Scarlet the “Hit New TV Series” Unveiled
Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 May 2008 – LG Electronics (LG), a leading player in the global flat panel display market, last night unveiled Scarlet, the world’s slimmest LCD TV, at Constitutional Hill in Gauteng as the culmination of a special marketing campaign orchestrated by high-profile TV series director David Nutter.
On the evening of 8 May, South African celebrities including Yvonne Chaka Chaka, DJ Fresh, Brian Boloy gathered at the Scarlet TV Series Premiere Event to attend what they believed was the world premiere of David Nutter’s latest project, “Scarlet.”
Promoted as “The Hit New TV Series,” the Scarlet project appeared to star Natassia “Scarlet” Malthe, a multicultural actress with unique, mysterious and yet universal charm, as the title character.
As the screening room went dark, the Scarlet trailer that had been seen on TV and online ran, followed by a making-of and behind-the-scenes feature. This was followed by another 60-second trailer for Scarlet, similar to the first one, but with a twist: in this one, Scarlet was clearly not what she seemed.
Now, for the first time, the audience learned the secret behind the campaign – that “Scarlet, The Hit New TV Series” wasn’t about a new drama, but in fact referred to a series of new Full HD LCD TVs by LG Electronics.
“To win the game, we had to change the rules,” said Kwan-Sup (KS) Lee, Vice President of LG Electronics Digital Display Global Brand Marketing Team. “We had to think and act differently in everything we do in order to change the perception of the LG brand. Being different might be risky, but we took that risk to make a breakthrough.”
At the mock premiere last night, the audience’s reception reaffirmed LG’s clever strategy of tweaking of the meaning of “TV series” in order to increase interest and impact. Making the process of a TV launch itself a double-layered dramatic plot, LG Electronics proved itself to be a master of marketing, in addition to a television manufacturer.
The TV and the Campaign
The company’s 2008 flagship LCD TV, LG60 now known as Scarlet, actually first made its debut at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. At just 1.7 inches (45mm) thick, it is the world’s slimmest LCD TV with a distinctive look. Even from the development stage, LG gave a special persona to this uniquely-designed TV. “Because the Scarlet TV was so unique in design, we felt almost like we were meeting someone in person - a beauty with a brain. That triggered the creative inspiration to develop a completely new marketing campaign that no one in LG – or even in the industry - had tried before,” said Mr. Lee.
LG’s personification of the TV broke down into several different areas, based on the set’s features. Its distinctive red-hued back, color-changing LED light power aperture and invisible speaker (“dazzling”); TruMotion 100Hz reducing blur on fast-moving scenes and sound tuned by Mr. Mark Levinson (“exciting”); an Intelligent Sensor for automatic picture adjustments (“intelligent”); and Expert Mode and A/V Hot Key for refined tuning (“extraordinary”). These became part of the marketing messages, and the guiding principles in selecting a real-life “Scarlet” to personify them.
When David Nutter, Hollywood’s “king of the TV pilot,” signed up to participate in the project, Mr. Lee knew the project would work, as Nutter’s involvement provided instant credibility to outsiders that this was really a new TV series. It also made the entire team at LG confident that they could pull this idea off. “From the first moment when LG team came to me with the campaign idea, I just knew it was right,” said Nutter. “There was no hesitation.”
David Nutter himself chose the leading lady, Scarlet. He wanted her to be intelligent and mysteriously beautiful like the television set and have a more multicultural background to appeal to wider audiences. Finally, half Norwegian-half Malaysian actress Natassia Malthe was chosen, and the buzz around her began to grow as she attended film premieres and fashion shows in character, from the BAFTAs in London to the Oscars in Los Angeles. The elaborately-planned publicity campaign even included rumors of romantic links to major celebrities, to create further awareness.
Meanwhile, Raymond Khoury, author of the international best-selling novel The Last Templar, was brought on board to write the script and treatment for the television commercials. Actors AJ Buckley (“CSI: NY”) and Assaf Cohen (“Entourage”) were also signed up to make cameo appearances in the television commercials, directed by David Nutter and aired globally in the run-up to the launch.
Involving both on- and offline marketing activities, the campaign went through a top secret pre-reveal and then post-reveal phase, reflected online at first at www.scarletseries.tv and later at www.LGScarlet.tv.
Scarlet finally revealed her secret, completing one of the most daring marketing campaigns ever to be executed by a major consumer brand. The truth was out and LG had succeeded in pulling off a major coup that would change the landscape of the flat panel TV industry forever. However, that’s not the end of the story.
“The Scarlet campaign did not end today – it’s just beginning,” said Mr. Lee. “We are already working on the next stage – but of course I can’t tell you right now.” Smiling, he added, “Stay tuned and find out.” Or, as they say in television, “To be continued …”