Tan Perfect Finds Easy Transition From Infomercial to Short-Form

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HSN Direct International Ltd., a DRTV marketing firm in St. Petersburg, FL, last month launched new DRTV spots derived from its top-selling infomercial for Tan Perfect, a self-tanning system.


The rollout of the 60-second and 120-second spots marks the first time the company has transformed one of its infomercial campaigns into a short-form campaign, said Elisabeth Dorazio-Weinman, president of Intellivision Inc., Basking Ridge, NJ.


Intellivision produced the infomercial and reshot extra footage for the spots that emphasize the "before and after" effect of Tan Perfect.


"We looked at the long-form show and determined what we thought were the key features of the product and strongest visuals," Dorazio-Weinman said. "Oftentimes, it is difficult to translate long form success into short-form success, but this product is very demonstrable in short form."


She said the infomercial cost less than $150,000 to produce, while the spots cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 for re-shooting and re-editing. She declined to specify exact figures.


HSN Direct declined to specify its weekly sales for the product, either from the infomercial or the spots, but did say the infomercial is its best seller for the year. The infomercial was recently ranked in the Top 10 infomercial airings, as determined by Jordan Whitney Inc., an infomercial monitoring service in Tustin, CA. Jordan Whitney ranks infomercials according to media spending and frequency of airings.


Both the infomercial and spots demonstrate how many self-tanning products leave splotchy marks on the skin or turn its color into an unnatural shade of orange. The infomercial and spots also show how Tan Perfect may be applied evenly on the skin to prevent splotches and create a more natural-looking tan without exposure to potentially harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun or a tanning bed.


"In the short form, we demonstrate how much better a woman looks with a tan and a comparison shot between a tan leg and a pale white leg," Dorazio-Weinman said. "It also shows a woman rubbing it on and it's instant gratification."


Marketing Strategy


The decision to convert the infomercial into a short-form campaign was based on several factors, said Thomas Connerty, an independent DRTV consultant in Glen Ridge, NJ, who previously worked for Time-Life, Reader's Digest and Home Shopping Network.


First, the product is very visually demonstrable, but whereas the infomercial repeats the demonstration several times, the spots show the product in a condensed manner.


"The half hour show was very iterative. It repeated the same message time and time again," Connerty said, "but the product really does not require that much explanation, which is why it translates well into short form. We boiled down the message into a 2-minute and 60-second venue."


He said that while both the 120-second and 60-second spots are profitable, the 120-second spot is pulling better.


"It's the old adage: 'The more you tell, the more you sell'," he said.


Second, HSN Direct saw an advantage in the reach and frequency of its airings. While infomercial media avails are often limited to late-night and early morning weekends, DRTV spot avails range through all dayparts.


"We see some benefit as a company in reaching an entirely different audience," Connerty said. He added that because the spot campaign launched in July, it is too early to determine whether the spots have bolstered response to the infomercial, or vice versa. The product is also sold through a Web site, ww.tanperfect.com.


Third, Connerty said the campaigns are working be-cause of the quality of the product, the price points and back-end sales, including a continuity offer and outbound telemarketing.


"I know it sounds kind of trite, but I have sold a lot of junk in my life," Connerty said. "This is one of those rare occasions where we have a product that's superior to others on the market." He said the product has had few returns.


HSN Direct's 120-second spot has two offers for Tan Perfect. The first offers a package of self-tanning lotion, an exfoliant scrub and a "buff puff" for $19.95.


The second offers the same package for $9.95 if customers sign up for a continuity program called the Continuous Tan Plan that costs $19.95 a month. The program sends customers a monthly self-tanning kit.


"The object is to get them on the continuity program," said Dorazio-Weinman. She said the 60-second spot does not mention the Continuous Tan Plan, but the plan is offered in a telemarketed upsell. Also offered is a six-month load-up of Tan Perfect products for a deeply discounted price, Connerty said.


Intellivision also recently produced spots for Finally Free, a permanent hair removal device marketed by MEHL Inc., Short Hills, NJ, and for Child Support Enforcement, a company in Austin, TX, that uses legal measures to compel deadbeat parents who owe more than $5,000 in child support to pay promptly.


HSN Direct's offices are on the campus of the Home Shopping Network, which owns a minority interest in the company. HSN Direct is majority-owned by Flextech Homeshopping, a joint venture between TCI International and its U.K. subsidiary Flextech PLC.
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