2M Group Debuts Infomercials for Prolong International

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The 2M Group is rolling out two new infomercials this month for Prolong International Corp., Irvine, CA. The shows highlight Prolong's Super Lubricant and Ultimate Car Care Kit, which have a combined annual revenue of more than $35 million since 2M took the account in 1997.

Both infomercials are running on local broadcasters and national cable. They focus on one product, the Super Lubricant and Paint Sealant but also include five separate branded car products for $39.95. The company is launching the infomercials to coincide with spring, when car owners start thinking about cleaning their vehicles. The products are available at more than 18,000 retail stores such as Target, Checkers and Wal-Mart.

According to Michael McGahee, the president of 2M, Clearwater, FL, his company's DRTV market research, proprietary media buying database software and product positioning have been instrumental in Prolong's success.

"Many major corporations end up with big ad agencies that don't want to track their campaigns properly," said McGahee. "Even when you are doing brand, you are setting up a baseline; you are monitoring to find whether you should fix it or not fix it. If we do well on TV by the baseline number, the retail will go up."

When Prolong came to 2M, the agency had produced an infomercial that starred Olympic Gold Medal winner Bruce Jenner. According to McGahee, 2M scrapped everything but one computer enhanced graphic and started fresh with the client.

"The DRTV campaigns are the backbone for these products," said McGahee. "When we got the account in 1997, we immediately set out to create a brand where there was none before."

McGahee largely credits his company's success to a media buying database software system that 2M exclusively developed to help its clients sell to the right people in the right place and time. He said that with this system, he can make one phone call to the tech department and, in seconds, find out what the campaign's effectiveness has been. He said that the mixture of this database with a media buying philosophy borrowed from other television campaigns has helped the company brand products like Prolong's Ultimate Car Care Kit and Super Lubricant.

"We broke new ground when we borrowed from the Fortune 500 companies in terms of media buying," said McGahee. "We started following some patterns that had previously been used by these companies for 30-second spots for years, but no one had ever used them for half-hour infomercials. We tried it, and it worked."

"Market research is our No. 1 priority," said McGahee, adding that 2M concentrates specifically on an individual emotional response to find where the product is best positioned and what audiences to target. It does not use focus groups. According to McGahee, regardless of the moderator or situation, a focus group is the worst way to gauge a product's marketability because it takes attention away from the individual and leads groups to conclusions that they might not formulate if surveyed as individuals.

According to McGahee, when 2M did surveys for the Prolong infomercials, the agency was extremely careful not to lead people.

McGahee said that although Prolong has e-commerce Web sites, the infomercials will not feature them until well after they have aired. He cites numerous occasions in the past, both in DRTV and print, where using the Web site actually hindered the campaign because the call to action is less effective in getting people to boot up a PC than simply calling. He said that with DRTV, it is wiser to test two shows, one with the site and one without, before committing resources to build a site. But, he adds, in a lead-generating specific campaign, a Web site is invaluable.

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