Experian Takes Campaign to the Air(waves)

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Experian expects to fly high as it airs commercials on all North American flights for United Airlines and American Airlines this month in preparation for the Direct Marketing Association's 82nd Annual Conference & Exhibition.

The ads encourage fliers to visit Experian's booth at next week's conference in Toronto and lists the company's Web site and toll-free number. They also focus on the company's theme for the DMA show this year - "Passport to Opportunity." That theme, according to Patrick Bernardi, director of marketing communications at Experian, Orange, CA, plays on the global nature of the DMA show this year as well as the global nature of Experian itself.

"We really want to focus on what our customers are interested in, what their customers' needs are and how Experian is uniquely positioned to help them accomplish their goals," he said.

The 30- and 90-second commercials are being used to attract attendees as well as inform business travelers.

"We've obviously looked at this very carefully, and our most captive audience is going to be that business flier," Bernardi said.

While direct marketers have used in-flight magazines to show off their products and services before previous DMA conferences, the use of an in-flight commercial is new. Experian is spending $350,000 for its entire DMA show initiative this year, Bernardi said.

"Our main goal was to drive some unique and nontraditional tactics for our presence," he said. "We thought this approach gave us the biggest bang for our buck in terms of number of eyeballs."

Experian, which started planning the program over the summer, has partnered with Osiris Entertainment Inc., Boca Raton, FL, on the project. Osiris produced the ads and had them placed on the airplanes. Because of a strategic alliance Osiris has with Lycos Inc., Waltham, MA, Experian also is running a key-word program on Lycos' portal this month. Here, when a customer types the term "Mailing Lists" into the search box, an Experian banner pops up that mentions Experian's theme and directs viewers to its DMA booth at the conference.

Traditional direct marketing techniques aren't being ignored to draw attention to its presence at the show, Bernardi said, merging the company's 9,000-person database of prospects and customers with the DMA's registration list. A pre-show mailer that discusses its passport theme, and a party invitation both were dropped in the last two weeks.

Experian also will send out a post-show mailer asking customers about their experience at the show and whether they saw the in-flight commercial. It is doing all of its creative work for these programs inhouse. Among the issues the company is focusing on this year are postal regulations, privacy issues, Web marketing and its lettershop business.
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