Champion Says 'Yes' to 60-Second Spots

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After a successful rebranding effort last year, home equity lender Champion Mortgage is trying 60-second DRTV spots to portray the company as accessible and empathetic to consumers.

"Last year, the format didn't lend itself to 60-second spots," said Mark Benson, chief marketing officer for Champion. "We're moving in a direction that makes the most sense for our business."

Launched June 17, the 60-second spot is a montage of five 30-second commercials Champion also is running as part of the latest campaign. The 60-second spots air in traditional DRTV time slots, ranging from daytime to late fringe hours, on broadcast television in the New York area; Boston; Hartford, CT; Providence, RI; San Francisco; Portland, OR; and Denver.

Champion hopes to build on last year's effort. Sales volume in 2001 was $1.7 billion, up 70 percent from 2000. The campaign last year won several marketing awards, including a Caples. This year's effort will follow up on the themes established last year, Benson said, but will have more of a focus on the direct response element.

The spots, produced by The Martin Agency, Richmond, VA, depict spokespeople seated on couches, recliners and in other comfortable positions talking directly to the audience. They discuss financial problems consumers may experience resulting from overdue bills, unexpected costs and starting new families.

Other themes include high interest rates and the tendency of some mortgage companies to treat their customers like numbers. The 60-second spot combines these elements.

Every spot ends with the Champion slogan, "Champion says yes."

The message throughout is that Champion can offer a high level of service and a human touch, Benson said. Each spot features a toll-free number for more information and a free consultation.

In addition to a television campaign, Champion is simultaneously marketing through direct mail, a relaunched Web site, radio commercials, yellow-pages advertising and public relations.

Benson would not disclose the number of mail pieces in the campaign, but he said Champion drops "millions" of mailings annually. Champion has reduced its overall number of mailings but increased sales through the use of improved targeted, he said.

Champion is using the same message of human-touch service in its other marketing channels. The television spots remain the most visible part of the overall campaign, Benson said.

The total media spending of the campaign was not disclosed. Champion is among the top three accounts served by The Martin Agency.

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