Sunday, May 24, 2009

Panasonic's Fearless Party

When we throw a party here at the Calandro Casa we always bring our A-game. We go all out with the invitations, food, decorations, favors and we even wear sweatshirts that are decorated with the theme for the party. Our friends and family travel from all over and re-arrange their schedules to be here for the festivities. We enjoy entertaining our friends and celebrating with them. It's just what we do.

We don't get paid for these parties, it's not how we bring money into the house. So, if a party flops it doesn't mean we don't pay our mortgage or we have to lay off members of our family from their jobs. It's just for fun, but we put so much effort into these events you would think that the lifeblood of our family depended on it. Well, our reputation for throwing great parties could get shattered, but we could recover from that ego-bruising pretty easily.

Now consider this twist: We plan for months for a party and the financial stability of our family is crucial to its success. Then we ask our guests to tell us anything and everything we did wrong or anything we did right. We've invited everyone to our house, fed them, entertained them and shared all our best efforts to show them a good time. Then we welcome their criticism as well as their accolades. This means that if people didn't have a good time, we'd have to hear about it and we would have a hard time paying our bills!

This doesn't sound like something I would want to subject myself to, but Panasonic has done this and we were invited to this party.

Panasonic created their Living in HD program as an invitation to a Panasonic Products Party and they want to know what we think of this celebration. This is a fearless approach that can only be created by a company that believes strongly in their product and seriously cares about what their consumers think. If you read back to our earlier posts you can see how this process began and the experiences we have had as a result of Living in HD. In a nutshell, it has changed our lives and we have Panasonic to thank for it. They gave us a suite of products and have asked for our opinions about them. And they really want to know what we think.

You may be thinking we have to say these things because we are a part of this program and we owe it to Panasonic. Well, we don't. Panasonic has never told us we had to say or do anything. In January we were honored to appear at CES in Las Vegas as representatives for the Living in HD program. Our entire family was up on the Panasonic stage to talk about what it was like to live in High Definition. We were not scripted in any way. We were just asked to talk about it-the good or the bad. We have three young boys; if there was something they didn't like or thought was junk it would have come out on stage and there wouldn't have been anything anyone could have done to stop it. What a potential loose-cannon!

We were also asked to do a podcast with Joe Jaffe of Crayon and other members of the Panasonic team. Again, we were invited, but never once were we told what to say. Even this blog you are reading can be whatever we want it to be. We can choose to turn it into a blog about dust-bunnies and their plight in North America and Panasonic wouldn't tell us we couldn't. (That's a joke, but the Panasonic part is true.)

Panasonic took a huge risk putting us out there in front of their audience without any control of what we were going to say. When you are confident in your product and message, you can afford to take risks and let people be who they are.

We are not a family that is in business or marketing, we make our living in education, so we are not experts in the corporate or advertising world. However, we think giving a group of consumers thousands of dollars worth of products and then asking them to tell you what you REALLY think about all of it is pretty outstanding and innovative. And brave. What if the TV stunk? What if the blu-ray player was a lemon and skipped around when playing a regular DVD as opposed to a movie in blu-ray format? What if this laptop I'm using right now malfunctioned when it got milk and cereal spilled all over the keyboard and it wasn't as "tough" as it was said to be? Panasonic would want to hear about it and they would want us to tell others as well. That's how great they know their products are. Panasonic knows the only way they want to compete for consumer dollars is through integrity and transparency. They have nothing to hide.

Who does this? Who invites people into their home, gives them the best of what they have to offer and then genuinely asks, "So, what do you think?" Panasonic does. They do it because they believe in their products, the minds that create them, and the people of their company. They all work together tirelessly to create the best products they can for their consumers. Panasonic wants their products and technology to improve our lives. They feel the best way to do this is by asking their consumer what works and what doesn't, not just relying on sales figures to dictate what the market demands.

Maybe our parties are driven by the same motivation as Panasonic's for their Living in HD program, just on a much smaller scale. We work tirelessly for our parties to be the best they can because we care about our family and friends' well-being. We look at our "product" -our parties - as a way of showing them we are willing to do our best on their behalf, for their entertainment. When our parties are over we assess how the event went; we look at what food was consumed and what is still left on the table. We think about which games were a hit and which ones caused injuries (yes, unfortunately, that has happened!). We don't give our guests formal questionnaires, but we learn from our experience. This is how Panasonic is creating a dialog between creator and consumer and they are listening to what we have to say.

Here's the best part about the Panasonic Party: this invitation doesn't have an end time; it just keeps going. So consider yourself invited to one of the best parties the Calandro Family has ever been a part of. Go to the Panasonic Living in HD community. Join the conversation. Tell them what you think. Be honest. Panasonic is listening and wants to know what you have to say. With Panasonic you are a consumer with a powerful voice. We always love a great party - and we don't have to clean up after this one! Enjoy! And tell them the Calandros sent you!

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