Forever White Buyers Sink Teeth Into Web

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A month after rolling out the Forever White tooth-whitening system spots, Century Direct is finding success on the Internet. Where many DRTV companies fear that driving Internet sales will weaken demographic information and take away upsells, Century is quite comfortable getting a 20 percent order rate for the product on the Web.

"We built the site,, in a short period of time, so we weren't trying to win any awards," said Gerald Bagg, CEO of Century Direct, Santa Monica, CA. "The purpose of the Web site was to provide more information, instead of people having to wait two weeks for information on the product. We wanted to address any questions they may have after watching the commercial.

"It is truly astounding to me that we got so many orders from the Web. This does fit the product because it's a younger demographic -- people who are used to using computers. But we didn't specifically highlight the address.

"I think this may be due to the fact the younger audiences are so good at multitasking and will often have the TV and Internet on in the same room, so they just shoot over to the Web site. I'm a bit older, but even I have done this many times. We provide the stimulus for direct response, and this multitasking enables it."

The site is simple -- a main splash page, a section of frequently asked questions, and examples of how the product works, including streaming video. Bagg said the video was meant only to reinforce what was seen on TV, but this, too, may account for so many people ordering after visiting the site.

Bagg said upsells are not suffering, either, as many people have already ordered the product a second time for a friend or have signed up for a monthly maintenance program to keep receiving the formula.

"Products like this don't generally generate continuity sales; they usually buy it for a one-time fix," Bagg said. "But people are either recommending it to others, or they are on maintained plans and also placing second orders quickly."

The spots for the product -- a 60- and a 120-second spot -- are airing on national cable on networks such as The Style Channel and E! Entertainment Television that attract an image-conscious audience age 18 to 39. The system, which is marketed as being able to whiten teeth in a week, sells for $39.95 with a second unit going for $19.95.

"We haven't veered significantly from our test strategy, which was to run it on national cable stations that appeal to a younger demographic," Bagg said. "The whole philosophy was to duplicate where the success had been in the dentist's office, where the product was first available.

"The company knew who goes into the dentist's office for the whitening technique, so we are not breaking new ground across the board. We add that to our database of 5,500 campaigns, and we duplicated that buying pattern."

Bagg added that Century is finding it much more successful to buy more rotations on fewer stations rather than saturating the networks with a spot that would play infrequently. Contrary to popular belief, Bagg added, the spot is doing just as well in rural and suburban areas as it is in metropolitan areas, where people generally assume a vanity product would do best. Bagg noted, however, that there is a higher female orientation for the product.

Appearing in the spots are television stars Jack and Kristina Wagner. Bagg said the client secured them for a reasonable rate specifically because they have "near-perfect teeth."

"They have wonderful teeth," Bagg said. "They are prominently on the package, too. The client wanted to use them, and they could be secured at a very good rate. Celebrities have stopping power, and by having recognizable celebrities who have perfect teeth, it adds value to the spot."

Meanwhile, Century is finding Internet success with another product that Bagg preferred not to name. He said this home décor product was tested Aug. 18-20 and had 12,000 responses to the infomercial. The spot was designed to drive traffic to the Internet and had a much more prominent Web address than 800 numbers. Of the 12,000 leads generated, merely 1,000 were telephone calls, and an impressive 11,000 were Web visits.

"The Internet is an incredible marketing tool," Bagg said. "But I don't think we or anyone else has a complete handle on it to make it truly viable at this point, unless you are very specific. We are finding that if you have something that directly stimulates the attention of someone, they are going to visit the site."

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