Drs. Foster and Smith schedule screen time

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Cataloger Drs. Foster and Smith is trying its hand at syndicated television.

With a successful two-year-old direct response TV program already in its arsenal, the direct marketer of pet supplies plans to launch a show next year that will feature advice from founding veterinarians Dr. Race Foster and Dr. Marty Smith, as well as appearances by other animal experts and pet-owning celebrities.

“From the beginning, Drs. Foster and Smith has been about a couple of educationally oriented guys,” said Gordon Magee, Internet marketing and analysis manager at the Rhinelander, WI-based company.

The cataloger says that on the TV show, Doctors Foster and Smith's Faithful Friends, the veterinarians will provide the same advice to pet owners that can be found in its 10 catalogs and online brands.

“We felt that [the TV show] was a niche that would be very helpful to pet owners,” Magee said, adding that more than 60% of US homes have a pet.

A secondary goal of the new strategy is to build awareness for the Drs. Foster and Smith brand.

“As we educate consumers and develop a trust relationship with them, that will translate into them buying products,” Magee continued.

The shows themselves won't be a vehicle for selling product — both Drs. Foster and Smith products and products from other brands will make appearances. However, the DRTV spots could do better because more people will recognize the brand from watching the show, Magee said.

Drs. Foster and Smith's DRTV spots are produced in-house and the media buying is done through A. Eicoff and Company.

There could also be some cross-channel synergy. The show will plug the Drs. Foster and Smith Web site each week by encouraging viewers to vote for a veterinarian of the year award. Promoting a positive relationship between pet owners and veterinarians is another of Drs. Foster and Smith's goals, Magee said.

To help build viewership of the show, it will be featured in the catalog and Web site. In addition, a public relations tour in the markets where the show will air is planned for the first quarter of 2008. Syndication of the 30-minute, 13-episode series is being handled by New Vision Syndication.

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