor. We also explore the important role partnerships have played in the company's brand success since 1998, when it introduced the Mark Taylor/Fujitsu campaign for the home air conditioning market.

In 1998 the company looked closely at a range of factors specific to the air conditioning marketplace to help develop its marketing strategy.

To develop the marketing strategy, Fujitsu answered these questions:

  • What are we trying to achieve with this air conditioning product and how are we going to achieve it? and
  • Who is this product being aimed at, or what is the target market?

The strategy created to achieve these objectives was to:

  • Create a point-of-difference for Fujitsu designed to lift brand recognition in the marketplace
  • Educate end users about the heating benefits of air conditioning.

Two tactics were selected to put this strategy into action:

  1. Introduce a respected personality - a person consumers would associate with the characteristics required for the brands success (a family-minded person, a person who was trusted, a leader who was approachable, respected and admired by both men and women)
     
  2. Create a persuasive winter promotion to encourage sales of air conditioners at this time of the year and educate consumers on the heating benefits of air conditioning.

 


Using a personality to build a brand

Fujitsu planned a strategy based on using a personality, a well-known Australian sportsperson. Using a personality is a modern marketing technique that involves much more than the use of the person's physical image.

The celebration of individuals and the concept of individual fame has been a part of society since ancient times. Today, a celebrity is a person regarded as a well-known public figure - a person whose distinctive identity becomes a marketable commodity in its own right. These distinctions include such things as personal style, name, and reputation.

Fujitsu decided to use the celebrity in personality endorsement, or using the person to inform the public that he approved of their product and was happy to be associated with it, rather than personality merchandising which uses the person's name on their product.

The personality approach was used to build the brand. To measure how well this happens, companies measure brand recall, or how well consumers remember advertising and other messages they have seen about a brand. Fujitsu considered that using Mark Taylor would create links between their products and his appeal in the marketplace, thus building brand recognition. They could measure their success with this through measuring consumer brand recall of the Fujitsu brand and how well consumers associated Mark Taylor with the brand. They also believed that using him would spark renewed interest from the media in their product, thus creating public relations opportunities.

Fujitsu chose Mark Taylor as the appropriate celebrity for two reasons:

  • Relevance
  • The way that the target market would relate to Mark.

Diagram 2

Extensive market research conducted by Fujitsu resulted in the following profile of its target market:

  • Home owners
  • 25 to 44 years old
  • Larger households
  • Young couples with children across all socioeconomic levels.

Source: Roy Morgan research.

 


Planning the campaign

Fujitsu along with McNabb, then planned the campaign and the advertising and public relations tactics. As the company planned to become the market leader and increase year round air conditioning sales, it set these advertising objectives:
  • To build image and awareness of Fujitsu as Australia's leading brand of air conditioning
  • Communicate the benefits of reverse cycle air conditioning compared with other heating systems
  • Develop an integrated advertising point of sale (POS) retail campaign across winter and summer.

The next step, having identified Mark Taylor as the appropriate celebrity (and signing him up!) was to effectively use his endorsement in the campaign.

Diagram 3: Using Mark Taylor in the campaign

So far, we've looked at how Fujitsu identified its business objectives and its corresponding marketing objectives. We then examined why it selected personality endorsement as appropriate to its aims, and how it selected a marketing mix using advertising, public relations, publicity, and sales as its major tactics.

Do you sometimes confuse the meanings of advertising, promotion, publicity, public relations, and sales? This story may make these concepts clearer:

Diagram 4:'The Circus Comes to Town'.

Source: Promoting issues and ideas' by M. Booth and Associates

 


Communication

An objective with the Mark Taylor campaign was to build greater awareness of the Fujitsu brand among the target audience. The key to this was to develop integrated marketing communications involving advertising, public relations, publicity and point of sales material. Adopting this integrated approach meant that these elements of the marketing mix would work together in a unified way, rather than each of them working in isolation.

 

The tactical challenge for Fujitsu was to plan and coordinate these elements to help build brand awareness and sales, and to select the most appropriate media to make this happen.

Fujitsu selected television as the most effective communication medium to reach the target audience on a large scale, and to then support this with radio and press advertising. The three mediums were used together, particularly when Fujitsu planned promotions based around educating consumers and encouraging winter sales.

As the target audience included homeowners, Fujitsu also advertised through lifestyle and homemaker magazines - a tactic specifically designed to reach people when they were thinking about doing something to their home.

POS material was designed to remind consumers of the Fujitsu brand and its link with Mark Taylor at that important time just prior to purchase. This POS material, particularly the life-size images, was also constantly in front of floor sales staff in retail premises reminding them of the links between the products and Mark Taylor.

 


Evaluation

The key to any marketing campaign lies in the results. The results Fujitsu planned to achieve were to increase brand awareness, build market share and achieve market leadership. So, just what did the Mark Taylor campaign achieve?

Objective - to build market share and become the market leader

Fujitsu has built market share and become the market leader since 1998, a result reflected in the Fujitsu company slogan, 'Australia's Favourite Air'.

