Nikon's First Infomercial Touts New Photo System

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Nikon Corp., Melville, NY, rolls out its first infomercial later this month to promote sales of two new cameras - the Nuvis S and Pronea S. Although the cameras are being sold through the infomercial, the main goal was to drive retail sales and to promote the advanced photo system (APS), which was developed by Nikon, Kodak, Fuji, Minolta and Canon.

"We had an involved story to tell, and we thought long form would explain all the features of the APS," said Jerry Grossman, general manager of communications. "Our objective is not to sell cameras directly, since we do not want to sell against our dealers. It is designed to support them."

Because of that, the first option callers receive when they call the toll-free number is to locate their closest dealer. Callers next have the option to buy the camera directly. However, the direct prices of $299 for the Nuvis S and $419 for the Pronea S are not conducive to the traditional direct-response impulse buy.

"Since the objective was to build the brand of the cameras, a lot of the pressure was taken off of us," said Mark Ratner, senior vice president of client services and marketing at Hawthorne Direct Inc., Fairfield, IA, which produced the infomercial. "There was a lot of conversation about selling two cameras in the same infomercial, but the brand and explaining the technology were most essential to Nikon. What we did creatively was to make it seem like one product."

The show is set on the Grand Princess cruise liner to Italy. Several cameras were demonstrated to passengers, and the features of ASP were explained. The Princess cruise line is one of Nikon's marketing partners, and has equipped their on-board photo-labs with APS film processing.

"Anybody who has ever been on a cruise or vacation knows how important it is to have a camera with them," Grossman said. "We were able to demonstrate its ease of use and its three picture formats in a setting where cameras would always be used."

The infomercial is being supported by print advertising, as well as marketing materials placed in dealers. West Teleservices, Omaha, NE, will handle the teleservices.

"Since this was the first time we got into this kind of branding, we are not promoting the show as an infomercial to our dealers, who might be sensitive about some of the connotations it has, rather we are calling it a long-form ad," Grossman said. "The early indications are that it is doing very well."

This is not the first infomercial for a camera, last year Creative Entertainment Group, Los Angeles produced the infomercial for the Kodak DC 210 Digital Camera. The camera sold at a price point of $900, but the price was not mentioned in the infomercial. The infomercial won the Best Corporate Infomercial Award at the annual convention of the Electronic Retailing Association held last October in Las Vegas.

"There are not a whole lot of infomercials for cameras out there, but it makes sense because you are teaching people technical information, no just how it works but also how to use it," said Linda York a partner of the Creative Entertainment Group.

The Kodak infomercial is set around the events of a family, who are portrayed by actors, with real-life testimonials added, unlike the Nikon infomercial which uses actual tourists to demonstrate and offer testimonials about the cameras.

With the second infomercial for a camera on the air in three years, York said that more may follow.

"Kodak recently changed its upper management, but we continued staying in touch with them," she said. "There is a possibility for another Kodak show, but nothing is confirmed."

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