PeoplePC dials down TV

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A year-and-a-half after it launched with a $14 million TV campaign, PeoplePC is abandoning mass media in favor of a $5 million direct mail effort from its new direct agency of record, Network Direct, Willow Grove, Pa.

PeoplePC, which started in 1999 by selling computers and Internet service directly to consumers via monthly financing plans, has expanded into new channels. It now also works with corporations like Delta Air Lines and Ford Motor Co. to offer home computers to their employees as a perk, and it's looking to help companies wire their customer bases.

"We're not reliant on the consumer channel to acquire members, so our emphasis on that area is somewhat reduced. The $14 million [TV] launch is at this point a thing of the past," said PeoplePC Senior VP-Product Management Mark Barden. "We're becoming much more focused on specific niches" and using direct mail to reach them.

The mailer goes out next month to a rented list of 500,000 names, chosen for their creditworthiness and computer ownership. "They're consumers who perhaps already have a computer and are looking to upgrade and get a better computer, and those people who are looking for an Internet experience but are not techies," said Steve Emory, president-CEO at Network Direct.


The TV effort that launched PeoplePC won a Gold Echo Award last year from the Direct Marketing Association. The campaign, from WPP-owned OgilvyOne World-wide, New York, featured 11-year-old spokesman Marc John Jeffries and promised easy, affordable


The direct-response spots generated more than 11 million calls in 2000, but many of the prospects didn't meet credit criteria. "Right now, the TV campaign is on hold," Mr. Emory said. "It's a wonderful campaign and everyone loves it, but the majority of people who responded to TV were not creditworthy."

The mailer includes a brochure and sales letter; recipients can order via a business reply card, phone or the Web ( The mailer features people from many different ethnic backgrounds and age groups, highlighting the ease of use that PeoplePC offers.

"It shows all sorts of people who wouldn't be considered Internet-savvy ... trying to get across this idea that we will take care of all your technology needs," Mr. Barden said, adding the theme and target reflect PeoplePC's current member base.

The goal is to use Network Direct's first push as a template for future direct marketing efforts to PeoplePC's expanded targets. "It's crucial for us to demonstrate the efficiency of mail," Mr. Barden said, "so that when we go into any of these channels, we know that we've cracked the code on what is the perfect direct mail piece."

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