Agency Seeks Swift Success for 'Idol' Video

A DRTV campaign brings “American Idol” direct to the homes of the show's fans in the form of a commemorative video, one of several peripheral products to be spun off from the surprise Fox hit.

A 60-second spot launched nationwide Sept. 16 offers two versions of the video, a 60-minute VHS version for $14.99 and a 90-minute DVD version for $19.99. Targeted mainly to teens, the spot produced by Respond2, Portland, OR, is running primarily on music television channels but, given the unexpectedly broad nature of the show's fan base, is also appearing on some cable channels geared toward women, such as Oxygen.

The spot features footage of all 10 “American Idol” finalists, who competed in an audition-style format for a $1 million recording contract, as well as the emotional moment in the final show when Kelly Clarkson of Burlington, TX, was declared winner.

“It's a real quick, energetic spot,” said Brant Berry, senior vice president of R2 Entertainment, the Respond2 division responsible for the campaign. “It's, 'You loved the show, now own the home video.' “

Starting Oct. 15, the video also will be available at retail. In addition to generating sales of its own, one objective of the DRTV will be to generate buzz and promote retail sales, Berry said.

Buzz over the video, which launched via DRTV just two weeks after the show ended, has already netted sales. Pre-orders over the Internet or through in-store promotions at retail have reached 500,000 units, Berry said.

The company behind the “American Idol” phenomenon, London-based 19 Entertainment, had success with commemorative video sales following the original British version of the show “Pop Idol.” For the U.S. version, other spin-off products will include an RCA Records “greatest hits” album featuring performances by the 10 finalists and a planned campaign for an “American Idol” CD-ROM.

19 Entertainment wanted the home video out as quickly as possible after the show ended, and the only reason the DRTV effort didn't start sooner was that R2 Entertainment needed footage from the show's finale, Berry said. The company wanted the product out while the show was fresh and was mindful of plans to launch a second season of “American Idol” in January.

“They were looking for a company that could turn this around quickly,” Berry said. “They wanted at the completion of the show to have a campaign and turn it around to retail.”

Berry acknowledged that the DRTV product likely will compete for sales with the retail version of the video, which is expected to sell for as much as $5 cheaper than DRTV at some locations, he said. However, the DRTV version offers features unavailable at retail including more creative packaging, due to packaging standards set by retailers to save shelf space, and gift items such as photos and an “American Idol” temporary tattoo.

Fads come and go, and “American Idol” is susceptible to the whims of teen consumers, Berry said. However, he said he thinks the product will sell well as a gift item through the holidays and noted that 19 Entertainment is committed to supporting the DRTV campaign at least through Christmas.

“N'Sync is hot today but gone tomorrow,” said Berry, referring to the often short-lived success of American boy bands for comparison. “It can be kind of a quick burn. But I think this will have legs and strong sales.”

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