Fashion Model Powers Mail Campaign for Skin Care Line

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Holsted Marketing is seeing a 2.25 percent response rate from a direct mail campaign in which it used fashion model Kim Alexis to promote its new product line.

The company hopes Alexis' endorsement of the skin care products can help generate sales from women in their 40s.

Late last month, Holsted, a New York-based marketing services firm, dropped 300,000 packages to a file from a skin care retailer's database list.

The company offered customers the opportunity to enter a continuity program, which allows them to receive a free-trial product and four gifts for $3.95 in shipping and handling costs, not including tax. The program qualifies entrants to receive a 60-day supply of two products from the skin care line -- called Nutri-Captiv -- for $29.95, plus shipping and handling costs and the applicable tax.

Holsted teamed with Blair Corp., Warren, PA, for the campaign. Blair is a cataloger and direct marketer of apparel and home products. Holsted used a file from Blair's database list in exchange for an undisclosed portion of revenue.

The file was selected according to customers' continuity buying profiles. Holsted creates the marketing for the product as well as prints and mails it as part of the agreement with Blair.

The 11.5-inch-by-5-inch mailer contains four pieces, including a prepaid envelope, copy introducing the products and testimonials from three customers. Additionally, photos of Kim Alexis alongside her endorsements are splashed throughout the package.

Before deciding on Alexis, Holsted surveyed 20 personalities, including Lynda Carter and Cheryl Ladd, to endorse the product line. Some of the personalities had scheduling conflicts or were not interested in participating in direct response promotions, said Victor Benson, president/CEO of Holsted.

Holsted ultimately selected Alexis because of her age -- she is in her early 40s -- and experience. In addition, Benson said the company chose Alexis, who is also an actress, because she was open to promoting the product through other media, including television.

"We thought that given her experience level in modeling and acting, as well as her believability and articulation, that she would be a very good spokesperson for this product line," Benson said. "And we also felt she was not so young that our customers would not be able to relate to her."

Blair's demographic is women age 45 and older with mid-range annual household incomes.

Approximately 6,500 people have responded and joined the program.

Holsted has been using the continuity programs for some 20 years now, teaming with companies such as Newport News and Sears, Benson said. The programs generally average a 2 percent response rate, he said.

Benson said Holsted did not run tests for the campaign before rolling it out because of its history in conducting continuity campaigns. Also, he said, "We were confident enough with Kim Alexis to roll it out right away."

Holsted plans additional drops early next year to other files within Blair's database, Benson said. He said the company plans to drop another mailing to this file 12 months from now.


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