DRTV Campaign Gets Golf Start-up out of Rough

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Start-up company Trinity Golf ran an infomercial to promote its new Stiletto II Beta Ti driver to a normally skeptical golfing audience, and the campaign has yielded 75,000 sales this year, meeting and exceeding the company's expectations.


The campaign's success is testimony to the power of direct response television in launching new golf products, according to Script to Screen, the direct response agency that designed the campaign and recently announced the results. Script to Screen has also run infomercials for the brands Adams Golf, PureSpin Golf and Alien Sport.


Trinity Golf expected sales of the Stiletto II driver to reach $15 million this year, and it now appears that sales will be very close to goal, said Greg Debenon, CEO of Trinity Golf, Tustin, CA. The infomercial has helped get Trinity Golf get its foot into the door of the golf equipment market.


New golf equipment companies cannot compete with the advertising budgets of established retailers, so branded advertising did not seem to be a good option, Debenon said. Infomercials are more affordable because they make money on the front end and thus pay their own way, giving new firms like Trinity Golf an opportunity to improve its brand while making sales at the same time.


"Our goal is to penetrate the golf market and get space in golf shops around the world," Debenon said.


The half-hour infomercial, which debuted in January, featured a long-ball competition, in which the Stiletto II squared off against other popular driver brands, including Taylor Made, Callaway and Titleist. Three separate events were shown, each trying to prove that the Stiletto II driver was capable of hitting the ball the farthest.


In one event, three long-ball competitors, golfers who specialize in long drives, tested the drivers in the competition. In the second event, a machine known as an Iron Bryon, designed to test golf clubs, swung each driver, while in the third event a computerized launch monitor was used to test the drivers.


Golfing consumers tend to be better-heeled than average infomercial buyers, with golfers tending to be males with household incomes in excess of $80,000 a year and possessing education levels above high school, said Tony Kerry, senior vice president of marketing at Script To Screen, Santa Ana, CA. They tend to look for direct proof of a product's performance level, so holding a competition makes sense.


"We can't just say, 'Take our word for it,' " Kerry said. "We know from past experience that you want to prove it to them."


Competitive events featured in the infomercial were filmed at the Oak Valley Golf Club in High Desert, CA. The infomercial asks consumers to call a toll-free number for more information, which includes an offer for the driver for $325, including shipping, a 90-day guarantee and a free four-wood club.


The first tests of the infomercial were held in September 2000. The tests were a success, but Trinity delayed full rollout of the campaign because golf sales tend to drop off at the end of the year and because it needed time to build its fulfillment infrastructure.


The infomercial debuted in January on The Golf Channel as well as regional and local sports channels, such as the Fox Sports affiliates.


With sales of a new product fully under way, many golf equipment retailers would typically begin investing heavily in branded advertising. But Debenon said Trinity Golf expects to stick with the DRTV sales medium that has made his company successful so far.


"You want to dabble a little bit in traditional advertising," Debenon said. "But our plan is to stay with direct marketing tactics."


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