Frontline Hopes New Spot, Offer Spell Sales

After improving response to its DRTV tests with a new offer and a more product-oriented spot, Frontline Phonics is rolling out the campaign nationally.

Frontline, which markets books that help children ages 3 to 7 learn to read, will begin its 60-second and 120-second spots May 13.

Direct response radio spots from Frontline Phonics have aired since August 1999. The company began testing short-form DRTV spots in summer 2001.

“We had some success but struggled,” said John Lant, president/CEO of Frontline Phonics, Orem, UT. “That campaign just kind of limped along.”

Part of the problem, Lant said, was the spot itself. It featured “feel-good” imagery of parents and children and didn't focus as much on the product itself.

“The parents wanted to go and hug their child, as opposed to picking up the phone and calling us,” he said.

The new spots, which the company tested in December 2001 and January 2002, featured testimonials by parents whose children had used the product, as well as film of children using the product themselves. A narrator explains that working teachers developed the product and promises that children can learn to read using the program in as little as 3 1/2 weeks.

The DRTV spots also included a new incentive of 10 free books to consumers who ordered within 30 minutes of the spot's airing. The time-limited offer sought to get consumers to react immediately, said Bob Yallen, president of Inter/Media Advertising, Encino, CA, which Frontline hired to develop its revamped creative and media buying strategy.

“What you want to do is take the barriers [to buying] out,” Yallen said. “The first barrier is getting them to call right now.”

Without revealing details of the test results, Lant said responses and closure rates for the new DRTV spots were four to five times higher than Frontline attained from the earlier spots that tested in summer 2001.

The program starter kit costs $249.95, and accessories are priced from $24.95 to $99.95.

The national campaign will air on cable, syndicated and spot-market television. Spots will run mainly during day hours targeted at women ages 25 to 54 with children.

Frontline would not disclose the total media expenditure planned for the campaign. However, Yallen said the company planned to ramp up gradually, increasing spending roughly 25 percent every week or so, with some downward corrections when needed if certain media aren't producing results, for six to eight weeks.

Because it's a bigger agency and buys media time in bulk, Inter/Media got good rates on airtime, Lant said. The company also has a database tracking system that is used to predict which media and time slots are most likely to produce results.

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