Thane Infomercial Overcomes Weather Hurdle

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Springtime gets consumers thinking about fitness, but DRTV marketer Thane found that the onset of warm weather got Canadians with cabin fever outdoors, away from their televisions and away from a new infomercial during the first week of testing for the company's new exercise device.

Testing on the long-form infomercial for the Bun & Thigh Max product began the weekend of March 15. While not disclosing details, Patty Booth, vice president and general manager of Thane Canada, Toronto, said product sales in the test didn't match high expectations set by the product's sales in the United States.

"It was the first nice weekend after a winter of horrible weather," she said.

Thane tested the infomercial again the following weekend, and this time its sales expectations were realized, she said.

Though Booth did not disclose actual sales projections, she said Thane had high hopes based on U.S. sales, where the Bun & Thigh Max is marketed by BATM LLC and was ranked ninth in the Infomercial Monitoring Service's media rankings for the week of April 4.

"You really don't know until you test it if it's going to be strong," Booth said. "But if it tests well in the States, it usually tests well in Canada."

The Bun & Thigh Max is back on target with a full rollout begun in early April on Canadian national cable and local television, Booth said. The product will appear on The Shopping Channel, a Canadian home-shopping network, starting April 30.

Thane expects to spend $750,000 to $1 million on the infomercial campaign in Canada. A national campaign in the United States might spend that much in a week, but campaign rollouts in Canada are much quicker thanks to the smaller market.

"We do it pretty fast here," Booth said. "There's not as many TV stations."

Last year, Thane brought its AbSwing product to Canada and other international markets. It also started 24-hour infomercial channels in the United Kingdom and the Middle East featuring products such as Ab Doer, Ab Tronic, Bun & Thigh Isolator and Orbitrek.

Thane typically uses unedited versions of the product's U.S. infomercials when it imports a campaign, changing them only for language, Booth said. For example, the Bun & Thigh Max infomercial that runs in the Canadian province of Quebec will be changed only to run in French.

Offers must be changed as well to reflect local currencies. The Bun & Thigh Max costs $59.95 U.S. but $89.99 Canadian.

The infomercial for the product features former ESPN fitness show host Kathy Derry and testimonials from product users. Long-form DRTV is useful in erasing consumer doubt about a fitness product's effectiveness, Booth said.

"You need that length of time to convince people the product does what we say it does," she said.

Thane also developed 60- and 120-second short-form DRTV spots to run on networks with lower time availabilities. Other media to be used in marketing the Bun & Thigh Max include credit card bill inserts, catalogs, online marketing and live product demonstrations.

Thane ultimately aims to bring the Bun & Thigh Max to retail, Booth said. Often, Thane is forced to bring its products to retail ahead of schedule before a competitor can introduce a knock-off product.

While sales of infomercial products in the United States suffer after they reach retail, in Canada DRTV generally is no longer a viable marketing channel once retailers are selling a product, she said.

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