Last year's headline: Philips tests DM waters in Canada...

Last year’s headline: Philips tests DM waters in Canada

Synopsis: As an experiment, Philips Electronics unleashes a multi-pronged direct response effort for its new waterproof electric shaver, dubbed the Cool Skin from Philishave. Created by Toronto-based agency Bimm Communications, the campaign makes use of an inbound 1-800 call centre, direct mail and a Web ‘kiosk’, where shoppers can order the item online. One challenge facing Philips: uncertainty about the demographic make-up of its target group. Therefore, the company segments its consumer list four ways – by income and age group – and plans to closely monitor the results, which are considered critical for future media buying and target group analysis, according to Richard Toker, vice-president of client services at Bimm. The agency focuses its efforts heavily on customers of retail catalogue chains such as L.L. Bean and Eddie Bauer, as well as magazine subscribers. In order to lure younger blade users, the agency mails pitches to 100,000 prospects, offering them a free ‘cool quartz’ watch.

One year later: Bimm Communications is no longer doing work for Philips Canada, reports Peter Svendsen, director of marketing for Philips’ domestic appliances division in Canada, because the appliance maker’s Dutch parent company mandated it to use Bensimon• Byrne D’Arcy. Nonetheless, Svendsen says he was pleased with the results of the Cool Skin campaign, particularly since sales indicate that users haven’t been lured from Philips’ dry shaver business. ‘It’s gratifying because we obviously didn’t want to introduce a new concept just to move our new customers from that [part of our] business,’ he says. According to Svendsen ‘there were no huge surprises’ in the demographic data collected through the campaign.

Meanwhile, he says, the Web kiosk was simply an ‘exercise’ and that Philips Canada will go online with a full e-commerce-enabled Web site in the second quarter. Later in the year, a section for consumer inquiries and product warranty registrations will be added. ‘From that, we could start to gather databases for future relationship marketing,’ says Svendsen.

Last year’s headline: Home Depot building B2B foundation

Synopsis: Following the lead of its American parent, Home Depot Canada launches a business-to-business catalogue venture. Managed under the company’s Commercial Direct banner, the initiative enables commercial customers to order maintenance, repair and operations products through a toll-free line and have them delivered the following day. The catalogue is viewed as both an acquisition and retention effort and is geared toward residential property managers, contractors and commercial renovation firms, a market the retailer considers to be both large and potentially lucrative. In the U.S., where the Maintenance Warehouse catalogue generated $300 million in sales in 1997, the retailer hit the nail on the head, according to Wayne Hood, an analyst with Prudential Securities in Atlanta, Ga. Hood points out the category is underserved north of the border.

One year later: Home Depot is pleased with the results of the Commercial Direct catalogue, although Toronto-based spokesperson David Day points out that it’s still early days. ‘It’s a start-up, so it’s not where we want it to be at this point, but it will get there,’ he says, adding that the retailer won’t release numbers. He says, too, that it isn’t fair to compare Commercial Direct’s performance to that of Maintenance Warehouse. ‘It’s not an easy comparison to make to the U.S., because we acquired Maintenance Warehouse in the ’90s, [and it] had been in business for decades,’ he says. Still, he says Home Depot Canada anticipates significant growth in the Commercial Direct market, where the competition isn’t nearly as fierce as it is in the home improvement category.

Last year’s headline: CHIP sells seniors on reverse-mortgage idea

Synopsis: The Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP) hopes to convince seniors to register for a reverse mortgage – an income supplement program – on their home. Under the program, CHIP pays the homeowner a monthly income or a lump sum in exchange for a stake in the equity of their home. CHIP recognizes that it isn’t an easy sell, since many seniors, especially those who are old enough to remember the Great Depression, aren’t likely to be comfortable with the idea. Thus, the organization’s direct response campaign focuses on the common desire among seniors to have extra cash to do the things they want. Grey Direct, the Toronto-based agency in charge of the campaign, plans to rely most heavily on television and print to get CHIP’s message across. All ads will feature a toll-free information number and Web address. While direct mail will also be used, Sachi Mukerji, president of Grey Direct, says it won’t be a central element of the effort since it wasn’t drawing the numbers hoped for during the campaign’s testing phase.

One year later: CHIP dropped Grey Direct in late November, reports the agency’s account director Joanne Masse. ‘I think they were looking at working with an independent consultant who understood the target and had experience working with them.’ While Masse says the campaign drove ‘quite a number of calls,’ she says CHIP yanked the TV spot after a ‘very short duration’ because ‘it did not pull as well as what they had previously done.’ CHIP reverted to its old TV spot, while Grey continued handling the print element, which ran all year. CHIP also used a freestanding insert, but ‘from a cost-per-lead standpoint, it didn’t pull as well as the television or print campaigns,’ says Masse.