PolyGram Builds Database Through CD-ROM Mailing

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PolyGram Video, Los Angeles, has built a database of independent video store owners in a matter of weeks from responses to a CD-ROM mailing that invited recipients to participate in an interactive sweepstakes.

A series of mailings that included the CD-ROM and a promotional kit highlighting PolyGram's three latest video releases were sent in February and March to more than 10,000 video retailers drawn from inhouse and rented lists. Close to 20,000 more CD-ROMs were polybagged to segments of subscribers to the trade publication Video Dealer, based on criteria supplied by PolyGram.

Responses started coming the day after each mailer dropped, and the game show trivia contest imbedded in the CD-ROM generated almost four times as many retail entries in the first three days as previous direct mail contests, said Ken Graffeo, senior vice president of marketing for PolyGram parent Universal.

Through April, the contest had populated the PolyGram database with "a couple of thousand entries" that include the name, address and e-mail address of each entrant's video store, Graffeo said.

The CD-ROM, developed by Media Designs Interactive, New York, features theatrical trailers, film outtakes and cast biographies from the motion pictures Elizabeth, Very Bad Things and Orgazmo.

Users were invited to win prizes by entering a trivia contest that tested their knowledge of the new releases. They entered the contest through a link to the PolyGram Web site (www.polygram.com) that also stored their information in a database. A random drawing will be held this month to award $70,000 worth of DVD players and other electronics prizes.

Research by PolyGram had revealed that traditional communications to store owners through print advertising in trade publications failed to generate awareness of new releases. Seeking a platform to communicate with and educate the hard-to-reach segment of smaller, independent retailers, the company turned to the CD-ROM.

"It was really a first,'' Graffeo said. "What really sells our products is the visuals, so we put together this fun, interactive CD that took them through a program and promoted the videos."

Prior direct mail contests from PolyGram had required store owners to fill in and return surveys. The CD-ROM streamlined the entry process by connecting users through the Internet.

"CD-ROM for direct mail is proven to draw response," said Jim Wexler, director of marketing for Media Designs, which develops branded games and other interactive vehicles for retail and packaged goods clients. "The prizes incentivized participation, and being able to instantly click through to the Web site eliminated a barrier to entry.''

PolyGram relies on a sales force to reach the national video chains but had been forced to fish through myriad of lists to find the little guys. It can now rely on a fresh database for future communications.

"It's something we are taking a look at long term," Graffeo said. "To come up with a [marketing] format and continue with it, the costs will be much less."

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