TV Media Holdings Pte Ltd., Singapore, launched an infomercial campaign last week to convince consumers that a nest of year 2000 bugs could be ready to hatch inside their personal computers.
The company, a marketer of various products through direct response television, began airing 30-minute infomercials and an assortment of direct response TV ads in cities across the country for its Fix-Y2K computer software, which detects and corrects many of the hardware and software problems related to the Y2K issue. The company, which maintains a U.S. headquarters in Irvine, CA, is marketing the product through a licensing agreement with Intelliquis, a Draper, UT, software firm that offers the original version of the software, Intellifix 2000, primarily through retail channels.
Jeffrey Ten, vice president of marketing at Fix-Y2K, said the infomercials are designed to create awareness about the vulnerability of home computers to Y2K problems, in which the “00” in a date is mistakenly interpreted to indicate the year 1900.
“The core of the message is that everyone knows about Y2K — there isn't an ant on the planet that doesn't know about Y2K — but what people don't know is that there is an issue with PCs,” he said. “People think it's a problem with banks, the electric company or the airport but their PCs are OK. We will dispel that rumor first and say that there is a problem with PCs.”
Ten said the infomercials, which were tested in a limited number of markets two weeks ago, include footage of personal computers currently offered in national retail chains being tested for Y2K compliance. Many of the computers, which are touted as Y2K compliant, are shown to fail the Fix-Y2K testing, Ten said.
The infomercials also incorporate testimonials and refer to certification from Key Labs, a Lindon, UT, technology testing company. Viewers are directed to the Fix-Y2K Web site (www.fix-y2k.com) for more information and to see the full study.
“We're getting a lot of interest in the Web site,” Ten said, noting that the product has not generated the kind of impulse purchasing that some other infomercials do. “People want to read more about this product before they buy it. It's not like an onion chopper or an exercise machine … [and] this is not a game or something that's going to make you rich. This is something that you put into your computer and it disappears.”
The target audience, he said, includes anyone with a PC, but skews more males than females and members tend to be more educated and in higher income brackets than the average infomercial audience. Several other products on the market compete with Fix-Y2K.
Users who visit the Fix-Y2K Web site have the option of running a free detection program directly from the Internet. If the program detects any Y2K problems in the computer's hardware or software, a screen appears offering the customer the option of either ordering the software through a toll-free number or ordering a download through the Internet using a credit card.
For Intelliquis, the partnership with TV Media gives the company a chance to reach additional consumers and expand its reach overseas, where TV Media is a major direct response and infomercial marketer. In addition, said Ken Jensen, director of marketing for Intelliquis, the company has a limited window in which to market the product, and infomercials seemed like a good way to reach a large audience quickly.
A direct mail campaign using cards that Intelliquis launched early this year was not as effective as executives hoped, he said, although the company is considering additional direct marketing efforts. Intelliquis is preparing an e-mail campaign to the customers who registered at its Web site and has been in talks with an agency about the possibility of staging another direct effort.
Ten said he thought it might be difficult to put together a large-scale direct mail effort at this late date.
“Direct is great if you've got a couple of months to build it up and get it out,” he said. “But this is a product that's going to be obsolete by January. Direct mail is just a little bit too slow of a process.”
He did say that TV Media might do some limited direct mailings, however, to members of some professional associations that it is seeking to forge alliances with.