AngelEye Smoke Alarm Seeks DRTV Flight

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The AngelEye smoke alarm, billed as the "world's most advanced" product of its type, is set for a North American launch via DRTV early next year, production firm Northern Lights DRTV announced last week.

One- and two-minute spots will test in Canadian and U.S. markets through December, with rollout expected shortly after the new year. The product, which has been in retail in Great Britain the past two years, screws into a standard light socket and has a rechargeable battery that powers up when the outlet is on, obviating the need to replace disposable batteries common to most ceiling smoke alarms.

John Walsh, president of AngelEye Corp., Richmond Hill, Ontario, describes his product as the first major innovation in smoke alarms in 15 years. In Britain, no advertising to launch the AngelEye was needed because it received plentiful press coverage and was picked up by the nation's largest hardware retailer.

"It got more media coverage in the first 18 months of its launch than all the other smoke alarm manufacturers put together," he said. "It's something to talk about."

Because North America is a bigger market, AngelEye needs a marketing boost that the company hopes the DRTV effort will provide. The campaign aims to generate sales of its own but also spark press attention and drive customers to retail.

Marketing the AngelEye is a challenge because preventative products typically don't sell well via DRTV, said Ian French, president of Northern Lights, Toronto. To counter that, Northern Lights took a lighter approach in the campaign, focusing on the convenience of the product rather than trying to scare consumers into buying it.

Rather than trying to convert people who don't have smoke alarms, the DRTV spots illustrate how much easier AngelEye is to use than a conventional smoke alarm because it doesn't need a disposable battery, French said. It also shows how easy it is to test and turn off -- it's controlled by flipping the light switch multiple times in succession -- and states that 30 percent of all smoke alarms in homes don't work because the battery either is dead or has been removed because of false alarms.

"It eliminates the need to climb up on the chair and fuss with it," French said. "It does away with the question, is it working or is it not?"

Its price point, $39.95, is a little high for short-form DRTV, but the product is simple enough that it doesn't need a long-form infomercial, which typically is used for complex products when benefits require extensive explanation, French said. The added media and production costs of long form couldn't be justified in this case.

"This is not a product that takes a long time to explain," French said. "The benefits are self-evident."

Along with the DRTV spots, Northern Lights developed a two-minute looping version featuring footage from the campaign for use in store displays. Also, a two-minute version of the video with a discount offer and new voiceover material is being sent by mail to more than 3,000 full- and part-time firehouses in North America.

The expectation is that firefighters will spread the word about the product to their communities and be able to use the video to show the AngelEye to neighbors, Walsh said.


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