Differentiation through Product Seeding


Japan’s mobile phone carriers make it a rule to announce a slew of new handsets several times a year, holding splashy kickoff events that resemble the seasonal extravaganzas produced by Europe’s leading fashion houses. Considered de rigueur, these events are more about the bells and whistles of promotion than the nuts and bolts of competitive differentiation. As such, we were approached by the client to design and execute a public relations campaign that would clearly define the benefits to consumers of its new devices and services.


We knew that our client was competing in a saturated market – greater than 95 percent penetration – characterized by customer loyalty, so we turned our attention to the one demographic that could be motivated to move: people who approach the purchase of a mobile handset as a lifestyle choice. Our target publications were quality women’s, men’s and lifestyle magazines.

We also knew that with the exception of a small group of mobile technology fanatics few people ever made the most of the advanced features bundled into their handsets. So TOCS convinced the client to commit to a seeding program under which lent pre-release handsets to each publication, walking the editor and reporter through all of the features and allowing them to “test drive” the phones in their daily lives.

In the process of developing the consumer-focused media program, we created an opportunity with a business publication to explore the design and development of the client’s new internet-capable device.


Our work with fashion and lifestyle magazines paid off in a series of special in-depth articles demonstrating the user proposition for many of the client’s key handsets. In exchange for access to its design team, meanwhile, the client was rewarded by the business publication with a 5-page special feature, “Power in the Field – Making of an Internet Device,” that revealed the story behind the development of a groundbreaking handset with smartphone features.

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