By Sarah Falson

PRESTON, Vic: Randall Crocker has left distribution company, Castel Electronics, after five years with the company working as the marketing coordinator representing Toshiba home entertainment, TCL air conditioning, Orion and Macintosh brands. 

“A short note to let you know that I have left Castel and am taking some R&R with no immediate plans,” said Crocker in an email sent to certain members of the industry with whom he worked closely throughout his tenure.

“It’s been great working with you over the last 5 years that I’ve been with this company – thanks for your support.”

Crocker plans to “take it easy” until job offers come his way, he told this morning, though he doesn’t necessarily plan to stay within the consumer electronics arena.

“I don’t have a distinct path at present, but I am considering my options, whether they are in the CE industry, or wherever. But wherever I go, it will of course be in a marketing position,” he said.

According to Crocker, there have been “many redundancies” at Castel since the distributor lost the Toshiba Home Entertainment business this month, which is now being run in-house by Toshiba ISD (Information Systems Division) in Sydney.

Crocker’s colleague, Toshiba product manager, Paul Astbury, and Crocker’s unnamed marketing co-ordinator, were also made redundant, along with “a lot of others” who worked on the Toshiba account.

Crocker “has no idea” if he will be replaced, and there is currently no in-house marketing department operating at Castel.

“All I can say for the other staff is that they’re considering their options and looking for other agencies,” said Crocker.

“I am looking at this departure as an opportunity to move on, and to take some time off in the mean time to rest and recoup.”

Crocker has worked in various marketing roles for 20 years, representing consumer electronics, pharmaceutical and supermarket brands. Within these positions he worked also in an advertising capacity, and was responsible for many of Toshiba Home Entertainment’s major advertising and marketing campaigns over the past three years.

“Part of my brief when I joined Castel was to look at the Toshiba range and its evolving distribution in Australia,” said Crocker.

“When I joined, the markets that Toshiba spanned were very fragmented.”

According to Crocker, from 2003 to 2006 were Toshiba’s “golden years”, when the brand was heavily involved in DVD, LCD and rear projection screen marketing.

“I tied back everything to a brand message,” said Crocker, who headed up the brand’s ‘saxophone/tequila’ marketing and advertising strategy that aimed to inject “a little fun” in to Toshiba’s DVD player-market.

“This connected with consumers and showed them that when they buy Toshiba they’ll have fun with it.”

Following on from the ‘saxophone/tequila’ branding message was Crocker’s well-known “There’s television and there’s Toshiba” branding, which represented the Toshiba flatscreen range.

“This campaign was to combat pricing of other brands like LG – our brand was perceived in the market as a brand with quality.”

In 2006, Toshiba backed out of the CRT market all together and changed its tagline to “There’s LCD and there’s Toshiba”, focussing only on LCD distribution.

Crocker was also responsible for bringing TCL air conditioning to the local market in 2004, and in 2005 he created an exclusive marketing position for the product.

Inspired by Dyson’s vacuum cleaner marketing which focused on allergies and asthma-friendly products, Crocker and TCL developed marketing that focused on the clean air output of TCL air conditioners, which differentiated the brand from others such as Fujitsu, which marketed “Australia’s favourite air” and LG, which focused on exterior design.

Due to Crocker’s efforts, the TCL range is still the only air conditioning range that has been through Australian particle count testing, which Crocker said is more appropriate to Australian consumers as it is an Australian standard.

“Having been at Castel for five years and having worked in advertising agencies for 10 years, at various above- and below-the-line-agencies, account service is my background. I was in the grocery industry for seven years as an advertising manager, and all up I’ve had 20 years advertising and marketing practice,” said Crocker.

Toshiba Home Entertainment is currently involved in the next generation DVD format war, and backs the HD DVD format, along with approximately 15 per cent of the market’s film houses and hardware manufacturers.

Speculation has been rife that HD DVD’s competing format, Blu-ray Disc, supported by the likes of Sony, Samsung and Panasonic, will win the war, even though LG has recently developed the world’s first dual-format Blu-ray Disc/HD DVD player which is now selling in the United States.