Panasonic customers saw the light

Paul    June 9, 2015

Organization Name: Panasonic Corporation

Industry: Electronics

CEO: Kazuhiro Tsuga

Web References: allBusiness ExpertsCoscheduleCut Out The DarknessPanasonic

Do you feel like buying something? Not just that cup of coffee, but how about buying the deeper satisfaction you get when you see an eco tag on the cup that contains the coffee? A connection is made at the emotional level. Companies want your loyalty and to gain it, they want you to respond emotionally to their brands, products and market story. Panasonic wanted it’s customers to feel their brand and the “Cut Out The Darkness Campaign” lit that feeling. Panasonic engaged customers to see, hear, share, experience and therefore feel their story on an integrated web and social media platform. Though the notion of emotional marketing can appear to be a little lofty as a science – there is some supporting research. Panasonic’s campaign demonstrated a sophisticated strategy to get to their customers on an emotional level. Was Panasonic’s feel good story good for business?

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100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project

Panasonic’s Cut Out The Darkness Campaign, as built on the platform of their 100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project, was based on a profound fact; 1.32 Billion people in the world do not have electricity. Some people in the world still live in darkness when the sun goes down. Furthermore, those without electricity must rely on burning wood and kerosene for cooking and heat. The smoke from home fires is detrimental to health and kills. Without light, the social and economical impacts on those affected are significant; as nighttime working, studying and medical care is near impossible. Panasonic is aiming to contribute 100,000 solar LED lanterns to people to people without electricity by 2018 (100 year anniversary). Panasonic is not alone in bringing light to millions; they had asked their customers to join them.

Panasonics Appeal to the World: “Sunshine To Their Hearts”

Help Cut Out the Darkness 

Panasonic presented to people who visited the program website the opportunity to learn, in a heartwarming (and wrenching) way, of the plight of those who are impacted by the lack of electricity. The richly designed web site offered visitors the tools to design their own lantern designs and these where displayed for everyone to see. Visitors then voted on the most inspiring designs. The winning lantern designs went to production and formed the encasement for the LED lights that Panasonic delivered to program recipients. Project contributors where able to share their designs more personally on twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. The lanterns project was further integrated with a dedicated Facebook page.

A Customer Feels Engaged 

Panasonic’s Cut Out The Darkness campaign did more than just float messaging copy. The rich media deployed was an emotional appeal to viewers. While seeing and hearing of the plight of those who struggle without electricity, viewers of Panasonic’s media could not avoid strong feelings of empathy. The call to action, notably designing something to be part of a solution, likely posed feelings of deeper satisfaction in reconciling a dissonance between passively watching a fellow human suffer and doing something about it. In addition to the emotional response by campaign viewers and participants, individuals became proponents or advocates for the larger Panasonic mission by externalizing their involvement across social media. The artistry involved, the somewhat primal metaphor of light itself, and the emotional response by Panasonic potential and current customers embodied an emotional response to the Panasonic brand itself. Does a customer engagement effort such as Panasonic’s lead to customer loyalty or sales?

Social Media and Emotion 

According to a Motista study, customers who use social media are more emotionally connected to the brands that they follow.

From: “Your Guide To Connecting With Customers Using Social Media”, by Julie Neidlinger


Given that social media users have a positive emotional relationship to the brands that they follow (46%), it’s probable that such users act positively towards purchasing from these brands. Further, social media followers build identities around the products and brands that they use and want to share their identities.

Based on Neidlinger’s research, a general “emotional marketing”/social media model looks something like this:



Panasonic: Did the Model Fit?

Intense images of infants, children and women directly having their lives enriched by the simple light that most of us take for granted motivated thousands of viewers to take action and participate in Panasonics lantern design challenge. There where no prizes of cash or electronics. Aside from occasional cases of artistic showcasing, there must have been a motivator. The motivator was the feeling of empathy. Panasonic’s integrative approach, i.e. web page, twitter hash tag, and a dedicated Facebook page took the reach further to social media. The challenge for Panasonic was to link the campaign to outcomes of product sales and returning customer sales – here measurement is the key. Campaign participants vastly shared their lantern design experience through their own networks including: personal tweets, instagrams, Pintrest pins and Facebook pages. Panasonic clearly engaged their customers in an emotionally positive way, leveraging an integrated eco-system of people and technology.

Panasonic’s Cut Out The Darkness campaign was a substantive example of customer engagement driven by the emerging strategy of emotional marketing. The story was felt and shared. Ultimately customer engagement is about loyalty and sales. Did Panasonic sell more products as a result of their approach? Maybe. However, when we see, or as Panasonic intends; feel their brand story, that flat screen decision gets a little nudge.



Submitted by; Paul Baumgartner, University of Waterloo SMBP

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