Trout Unlimited Lets Fly With DRTV Spot

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Conservation organization Trout Unlimited is fishing for new members among prospects not on its usual mailing lists with a DRTV commercial offering free flies and a discounted membership fee.

The 60-second spot has tested since September on Outdoor Life Network, particularly during Trout Unlimited's weekly 30-minute show. Partner agencies The Lukens Company, Arlington, VA, and Northern Lights Direct Response Television, Toronto, jointly produced the spot.

The spot uses footage originally shot for Trout Unlimited's weekly show, saving the organization "literally tens of thousands" of dollars in production costs, said Peter Pasi, creative director at The Lukens Company. The goal is to capture atypical fly fishing aficionados, including young people who are less active in the sport and those who may not show up in list sources such as fly fishing magazines and catalogs.

"We feel they have pretty good penetration in the direct mail universe," he said. "But those people are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of people in fly fishing are not on traditional mailing lists."

For $15 plus $3.50 shipping and handling, viewers receive membership in the quarterly Trout Unlimited magazine, return address labels, membership in a local Trout Unlimited chapter, a calendar and a set of 13 flies with a value of $25. The membership fee represents roughly a 50 percent discount off the usual cost of $35.

The flies were chosen based on those most popular as incentives in Trout Unlimited's direct mail efforts, Pasi said. Despite the affluent demographic of fly fishing fans, the discounted membership fee has proven effective in generating response to the DRTV spot.

"A lot of direct marketers assume affluent people don't like to save money," he said. "But when you test, you find out they actually do."

Though Trout Unlimited is primarily a conservation group, the DRTV spot focuses on the premiums that come with membership, such as the flies and the calendar. Given the limited time in the spot, it would be difficult to delve into complex issues surrounding Trout Unlimited's conservation efforts, said Ian French, partner at Northern Lights.

"In the longer format, there's more room to go into conservation," he said. "In the short format, you're tapping into people's impulses."

The action shots -- images of fish leaping from the water after a fly -- come from Trout Unlimited's show. The only new material filmed by Northern Lights were shots of the premiums and a short message from the host of the Trout Unlimited show for use at the beginning of the ad.

Enough material remains from Trout Unlimited's show to support further DRTV efforts, French said. The Lukens Company is examining using this strategy with other clients who have existing footage from their own television programs.

Trout Unlimited plans to limit its rollout after the new year to the Outdoor Life Network. Other networks and time slots will be considered later.


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