Prior to bringing on Kwittken and Peppercomm, Sharp selected Ketchum in April 2011 to handle both b-to-b and consumer work, said Chris Loncto, director of marketing communications at Sharp Electronics. Ketchum deferred comment to Sharp.
“We conducted this search following the reorganization that we undertook last year, when the responsibility for many of the marketing communications activities, not just PR but advertising, Web development, and social, were moved from a centralized marketing organization to the individual product groups,” he explained.
Last year, Sharp discontinued its marketing department and planned to reassign the roles within the company's individual business units. The marketing department was made up of PR, advertising, and social media.
Loncto added that each of the product groups assumed responsibility for their own marcomms efforts, and bringing on separate agencies helped the business better align with its needs.
The consumer review involved five agencies and two rounds. Kwittken rose to the top because of its “strong consumer and lifestyle approach,” said Loncto. He declined to name the other agencies in the RFP or disclose the account's budget.
Sharp previously worked with Kwittken on its August 2011 Elite LED TV launch. Loncto said the company was impressed with the firm's efforts and expertise at that time.
The initial contract for the consumer electronics product group, which includes LED TVs, small appliances, and air purification products, is one year.
“As an organization, we're trying to position ourselves more as a lifestyle brand to consumers rather than only a technology brand, and we felt that Kwittken really understood that,” explained Loncto.
He added that Kwittken will not handle social media, but the agency will work closely with the company's social media firm Rokkan.
Following the b-to-b agency review, Peppercomm was chosen by Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, a division of Sharp Electronics that markets multi-function printers that help businesses manage workflow and increase productivity.
The unit's b-to-b business has two sides: its document management business and professional audio-video products, such as displays, monitors, and projectors, said Grace Hellmold, associate director of marketing communications at Sharp Electronics.
“[Peppercomm] had good experience in both areas,” she said. “They are a better fit. I think our efforts were a little diluted prior having one agency trying to cover so many different channels.”
Hellmold declined to disclose the other agencies that participated in the review, the budget, or the length of the contract.
Edward Moed, cofounder and managing partner at Peppercomm, said the firm will promote document management, which includes multi-function copiers and printers, as well as handle b-to-b efforts for the company's technology business.
With a team of seven staffers on the account, the agency will help Sharp with positioning and messaging, media relations, experiential work, digital support, and thought leadership, he said. Peppercomm will also handle b-to-b social media initiatives to ensure an “integrated approach across the board,” said Hellmold.
Peppercomm's goal for the account is “to build a stronger image in this arena for Sharp, especially within document management, among the competitive set, and ultimately help them increase sales,” added Moed.