Reader's Digest To Test DRTV Spots in January

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In an effort to attract younger readers and build brand awareness of Reader's Digest magazine, its flagship publication, The Reader's Digest Association Inc. plans to test a series of direct response TV commercials in early January, followed by a national rollout in February.

The campaign would be the first time Reader's Digest uses DRTV commercials to specifically promote Reader's Digest magazine.

While the planned spots are still in the conceptual stages and will not be completed until mid-December, the company is planning to test 60-second and two-minute spots that will highlight the redesign of Reader's Digest magazine, introduced in March. The new look includes bolder graphics, a new table of contents page located inside the magazine and a new front cover.

The commercials are being produced by DRI International, a New York-based direct response agency. This is the first time DRI has worked with Reader's Digest, although the Pleasantville, NY-based company has used a variety of other DRTV spots for its books, music and video products.

The company is also working with DRI on testing different positioning, and will help the company look at orders by station, time, and day of the week before putting together a complete media plan.

Bob Raymond, a Reader's Digest vice president, said "the DRTV spots will give [us] an excellent opportunity to reach younger audiences as well as those individuals who may not have read Reader's Digest for quite a while and have lost touch with its features." The profile of the current readers is 47 years old, college-educated and female.

Lesta S. Cordil, a spokeswoman for the company, is betting the spots will help boost subscriptions and develop brand awareness among non-subscribers.

"Linking branding and direct response is a natural in short-form commercials," said Andrew Cohen, president of DRI International. "By using a combination of two-minute and 60-second formats, we have enough time to advance both ideas side by side without confusing the viewer."

Readers' Digest is planning to spend up to 45 million on magazine direct response TV commercials through June, according to Thomas O. Ryder, chairman and CEO of the company.

Reader's Digest, touted as the world's most-widely read magazine, has a circulation of about 14 million people the U.S. and 13 million internationally. Company revenues are expected to total $2.6 billion this year.

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