SmithKline Beecham Targets Smokers With Customized Diaries

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Printer VLM is getting results by using digital Chromapress technology from Agfa Corp. to help break campaigns down to the individual consumer.


VLM produced direct mail pieces that promoted a trans-dermal nicotine patch for client SmithKline Beecham in Belgium, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Would-be quitters received a toll-free number with the product that encouraged them to ask for a "custom diary," which would help track how successfully they were in ditching the smoking habit.


Because of the countries involved, the diaries had to be printed in four languages right off the bat: Dutch, French, Swedish and English. But VLM wanted personalization that ran deeper. Based on answers consumers gave over the telephone, the diaries were individualized for quitters by name, gender, age and information such as how long they have smoked and how many cigarettes they smoked daily.


The 20-page diaries had to be delivered within 48 hours, with text blocks and information tied directly to each consumer's smoking habits. For example, the diary periodically encouraged quitters by telling them how much money they had saved based on how much they smoked previously.


In the United Kingdom, the patch market grew 109 percent in the campaign's first year and the pharmaceutical giant captured 45 percent of the total market. In Belgium, the patch market grew 227 percent. The mailing ran into the "hundreds of thousands," said Gene Hunt, international marketing communications manager at Agfa, Wilmington, MA.


"For direct marketers, we're beyond the point now of mass communication. Mass communication and broadband communication don't have the effectiveness that we want," Hunt said. But unindividualized mailings that randomly arrive at people's homes are no more successful, he added. "The interruption marketing method doesn't work either."


A similarly successful but much smaller campaign came from Padgett Printing, Dallas. The commercial printer promoted itself to potential clients attending a design show. Padgett hit 104 individuals registered for the show. The personalized seven-piece campaign stretched out over the weeks preceding their arrival, starting with faxes inviting the targets to a Padgett open house.


Those who didn't accept immediately received further mailings.


The campaign went as far as leaving treats on the pillows of the targets' hotel-room pillows - candy bars tucked in variable-data-printed wrappers that welcomed attendees and further tempted them to attend Padgett's open house.


The push seems to have worked: of the 104 people targeted, 93 showed up to see more examples of Padgett's printing capabilities.


Another printer, RT Associates, Schaumburg, IL, used a direct marketing campaign to promote itself to potential customers. The company sent a staggered multipiece mailing to clients this summer. The first was a large candle wrapped in cardboard that exhorted recipients to "shed some light" on something through RT's capabilities. The next mailing was a bound book that exhibited RT's variable data work. Results of the campaign, which ran this summer, were not yet available.
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