After a year of using mainly infomercials to try to sell CD-I, Philips tonight starts the national portion of a new $15 million advertising campaign touting a drastic $100 price cut, to $299.
Three spots from Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., featuring comedian Phil Hartman promote CD-I's new price and a new slogan, "CD for your TV."
Philips, marketer of CD-I machines under both the Magnavox and Philips brands, hopes the new lower price together with wider distribution will prove to be the key element to carry CD-I into more living rooms.
"We are finally at the mass-market price point where we are able to increase distribution," said Steve Sandborg, VP-marketing for Philips Interactive. CD-I was available in 4,000 stores last year; Philips said it will double that number this year.
Philips won't use infomercials this time around, saying that media strategy was more appropriate when the product was at a higher price point.
Philips has had limited success with CD-I in its three years on the U.S. market, selling only slightly more than 200,000 players.
The new TV spots mention no brand names. Instead, Philips pitches CD-I as the box that supercharges a TV set, adding computer-like interactivity.
While rivals Sega of America, Nintendo of America and 3DO Co. pitch themselves as game platforms, Philips is pushing multiple uses, including videos and a new combination movie/game.
Next month Philips introduces the latest movie/game, a format that lets viewers determine the movie's course. Called "Burn Cycle" and about a futuristic virus, the $59 game features movie-like scenes of characters complete with a musical track. Philips is offering a free copy of the track with the game.
The game is similar to "Voyeur," an interactive mystery starring Robert Culp that came out in January and has won strong sales and plaudits from the industry.
Meanwhile, the company's high hopes for this year include more than doubling the number of CD-I players on home TV sets.
"We view this as the leading set-top, multimedia for the living room," said Mr. Sandborg.