New Rules Inspire Soft Pitch for Scooters

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The Scooter Store, a national retailer of scooters and powered chairs for the disabled, has begun a DRTV campaign with an emotional appeal after new federal rules rendered its former hard-sales approach unworkable.


McClain Finlon, Denver, the advertising firm managing the campaign, also hopes the new approach boosts the number of qualified callers who respond. The goal is a conversion rate of 15 percent. The $20 million campaign began Jan. 12 with the launch of a 60-second spot followed by a 120-second spot last week, with full national rollout expected by the end of January.


The campaign is planned as a six-week test, after which The Scooter Store will decide whether to extend or adjust the campaign.


The Scooter Store, New Braunfels, TX, previously did its DRTV advertising in-house with much success. Campaigns centered on its guarantee that customers would receive a scooter or powered chair free if they qualified for insurance or Medicare coverage.


Medicare recipients represent the bulk of The Scooter Store's business, and the ads offered to help customers work with their doctors and take care of extensive Medicare paperwork requirements and processing.


However, about six months ago, new federal regulations limiting how companies use free offers related to Medicare in their marketing forced The Scooter Store to seek an alternative approach, said Megan Fearnow, group account director for McClain Finlon.


The campaign targets those older than 65. It runs in 18 markets, focusing on those with large senior populations such as Florida and Arizona.


Right Brain Films, Los Angeles, produced the spot. A. Eicoff & Company provided media planning. Channels included national cable such as CNN, History Channel, CNN Headline News and Animal Planet as well as network and syndicated programming, with slots in the daytime, fringe primetime and some nightly news spots.


The spots depict various senior women smiling and sitting, in one case with a pet and in another with a grandchild. A voiceover tells the audience "I know a lady" who is dealing with aging issues but wants to remain independent.


Another announcer offers customers help dealing with doctors, insurance and Medicare paperwork, and promises free delivery and on-site training. McClain Finlon tailored the spots to the results of consumer research conducted before shooting to address customers' specific problems and needs, Fearnow said.


The agency's creative team interviewed Scooter Store customers as well as non-customers, those who qualified for a Scooter Store product but didn't have one. The research revealed barriers that kept people from using The Scooter Store -- lack of familiarity with the company and fears about the difficulty of making a Medicare claim -- as well as positive qualities existing customers found attractive.


"The research served as a platform for the creative brief," Fearnow said. "Existing customers resoundingly confirmed the fact that this company was in the spirit of family."


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