Car and home audio equipment manufacturers have discovered the high-impact quality of television and are suddenly choosing to promote themselves through that medium. Kenwood launched the largest ad campaign of its history with its first television spots in fall 1994. Fisher Inc has created a 30-minute infomercial for its Studio 24 CD changer system that stars singer Alice Cooper and his mother.
For many industries, advertising their goods on television is as customary as fireworks on the Fourth of July, but until recently TV has been pretty much foreign territory for many home- and car-audio manufacturers.
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More exposure for the company name and the immediate impact TV can have on consumers were among the reasons industry executives cited for the recent upsurge in commercials. Audiovox Corp., Fisher Inc. and Bose Corp. are first-time TV advertisers with commercials pushing specific products, joining Kenwood, which has kicked off its largest campaign ever.
According to Bob Law, Kenwood U.S.A. Inc.’s national marketing manager, the recent increase in TV commercials is in response to an industry wide realization of the need for more self-promotion and the fact most of those who make up the company’s main customer base simply don’t read much.
In light of this, Kenwood has jumped on the TV bandwagon and this fall started its largest ad campaign ever. It also marked the first time Kenwood has ever been on broadcast stations. The ads are targeted at increasing the company’s name recognition among consumers and not specific products. “We live in a TV age. A lot more people watch TV than read and to reach the kids, who are our main customer base, the best way is to be on TV,” said Law.
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Audiovox Corp. also has made its TV debut via a pair of commercials touting its high-end Prestige line of autosound and car security products. The campaign started Nov. 1 and will run throughout the fourth quarter on cable channels such as MTV, CNN and Lifetime.
“The company recognized that consumer ads are important, but never before put the dollars against that recognition. Right now this is not being done on a grand scale, we admit, but you have to start somewhere,” said Ann Boutcher, Audiovox’s vice president of marketing.
The two Audiovox spots are targeted at specific demographic audiences, with the audio ad running on MTV and aimed at 17 to 25 year olds while the car security spot on CNN and Lifetime is for the more mature viewer. Both feature a toll-free number through which the customer can receive a product catalog and the location of the nearest Audiovox retailers.
Boutcher said response to the ads has been extremely high with hundreds of calls having been received. In response, the company has already budgeted funding for more commercials.
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Last spring Bose ran the first ad for its high-end Wave table radio and followed it up with a second spot that kicked off in August that runs on cable and other channels. Alex Campbell, Bose’s vice president of marketing, said customer response to the ads has been positive and, since the Wave radio is only sold direct from Bose, reaching the highest number of people possible is imperative. “We clearly get a better response from TV due to the number of households reached,” he said.
- Fisher Inc
Another company sold on the benefits of TV advertising is Fisher Inc., which is taking a somewhat different approach by running a 30-minute infomercial featuring rock star Alice Cooper and his mother for its Studio 24 CD changer system. The program gives both an explanation of the product and tells the viewer where the unit is locally available.
“Since we started, more branded companies have begun using it as a vehicle to talk directly with the public,” he said, pointing to Philips Consumer Electronics’ use of the format to hype its CD-i multimedia system.
Shoemaker said he was able to gauge the infomercial’s impact first-hand during a visit to a local electronics retailer. He observed a couple looking at a Studio 24-equipped rack system and heard them tell the salesman they were interested in the product because of the advertisement.
“These people understood the product and came in pre-sold. This is the biggest difference between TV and print campaigns. People don’t always read the whole ad so they may not understand the product,” he said.
- Philips Consumer Electronics Inc.
One company with a long history of TV advertising is Philips Consumer Electronics Inc., which has placed its Magnavox audio products on the air each fall. Using ads with a healthy dose of humor, John Cleese of Monty Python fame starred in last year’s campaign. Philips decided upon a new direction for 1994, however. It dropped Cleese, replaced the name recognition spots with a trio that are product-specific, and skewed the commercials toward a younger audience.
“We wanted to retain the humor, but drop the comic. We wanted the product to be the star,” a company spokesman said, adding the spots have been running on all the networks, specifically on sports programs as well as the David Letterman and Jay Leno shows. The spots cover the company’s sevendisc CD audio systems, Remote Locator and Smart Sound products. All use the Magnavox Smart-Very-Smart tagline and emphasize the product’s high level of technology.
- Pioneer Electronics Inc.
Another proponent of TV advertising is Pioneer Electronics Inc., which just ended its third national ad campaign. According to Jim Wallace, manager of advertising and promotion for car electronics, Pioneer attempts to work in conjunction with its dealers whenever the commercials are running.
“We try to get our dealers to buy local time to run along with our ads,” he said, adding this one-two punch approach has been getting good results.
“Cable is much more efficient for us. To go national on the networks is costly and not a lot of programming is out there that reaches the 18 to 34 year olds; it is especially hard to reach them with print because they’re not doing any reading,” Wallace said.