Diagram 5: Market share (non-ducted air conditioning)

Objective - to increase brand awareness

To measure brand recall, Fujitsu commissioned specialist ongoing research into consumer perceptions of the product. This research asked these questions of a sample of consumers:

  • Which air conditioning brand names are you aware of? (an unprompted recall question)
  • Which brand of air conditioning have you seen advertising for? (an unprompted recall question).

The results clearly demonstrated how awareness of the Fujitsu brand changed over the period. A national figure of 32% (unprompted) brand recall and a 39% national recall of Fujitsu advertising are regarded as good evidence that consumer perception of the brand was positively influenced by Mark Taylor's endorsement.

Objective - use personality endorsement to support business objectives

The air conditioning market uses a specialist research firm to collect data to measure brand awareness. Fujitsu also uses this specific research study (described as an 'omnibus' study) to determine the level of Mark Taylor's acceptance in the marketplace. National data asking whether people had seen the Fujitsu advertising campaign featuring Mark Taylor, as well as whether they thought he was a good representative for Fujitsu were collected. This was then compared with similar data gathered in the Sydney market in 1999 and 2000.

The results were impressive for Fujitsu. 75% of men and 68% of women reported that Mark Taylor was a good representative for the company.

Branding

In an effort to further enhance its brand awareness, Fujitsu entered into a motorsport sponsorship arrangement. There were a number of sponsorship avenues explored, but ultimately V8 Supercar racing was decided as the best medium to achieve this. It offered a truly national platform to promote the Fujitsu brand name over an extended season when compared to more traditional avenues such as football, cricket, etc. The sponsorship initially started with a privateer in the V8 Development Series and has evolved into the creation of the 'Fujitsu Racing' team, competing in both the main V8 Supercar Championship and the V8 Development Series.

This sponsorship serves a dual purpose for Fujitsu - brand exposure to a very wide consumer demographic and the ability to develop much closer customer relationships through on-track experiences and corporate hospitality at the various race meets around Australia. The Fujitsu Racing truck, V8 Supercars and promotional road car are all utilised for various store based promotions throughout the year, aimed at bringing further impact to customers localised advertising activities.

Seasonal Promotional Activity

Fujitsu, like most other air conditioning suppliers, was traditionally affected by a considerable drop in sales at the completion of summer and throughout the winter months. Whilst its specialist air conditioning customers continued to focus on sales on a year round basis, its retailers tended to treat the product as purely a cooling product for summer, ignoring the benefits of reverse cycle air conditioners as viable heating alternative to traditional sources.

In an effort to change this mentality and bring greater consistency to its sales across the entire year, 12 years ago Fujitsu became the first supplier to introduce a winter consumer cashback incentive scheme. A $150 consumer installation bonus was offered by redemption for consumers who purchased and installed a reverse cycle split system air conditioner in the designated period. This promotion was heavily promoted with advertising and point of sales material featuring Mark Taylor. This initiative proved hugely successful for Fujitsu with an increase in sales of over 40% compared with the same period the prior year.

 


Promotion through partnerships

As more and more competitors copied Fujitsu's winter cashback initiative, it looked to again differentiate itself from its competitors. With this in mind, it continued to use Mark Taylor, but now using partnering programs to increase the value of its promotion offer and activities. Partnering with another company is typically used:
  • To offer a temporary reward to customers, provide an incentive ('buy the product, get this as well...')
  • For a limited period only
  • To add value to the company's product through offering or providing an incentive for customers to do certain things.

Fujitsu partnered with energy company Shell. In this partnership customers were rewarded with the other company's product for buying air conditioning products during the winter months. For example, Fujitsu joined with Shell to promote a 'free petrol offer' where purchasers of specific Fujitsu products were offered up to $500 of Shell petrol during the months of May to August. The joint promotion successfully used Mark Taylor as the presenter to increase sales during this period and extended the campaign with his image and quotes appearing on the Shell website.

A similar winter promotion offered 'free phone air time' in partnership with Motorola where purchasers of a specific air conditioner get a mobile phone plus airtime.

Both these types of promotions (fuel and mobile phone with airtime) have been designed to appeal to a wider audience as an alternative to other promotional activities such as 'cashback'.

Fujitsu also partners with its retailers and dealers using Mark Taylor images and short audio/visual vignettes for them to use. The aim here is to encourage them to use these in their own advertising using Mark Taylor with Fujitsu branding. This has not only extended the Fujitsu campaign, but also helped to create extra impact for the brand when, for example, retailers show a series of competing brands in catalogues.

 


Conclusion

In a market continuing to experience growth, as well as dealing with the continuing pressure coming from cheaper brands and products from Korea and China, the Fujitsu brand, endorsed by Mark Taylor, is maintaining its dominance as the market leader in air conditioning products. The use of personality endorsement has been a major factor in Fujitsu achieving its success.

 

(Page 1 of 8)
Associated with:
Learning Area(s):
  • Communication | Effective communication models
  • Marketing | Market research methods/analysis
  • Marketing | Marketing evaluation including use of KPIs
  • Marketing | Promotion strategies and their application
  • Public Relations | PR Tactics and their application
From: Edition 7

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