CAMPAIGNS: JSR Micro revamps image to compete with larger players

PR Team: JSR Micro (Sunnyvale, CA) and TateAustin (Austin, TX) Campaign: Materials Innovation for JSR Micro Time Frame: Mid-2002 - ongoing Budget: About $500,000 for the first 18 months

PR Team: JSR Micro (Sunnyvale, CA) and TateAustin (Austin, TX) Campaign: Materials Innovation for JSR Micro Time Frame: Mid-2002 - ongoing Budget: About $500,000 for the first 18 months

JSR Micro sells chemicals used in semiconductor manufacturing. Serving a small, niche market, and accustomed to the sensibilities of its Japanese parent company, JSR Micro has traditionally maintained a low profile. However, a new product recently brought the firm into direct competition with Dow Chemical's well-tuned marketing machine. "We realized we needed to develop something to make sure our message was heard," says Vic Marriott, formerly the company's Southwestern sales manager in Dallas. He became manager of JSR Micro's newly created marketing department in early 2002. "This is a bit of an experiment," he admits. The industry's shy child hired TateAustin to help bring it out of its shell. Strategy JSR Micro's bread-and-butter products are "photoresist" chemicals that are typically sprayed onto semiconductor wafers. Its new product, however, uses a "spin on" technique that competes directly with a Dow offering. "These are big, big issues that have to do with how chip manufacturers are going to meet the demand of producing smaller, faster chips," says TateAustin VP Dave Shaw. Tactics To determine how its client could best compete on the same marketing field as Dow, TateAustin conducted in-depth, 20-minute phone interviews with JSR Micro's customers and with industry analysts. They found an overall perception of JSR Micro as a company of smart engineers who devoted individual attention to customers. Using those findings, TateAustin developed the tagline "Materials Innovation" and the marketing theme "Innovation One-on-One." The agency also recommended that the company, formerly JSR Microelectronics, change its name. The new name is less confusing, since the company doesn't sell electronics, but rather chemicals used in making them, Marriott explains. TateAustin also developed a logo and marketing materials. "For the first time, we're actually using human faces," says Marriott, adding that previous sales literature relied mainly on product data. The campaign put a strong emphasis on trade shows, with TateAustin redesigning JSR Micro's booth in time for a major industry conclave in February. Trade reporters say media relations staff contacted them in advance to schedule executive interviews and invite them to a breakfast reception - outreach not typical for the company in the past. Media relations focused not on papering the trades with press releases, but on developing and maintaining relationships with journalists, says Missy Bindseil, an SAE at TateAustin who also edited technical papers submitted to trade publications. In addition, TateAustin developed presentation templates for the sales force and wrote items for employee newsletters about the marketing campaign. The agency is currently revamping the company's website. In Japan, the parent company began using the "Materials Innovation" tagline on business cards and train-station advertising, inspiring TateAustin to develop ad signs for the San Jose and San Francisco airports. Results JSR Micro's market share is rising, and its sales increased 27% in the past year. "It's difficult to identify what the reasons were for that," explains Marriott, who doubts that PR has had a huge impact on the bottom line yet, since sales to the company's elite client list can take three to six years from first contact, he notes. Trade reporters say they have taken notice of JSR Micro's media relations campaign, and have written about the company recently or plan to include it in relevant stories. Bindseil says media impressions are up in the neighborhood of 300%, and the quality of coverage has improved greatly. Future JSR Micro recently renewed TateAustin's contract for another year, charging the firm with continuing to aggressively develop substantive marketing messages and ideas, and adding more advertising. Tasks will include helping JSR Micro expand into a new market segment of products used to polish wafers at various stages of the manufacturing process.

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