Panasonic Airs First DRTV Spots

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Electronics giant Panasonic last month made its first entry into DRTV marketing with the rollout of two spots for appliances in new product categories for the company.

The company began airing 60- and 120-second spots for its Finishing Touches Pore Cleanser, a beauty care device, and its HEPA-Logic Air Purifier, an electronic air filter. Panasonic said it determined DRTV spots would provide a lengthier explanation of product functions not seen in 30-second commercials. It also saw an opportunity not only to make direct sales revenue, but also to support retailers.

"Both products are in categories we had not competed in previously," said David Williams, national accounts manager at Panasonic. "We wanted to educate the consumer in the channels we compete in. The bulk of our business is at mass [merchandisers], where a person doesn't have anyone to turn to to get information about the products."

The Tyee Group, a DRTV agency in Portland, OR, manages all aspects of the campaign, including production of the spots and media buying. It contracted fulfillment services to PDS Inc., Burbank, CA, and teleservices to Protocol Communications Inc., Castro Valley, CA.

Panasonic estimates the total U.S. market for home air filters is 3 million units a year, with manufacturers Honeywell and Holmes as the market leaders. Its DRTV spot demonstrates in a setting resembling the show "Mission Impossible" how the HEPA-Logic Air Purifier responds to the level of physical activity in a room. When no one is home, the purifier responds by reducing its output. When people are present, the device cranks out more air that is scrubbed of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. The product sells for $169.99.

While the air purifier spots will air through the holiday season, Williams said the pore cleanser aired for three weeks during the "back to school" period in September and will air again as the holidays approach.

The pore cleanser spots demonstrate how the product vacuums dirt and oil from pores, even in the shower. The Finishing Touches Pore Cleanser sells for $49.95.

"The pore cleanser is another area where we have not traditionally competed," Williams said. "When we're entering a new category, one thing that makes retailers feel more comfortable about placing a new product on their shelves is a campaign to drive consumers to their stores."

All the spots are tagged with names of local and national retailers, said Rick Petry, media director of Tyee. He said the air purifier airs mostly in regional markets, while the pore cleaner airs on regional broadcast and national cable, including MTV and VH1.

"It's a little bit unusual because they [MTV and VH1] don't do a whole lot of direct response unless it's an exclusive TV offer," Petry said. He also said the early indication from retailers is that sales for the products have risen "exponentially," although he declined to give specific figures of sales and media budgets.

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