Savin Advertising Connects with Customers

In the late 1970s and early 80s Savin Corp. used a very effective comparative advertising campaign to overtake Xerox and become the top brand of office copiers in America. With the help of small, inexpensive copiers made by Ricoh Corporation of Japan but sold in the United States under the Savin brand, the company caught Xerox off guard by running advertising comparing its products directly against the market leader. However, a decision to manufacture the copiers in-house at a new factory in Binghamton, New York, caused a severe financial crisis that ultimately led to Savin's filing for bankruptcy protection in 1992. A year after emerging from bankruptcy proceedings in 1994, Savin agreed to be acquired by Ricoh. Since being acquired, Savin is getting back to what it did best: marketing copiers made by Ricoh under its own name primarily through its own network of dealers that sell directly to companies. And creative advertising has been an important part of its strategy for gaining market share by positioning Savin as a feisty and committed company with the best products, service, and support, as well as willingness to take on the competition.

Savin's first campaign after being purchased by Ricoh was launched in 1996 and used the tagline "We're going to win you over." The goal of the campaign was to build awareness of and add value to the brand name and to place Savin on the "considered list" of the middle managers who influence or make the copier purchase decisions for their company. A year later Savin launched the second phase of the campaign, which focused on document management and product line attributes, and the tagline evolved into "We've got what it takes to win you over." The first two phases of the campaign leveraged Savin's renewed focus on people, products, and programs and positioned the company as faster and easier to do business with. However,the market was changing rapidly with the emergence of digital technology that offered improved output quality in black and white and color as well as network connectivity.

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The merging of printing and copying functionality changed the marketing focus, as more companies were offering products with similar benefits to the same customers. However,the target audience within companies was shifting. The traditional copier buyer, such as an office manager, was no longer the only person involved in the purchase decision or was losing power to information technology (IT) departments. Moreover, Savin's competitors such as Xerox, Canon, and Hewlet-Packard were seen as the safe choice, and there was still a need to position the company as a viable player in the digital office equipment market.

In 1998 Savin launched the "Alternative to Xerox" campaign. The comparative ads piggybacked off Xerox's efforts to promote new digital copiers and mocked Xerox for wanting to be the "biggest" document company. Savin's ads positioned the company as the "fastest, most responsive and easy to work with name in the business." Savin's CEO, Jim Ivy, noted: "Going toe to toe with Xerox is part of our history. People remember Savin going after Xerox." And since there was a need to reach both existing copier buyers and new customers in the IT space, Savin felt the ad campaign would ring a bell with them. When the comparative campaign began in mid-1998, Savin had a small 2.9 percent share of the U.S. office-copier market, placing it a lowly eleventh out of 14 brands, while Xerox led the industry with a 16.4 percent market share. However, in 1998 and 1999 Savin's growth in sales outpaced that of all major providers of document output systems, and the company nearly doubled its digital sales.

While Savin's comparative campaign was very successful, by 2000 market conditions had changed, causing the company to reconsider its creative strategy. Negative press reports about financial, sales, and marketing issues at Xerox raised concern about using the company as a reference point in Savin advertising and positioning itself as an alternative to the troubled competitor. Also, with the growth of the Internet, intranets, e-mail, and fax machines, the office environment was changing from a "print and distribute" approach to more of a "distribute and print" process. Thus in 2001 Savin decided to take its advertising in a different direction to position the company as an attractive player in the digital office equipment market with its "Think Inside the Box" campaign. The objective of the new creative strategy is to convince decision makers that Savin provides both the advanced digital imaging solutions they need and the customer-focused attitude they want to support all of their network printing and copying requirements. A softening of media costs due to the advertising recession opened the opportunity for Savin to use television advertising for the first time in recent years as part of the campaign, and three 15-second spots were created. The shift to TV makes it possible to broaden awareness of Savin, maximize impact, and generate excitement among its dealer partners. However, creativity was important to enable the spots to break through the clutter, which they have done successfully. Savin is enjoying almost double-digit growth in a category that has experienced a 2 percent annual decline in recent years.

Companies have been responding very favorably to Savin's easy-to-do-business-with philosophy and its ability to provide solutions to all of their printing and copying needs. They also have been responding well to Savin's advertising, which has helped build awareness of the company and position it as a major player in the digital office equipment market.

Sources: Personal correspondence with Louise Stix, Manager of Corporate Communications and Creative Services, Savin Corporation; Raju Narisetti, "Savin Hopes Campaign Will Boost Image," The Wall Street Journal, May 19,1998, p. B10; "Savin Corp. Having Award-Winning Year," Business Wire, June 8,1999.

couple using Philips Pastel bulbs to create a romantic mood (Exhibit 9-27). While the purpose of the campaign was to help Philips make inroads into General Electric's dominance in the lightbulb market, many consumers did not notice the Philips brand name. A survey showed that many viewers thought the ads were for GE lightbulbs. Surveys taken a year later by the agency that created the campaign showed that brand

Exhibit 9-27 Some advertising experts think these Philips Lighting commercials may have been too creative and overwhelmed the message

Exhibit 9-27 Some advertising experts think these Philips Lighting commercials may have been too creative and overwhelmed the message

Philips Softone Pastels

(Partial overhead of living room. Man reads paper. Wife walks in with Pastel bulbs, goes straight to lamp). ANNCR: For a change of mood, (Wife turns off lamp, as husband ignores her). ANNCR: Change to Philips Softone Pastel lightbulbs. (Woman switches on lamp. It now gives a warm peach hue to the whole room). MUSIC. (Piano riff) (Shot over piano as man sings).

MAN: I'm in the mood for love. Simply because . . . (Woman slides into frame with bottle of champagne). MAN: (Singing) you're near me. (Suddenly, the cork pops out and flies at the man). MAN: Funny but when you're SFX: Cork pop. (Cork hits man on forehead, leaving a little impression).

SFX: Bop! (He's stunned into silence for a brief moment. He launches back into the song with great enthusiasm).

(Woman puts bottle in bucket at left of piano and slides next to him).

MAN: I'm in the mood for love. ANNCR: Make everything seem more beautiful . . . (All the colors are represented. Each bulb lights up in sequence from left to right. "Philips" clicks on) . . .

ANNCR: With new Softone Pastels. It's time to change your bulb to Philips.

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