NEC Technologies Unleashesa Marketing Hero

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To get rental and staging organizations interested in its NightHawk Series MultiSync XT5000 projector, NEC Technologies Inc. has launched a new Web site supported by a large direct mail offer featuring an animated action-hero named Nighthawk.

A 20,000-postcard mailing featuring the sunglass-clad, motorcycle-riding NightHawk character dropped in March. Using the fictional action hero as the centerpiece of the campaign is designed to appeal to distributors who are "techie, comic book, Dungeons and Dragons-type people," said Jonathon Sackett, director of interactive for the Townsend Agency, an integrated relationship-marketing firm in Chicago which created the campaign.

The animated mailing was designed to draw rental and staging groups as well as education, corporate, religious and entertainment groups to The postcard also highlights the on-site sweepstakes offer in which entrants can win a DVD player, NightHawk leather jacket or NightHawk denim shirt.

"We recognized that there were few rental and staging organizations out there, and we wanted to create the 'lone wolf' identity," said Kathleen Marini, marketing manger for projectors for the visual systems division at NEC Technologies, a leading manufacturer of premium imaging peripherals used in IMAX and other theaters. "We hope to create awareness for the entire lineup available from NEC Technologies. We are already seeing this in the responses on direct mail."

Users find an interactive comic book at the site. The plot is provided in dribs and drabs to keep drawing users back to the site.

The plot follows Nighthawk as he travels through the city doing battle against the evil Darc who wants to keep the dark and dingy theatres and other facilities just as they are. Nighthawk works to conquer the villain, racing from a music arena to a movie theatre and university auditorium, replacing their antiquated projection units with new NEC projectors in each.

"It's intriguing because you want to get to the end of the story," said Sackett. "The product is really neat stuff, but how do you convey neat or cool about a projector? That's why we used the old-fashioned, comic book style."

In the middle of the story, readers are encouraged to complete a registration form to enroll for special offers. If they did so by April 1, they received a free Mag Lite.

This information may be used for future e-mail direct marketing campaigns, which are expected to be dynamic, Sackett said. NEC is considering using an HTML-based e-mail to further propel the comic book feel and promote the site.

The NightHawk site also allows users to download additional information such as a user's manual and color brochure.

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