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Direct Response Marketing

Brands Flock to Short-Form

1 Apr, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response

The short-form production market widens its lead on long-form DRTV as more traditional branders continue to test — and succeed — in direct response.


Boost Mobile never set out to use short-form DRTV in a traditional sense. Instead, the Irvine, Calif.-based division of Sprint Nextel Corporation wanted to create advertising that included a very clear call to action that would send consumers to its Web site or to their telephones to dial a toll-free number. "By default, that became short-form DRTV," says Caralene Robinson, director of brand marketing and entertainment for the company, which offers premium "pay-as-you-go" wireless phones and voice data services to 4.3 million customers, the majority of whom are under the age of 25.



Using short-form spots, Boost Mobile (Response, December 2007) focuses primarily on selling communications devices and offering short-term promotional plans. "We'll offer a special and a plan for a specific price, within certain time parameters," explains Robinson. "We've seen some pretty great results from this approach."

The company — which has historically focused on building its brand — has also been able to better define the "star" of its commercials (the phone itself), says Robinson. "During concept development, we can define visually from a copy perspective, and look closely at how the offer plays out through the context of the commercial," she explains. "It has forced us to be much more disciplined and focused about how we sell our products and services."

Vonage tested three different short-form campaigns recently, including the one pictured here, for its telephone service.
Vonage tested three different short-form campaigns recently, including the one pictured here, for its telephone service.

Sometimes, those details make the short-form production process less "fun" than traditional brand advertising, according to Robinson. "We have a reputation for making cutting edge, humorous, irreverent advertising," she says. "But as you're going through the short-form process and working with a director, you have to ask questions like: Did you get the phone shot? Did you clearly articulate the offer? That can put constraints on creative types who just like to make good, funny work."

To work through that challenge, Robinson says her team puts a strong emphasis on pre-production meetings where boards are laid out, and the intersection of copy and the specific scenes are analyzed and tweaked. In return for that extra effort, she says Boost Mobile has racked up significant successes in the short-form realm, all the while benefiting from the ability to measure its efforts based on Web sites and toll-free calls.

Through short-form spots, Boost Mobile is able to drive both brand and clear product messaging.
Through short-form spots, Boost Mobile is able to drive both brand and clear product messaging.

"The top benefit of short-form is that we can actually measure the results," says Robinson. "We've also improved our ability to drive both our brand and a clear product message for whatever we're selling at that particular point in time."

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