Vermont Teddy Bear Tunes Into DRTV

Vermont Teddy Bear's first steps into DRTV proved successful in holiday campaigns for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, and the direct response marketer plans to make the medium an ongoing part of its mix.

The company built its business in the late 1980s and early '90s with direct response radio ads read live on the air by DJs and hosts, who added their own unscripted elements that gave the ads a unique flair. However, as the radio industry consolidates, fewer DJs are willing to do live ad reads, said Irene Steiner, vice president of marketing for Vermont Teddy Bear, Shelburne, VT.

Radio still brings the lion's share of traffic to Vermont Teddy Bear's call center, and the company has had success with syndicated network radio shows, Steiner said. But with fewer outlets for live reads, Vermont Teddy Bear looked to DRTV as a new channel.

DRTV agency Script to Screen, Santa Ana, CA, produced two spots for the brand, one for Valentine's Day and the other for Mother's Day. It also produced a Mother's Day spot for Vermont Teddy Bear's sister company, Pajama Gram.

Script to Screen created one-minute versions of each spot plus a two-minute version of the Valentine's Day ad. The two-minute version drew more than double the response of the one-minute version, Steiner said. Vermont Teddy Bear wanted to try two-minute versions for Mother's Day, but the holiday fell during the TV sweeps period and inventory was limited.

The DRTV spots have been profitable. The Valentine's Day effort generated an ROI of about 2.5 to 1.

Vermont Teddy Bear now plans a campaign for the Christmas period and will expand its use of DRTV next year, Steiner said.

Though the gifts are meant for women, the spots are aimed at men. The Valentine's Day ad features a voiceover by Adam Corolla, comedian and former host of Comedy Central's hyper-macho “The Man Show.”

In the spot, an office worker sitting in his cubicle and listening to a radio is panicked when Corolla's voice reminds him that Valentine's Day is near. As Corolla expounds on the advantages of getting one's sweetheart a Vermont Teddy Bear, a group of women in the office gather breathlessly as one of them opens a box — presumably from her sweetheart — containing a Vermont Teddy Bear.

“For the price of about a dozen roses, a Vermont Teddy Bear keeps giving and giving, so you'll keep getting and getting,” Corolla promises.

Indeed, the woman who receives the gift says she can't wait to give her beau a “surprise” when she sees him. Graphics near the end of the spot inform viewers that more than 100 bears are available, starting at $49.95.

Selecting Corolla as celebrity spokesman for teddy bears raised eyebrows, Steiner said. However, in the Valentine's Day period about 90 percent of the company's customers are male.

“If Adam Corolla says this is a cool thing to do, they're going to listen to that,” Steiner said. “He's a guy's guy.”

The Mother's Day ad is less risque, but equally tongue in cheek, as 70 percent of Vermont Teddy Bear's Mother's Day customers are male. In it, a group of men are gathered around a table in a garage, eating pizza and using paste and paint to create kindergarten-esque arts and crafts as gifts for Mother's Day.

The young son of one of the men enters and asks what they are doing, and the father replies that they are doing “something creative for Mother's Day.” Fortunately, the boy brought along his laptop computer opened to the Vermont Teddy Bear Web page.

The boy explains that Vermont Teddy Bears are guaranteed for life and handcrafted. The spot drives home the point that the wide selection means Vermont Teddy Bear has a gift suited for any mom.

“It's as easy as sending flowers, it lasts forever and there's no mess to clean up!” the father exclaims.

In contrast, the Pajama Gram spot is aimed at women, the brand's primary buyers. In it, morning TV talk show hosts are discussing gift ideas. The discussion breaks out into a fashion show featuring Pajama Gram products.

The spot was based on Pajama Gram's experience with ABC morning show “The View,” which mentioned Pajama Gram as a top gift idea in November, generating about 1,000 sales in a few days. Vermont Teddy Bear looks to place more Pajama Gram DRTV spots on morning talk show slots in the future, Steiner said.

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