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Shining the Light: Color Kinetics & LED Lighting

The Challenge

In 2007, thanks in part to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," the U.S. was hit by a strong environmental trend that transformed the meaning of words like "sustainability." Kermit the Frog once famously wailed that "It's Not Easy Being Green," but being green now means being environmentally friendly. We started talking about "carbon footprint" and "carbon offsets," and society is becoming more aware of the impact human consumption may have on the earth.

Getting smarter about how we light our world can make an impact on the evironment. But before 2007, most U.S. consumers didn't pay much attention to light bulbs – typically they bought the same incandescent bulbs their parents, grandparents and great grandparents had bought.

That changed when Wal-Mart, which had embraced the green movement, publicy endorsed compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Every major media outlet began writing about CFLs.

For Color Kinetics, a pioneer in LED lighting, the goal was to position its products as a superior green alternative to incandescent and CFL bulbs, and the lighting source for the future. The company had built up a strong IP portfolio and more than 15,000 installations worldwide, mostly in commercian, retail and entertainment spaced. Initially business and consumer reporters weren't interested in LEDs partly because CFLs are available everywhere and fit into traditional light sockets while LEDs don't look like traditional incandescent bulbs and currently don't fit into traditional sockets.

Strategic Execution At Work

Our top priority was to try to interject the benefits of LED lights into the media's mindset, and to leverage opportunities to demonstrate LED's wow factor.

We identified ways Color Kinetics could highlight the environmental benefits of its products:

  • Promoted customer wins that were integral parts of the familiar cityscapes and mainstream products including:
    • Toronto's CN Tower (the world's tallets building).
    • Los Angeles Airport's iconic pylon scupture (KNBC-TV, Los Angeles: "New Light Show To Greet LAX Visitors").
    • The house featured in "Deck the Halls" as an example of intelligent lighting.
    • The interiors of Ford Mustangs.
    • Glade Plug-In's Illumination.
  • Showcased the consumer angle through the story of a Boston-area homeowner who created a design-savvy and green space in his loft.
  • Produced and publicized a head-to-head comparison chart of LEDs vs. CFLs to give reporters the language they needed to frame their stories.
  • Publicized internal research about LED usage trends – "Color Kinetics Projects 75% of Commercial Lighting to Be Led-Based By 2030" – timed to Earth Day 2007.
  • Assisted production of and publicized a Video News Release (VNR).
  • Rasied the profile of Color Kinetics as a green company through its work/support of various U.S. Dept. of Energy initiatives, including:
    • The Solar Decathlon – an international competition for university students.
    • The Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance.
  • Leveraged ongoing corporate initiatives including the company's 10th anniversary and 2nd anniversary as a public company to ring the NASDAQ bell.

Key goals for the ongoing PR program were to raise awareness of LEDs lighting and to showcase it as already in everyday use.

The Results

We generated coverage that communicated key positive messages about LED lights, including headlines like "LEDs move into home lighting market" and "Color Kinetics predicts surge in LED lighting."

Our work raised industry awareness of Color Kinetics as a green company, and culminated with its acquisition by Royal Philips Electronics' Solid-State Lighting Solutions.

Coverage included:

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