Epson's Hearst package: Home for the holidays

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Forget gathering around the hearth this holiday season. Epson America wants to start a new tradition: gathering the family around the computer.

Epson will team with Hearst Magazines for advertorials that introduce two new printers priced under $200. The family-friendly price is just in time for the Christmas retail season.

Epson's latest models--the Stylus Color 640 and 740--extol a computer's ability to "unite the family."

Hearst produced a four-page insert for Epson that will run in three of its titles in December: Country Living, Good Housekeeping and Redbook. This is the first time the marketer has introduced a product through women's magazines.


The strategy fits in with Epson's larger plan to target families with children, said Eric Timperman, senior planning supervisor on Epson at agency DDB Needham Worldwide, Los Angeles. Until now, the company usually relied on business publications to reach tech-savvy home computer users.

The insert lists 10 computer activities families can do together--and, of course, print together on an affordable ink jet printer.

One activity: plucking pictures from photo albums, scanning them onto the computer and e-mailing them to distant relatives.

The insert will appear only in editions going to cities considered Epson's top 15 markets.

Hearst executives realized that full-run circulation didn't fit the needs of all marketers.

"This is a category where we needed to recognize that our out-of-pocket cost is out of reach for certain marketing budgets," said Kathryn Barr, executive director of marketing for Hearst Corporate Sales.


Hearst packaged the customized ad pages with a retail program to win the Epson business.

The publisher also brought in Tech Corps, a non-profit organization that trains teachers and parents to integrate technology into classrooms. Tech Corps will hold training seminars at CompUSA stores in 10 cities. The seminars will offer pamphlets for Epson Stylus Color printers and will provide on-site demonstrations of the new printers.

The in-store events and demonstrations appealed to Epson, said Mr. Timperman, because one of the goals of its campaign is to get across the message that although the printers are affordable, they produce high-quality images.

"The retail events are [designed] to generate store traffic and get people in to actually see and test the product," he said. "The fact that the printers are so high-quality means you have to see it to believe it. Having a sample of the output is one of the best ways to sell the product."

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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