Hippo Golf Tees Up DRTV Drive

Hippo Golf, a golf equipment company, has started a direct response television campaign for its Hippo Giant driver to expand its U.S. sales presence.

While the company previously marketed its golf equipment in Europe through traditional brand advertising and retail distribution, domestically Hippo Golf has marketed its line of clubs only through limited Southeastern golf specialty shops for three years.

“We wanted a base of retail clients before we launched any major marketing,” said Bruce Carroll, director at Hippo Golf U.S.A., Tampa, FL. “In the U.S. people had not heard of Hippo. Even if long-form advertising is not selling the product, we will still be getting a branding message out.”

Carroll added that the company decided to use DRTV because of its immediate measurability compared with traditional brand marketing.

The 30-minute infomercial is hosted by Lee Corso, a college football analyst for ESPN, and features demonstrations by pro golfer John Daly, who is the company's U.S. spokesman.

“The ad is full of attention-getting 'ooh and ah' direct response material. For example, John Daly rips a golf ball through a phone book, and another golfer tees off two balls at the same time with the driver,” said Mark Jones, president of Prime Time Media Solutions, San Luis Obispo, CA, the company managing the media for the campaign.

The ad provides a toll-free number to order the $249.95 club. It also directs viewers to the Web site, www.hippogiant.com, to receive further information about the company and its products. Hippo Golf is in the process of selecting upsells to accompany the club. The campaign also includes a limited-time contest to play a round of golf with Daly, open to all who purchase a club.

Hippo Golf targets value-oriented male golfers primarily older than age 35. Daly was selected for the infomercial because of his recognition among this demographic and because he is known as the “longest driver on the PGA tour,” Jones said.

To reach this demographic, Hippo Golf is running the campaign on cable stations such as The Golf Channel and the Fox Regional Sports Network as well as on regional broadcast venues, Jones said. Prime Time Media has allocated a media budget of $1 million per month for the campaign. Jones expects to sell 20,000 drivers by the end of the year.

Hippo Golf will run a 60-second short-form version of the infomercial as well as limited placements of a 30-second branding spot on the same media schedule. Prime Time Media would not disclose the time segments during which the ad is running.

The campaign will run through the end of the year, with media placements ending in the northern United States after September. Carroll said Hippo Golf wants to expand its U.S. retail presence through the DRTV campaign. It expanded its retail sales staff from three to 30 representatives in January.

Motivational Fulfillment is responsible for fulfillment, The Aftermarket Co. is responsible for all inbound telemarketing, and Convergence Film and Television is producing and scripting the ad.

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