CASE STUDY: J.C. Penney Direct Marketing expands Eckerd direct TV ads

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Getting quality customers takes more than telemarketing and free-trial offers. That's why J.C. Penney Direct Marketing Services changed its traditional strategy to a multimedia approach centered around direct response TV when it set out to market the Eckerd HealthCare Discount Plan for J.C. Penney Co. subsidiary Eckerd Corp.

The success of a test conducted in November in three Florida markets prompted a national rollout of the spot, created by Beyond DDB, Chicago, on Aug. 14. The test was the Marketing Services Group's first entree into DRTV, and it -- along with in-store materials, direct mail and telemarketing -- increased customer acquisition and frequency.

"People that were once-in-a while Eckerd customers became more frequent Eckerd customers," said Bob Romasco, CEO of J.C. Penney Direct Marketing Services. "It was the best way to increase customer loyalty and intensity."

The 60-second spot includes a toll-free number and testimonials from people who spent the money they saved with the health-services discount card on things such as new TVs or fishing trips. Focus groups showed that "when it comes to healthcare, it's not just about the cost; it's also about the sacrifice that these folks make in order to pay for it," said Lori Beal, senior VP-group director, direct response at Beyond DDB. The DRTV campaign yields higher-quality consumers than the "passive" telemarketing effort because customers are "self selecting," she said.

The spot not only drives customers to call and apply for the program but also supports the in-store take-ones and direct mail, Mr. Romasco said. "Each channel reinforces the other."

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