Web Cleans Up for Comet

A television ad campaign for Prestige Brands’ Comet Clean and Flush has a twist: Instead of asking viewers to call a toll-free number to get more information or a promotional offer, the ads direct viewers to visit a URL to request a rebate coupon for the new toilet cleaning system.

It’s an unusual tactic for a consumer packaged goods company, but Clean and Flush is an unusual product. Comet Clean and Flush lets people clean their toilets using a disposable brush head that can be flushed when the cleaning job is done. The task of explaining its value proposition and how it works is a little more involved than for more familiar products, making the Web an ideal medium for its marketing.

Though Comet’s interactive agency, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Robot Builds Robot (RoBRo) is using the newest of marketing media to get the message across, it’s also drawing upon traditional direct marketing techniques to track the promotion.

Avery Pack, president of RoBRo, said the campaign, which went live Friday on national cable networks including Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Biography and The Weather Channel, is the result of several test campaigns that compared toll-free numbers and traditional response mechanisms with Internet response mechanisms. RoBRo created multiple custom call-to-action Web sites to track response by offer and by region. The Web sites are designed to explain and further promote the product as well as to collect consumer data for distribution of the coupons and rebates.

“Prestige prides itself on developing innovative brand extensions,” Pack said, “so they’re open to integrated marketing programs and experimenting with different forms and formats that complement their general sensibility.” RoBRo, founded in 2000, has worked with Prestige, which markets many other consumer products including Prell haircare and Murine eye drops and ear care, for more than a year.

“The Web is much more efficient than paying for 800-number service. In addition, we do not feel that an automated 800-number service delivers any better customer service versus the Web,” said Kevin Sherman, Prestige product manager.

“All of the murky tracking procedures you have with the telephone, you can do with the Internet in a very elegant way,” Pack said. “You have a tremendous amount of control in terms of who you send to, and what you want to offer them.” For example, on the Web, promotions can be changed quickly, whereas it can take more than a day to change call center scripts. Even better, Pack said, is the Web’s ability to track all of the customer information as it comes in. “There can be an infinite variety of offers tied to different URLs,” he said, “so immediately you eliminate the expense and confusion of telephone marketing.”

Web distribution of the offers maximizes the effects of the television ads, Pack said, and the mini-Web sites let visitors pass the offers along to friends, which themselves become quality leads. Visitors can be pushed to different mini-sites, view different content and be tracked separately. For example, one mini-site may be designed for those responding to the TV ads, another for someone responding to a referral email, and still another for someone who came to the site via search.

There are drawbacks to using the Web as the response medium, Pack admitted. Not everyone has Web access at home, and it may not be as easy to log onto the site as to pick up the phone. “But what you get in return,” he said, “is the opportunity to give more nuanced information about the product than you can in a 30-second spot, and the opportunity for visitors to pass the information along more easily.”

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