Philips and the Quest for Simplicity

Have you ever been annoyed by the subscription cards that fall out of magazines? I guess most people have, they not only interrupt the reading experience but also force you to make an extra run to the trash bin. Incredibly, though, such cards still generate around 12% of magazine’s new subscriptions, no wonder editors stick them wherever they can.

One could argue that they represent a cheap yet targeted advertising technique. It is true, but if a certain publisher managed to switch this source of subscriptions to a less invasive one it could improve the relationship with the readers.

That is exactly what Philips (the Dutch electronics company) is trying to promote. They signed a deal ($ 2 billion) with Hearst Magazines to eliminate all the subscription cards from the September issues of Redbook, Weekend, House Beautiful and At Home.

I think this initiative will help Philips to spread its new corporate vision, called “Sense and Simplicity”. All the mentioned magazines will indeed feature a two-page Philips ad with the line “Simplicity is not having subscription cards fall out of your magazine”.

Back in 2005 I attended a training program within Philips in Europe, and I can assure they are betting heavily on that “simplicity” vision to reshape their brand. Consider that Philips was involved with the invention (and to a certain extent with the innovation) of the Audio Cassette, the Integrated Circuit, the Compact Disc, the first Laser System, the X-Ray and so on; yet if you ask people what comes into their minds when they hear the word Philips they will probably say shavers or toasters…

Hopefully this new campaign will change consumer’s perception about Philips.

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