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Infomercials help consumers make purchase decisions on product attributes

This new form of advertisement is being done by Buchanan Group, which makes third party advertisements for well-known brands through a number of formats such as Brand Power.

, ET Bureau|
Apr 07, 2010, 05.41 AM IST
It doesn’t have a high decibel splash on TV but whenever it does appear it stands out by virtue of the plain jane, no frills, talking about the functional attributes of the product amidst the glitz and glamour of the other TVCs. A lady in blue, a supermart for a backdrop, product in hand, a list of its key ingredients/qualities and its benefits .

Plain vanilla advertising sans flashy visuals or pricey stars. A commercial for Kurkure features Juhi Chawla who talks about Kurkure’s key ingredients — rice, corn, chana dal and rice barn oil — the same ingredients in your kitchen. Another commercial or infomercial is set in a medical store with a person in doctor’s garb talking about the product use and benefits.

The examples above may be different, but they are from a company that’s looking to provide brands with an alternative communication platform in a highly cluttered media vehicle called television. This new form of advertisement is being done by Buchanan Group, which makes third party advertisements for well-known brands through a number of formats such as Brand Power, Zoot Review and Medifacts . Some of the brands that have used Brand Power in India include Bournvita , Huggies, Stayfree, Domex, Surf Excel and Vim among others.

Infomercials are not a recent phenomenon But the objective to help consumers , particularly housewives make purchase decisions based on product attributes is what Sanjeev Singhai, business director, Buchanan group believes is the USP of the format. “Today there are many brands competing in the same space. How does one choose one over the other? It is increasingly tough for the housewife. That is where this format comes in handy,” explains Singhai.

Different view

Brand Power commercials cost a lot less than the average TVC. The company takes care of filming, the script and production and the final product is then handed over to the client who decides where to run the commercial.

“We recommend the client to run our spots on 2+ frequency channels and not high frequency channels. In such a case we get good reach for the TVC across a variety of channels,” says Singhai. The reason behind running spots on 2+ frequency channels (channels which have moderate viewership or brand recall compared to 5+ channels) is to ensure a safe strategy when it comes to placements.

“One would only want to run such infomercials in conjunction with the regular advertisements. So by going the 2+ channel route, one ensures that there’s no competition with advertising heayweights (read agencies) and make money as well,” says Satyajit Sen, CEO, ZenithOptimedia India.

Infomercials are evenly distributed through the day and mostly around programming viewed by housewives. The media buying duties for the TVC are handles by the agency handling other TVCs for the client. Madison which handles media duties for Bournvita says the infomercial is just like any other commercial.

“There is no difference in buying, it is just like any other campaign ,” explains Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Communications. From a pricing point of view, media planners say that since infomercials ride on attribute communication, the rates are a quarter of regular airtime rates for TVCs.

But why pick an infomercial over the typical TVC? Well, apart from the apparent cost difference, some brands use infomercials around launches of new variants, while others simply reinforce the brand promise. For example, Buchanan Group’s Zoot Review format of advertisement was recently used by Frito-Lay’s Kurkure. Zoot Review’s strategy is different. Zoot uses well-known celebrities to talk about a brand and why she uses that particular brand. “Zoot is an unscripted form of advertising.

We talk to any celebrity using the product and one who can add credibility to the product by recommending it to the customer,” states Singhai of Buchanan. Vidhur Vyas, brand manager, Kurkure says, “Kurkure is the first brand from Frito-Lay to use Zoot. We like the candid conversation format.”

odrej Sara Lee used Brand Power to connect with customers in the South when they introduced Good Night in the aerosol form. “Customers knew about the brand, but didn’t understand the new variant. The infomercial highlighted how aerosols work, the functionality of the product and at the same time reinforced the promise of the mother brand,” explains Arora .

While some brands have adopted the format, industry observers say the platform might not be completely embraced . “Sure, infomercials make more sense in matured markets, but one is unsure if all brands would go all out. Because in a matured market where end users are familiar with functional attributes , marketers would like to focus more on the love marks or the emotional connect which such platform cannot provides ,” says Sen of ZenithOptimedia.

Since it doesn’t form a crucial component of the media plan today, planners say there’s no hardcore quantifiable evidence to reflect its effectiveness. “At best, it has to be seen as an add on and not in isolation,” remarks a planner from a media agency.
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