Case Study: Rent-A-Center tightens focus of ad push with BrannForbes

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BrannForbes, Dallas, doesn't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, and its first step after landing Rent-A-Center's $60 million account in December 1999 was to change the company's ad strategy to reflect that.

The agency put more emphasis on targeted broadcast and mail to a marketing mix that previously included national TV buys and geographically based mailings.

"We segmented their markets into the most TV effective to the least TV effective, the most radio effective to the least radio effective, and the markets that weren't effective at all for broadcast," said agency Presi-dent Tom Cole. "Now we buy the media that's effective for that market vs. one size fits all."

BrannForbes also mapped out the client's highest-producing areas and appended demographic information to determine the best places to distribute direct mail.

Rent-A-Center, which rents out everything from furniture to appliances, in April launched its new campaign with a 30-second TV spot tagged "Get the good stuff." The ad featured its first spokesman, sportscaster John Madden, to "give us a level of awareness that we hadn't had before," said Ann Davids, VP-director of advertising at Rent-A-Center.

The campaign not only increased unaided brand awareness by 25% and ad awareness by 33%, but also contributed to a double-digit sales increase for 2000 and a record-setting fourth quarter. A new John Madden spot that broke Jan. 15 helped fuel the company's unprecedented January, in which it rented its highest number of units ever.

"The spots are very retail. They focus on promotions and on the 1-800 number," Mr. Cole said.

After its success with spot broadcast, Rent-A-Center shifted ad dollars from direct mail to broadcast for 2001. "As we've gotten smarter about targeting and tightening the circulation of where their customers are, they've been able to hit the same frequency [with mail] in the areas they want to hit and spend less doing it," Mr. Cole said. "Those dollars have been reallocated to broadcast."

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