Incumbent Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, whose contract expires Nov. 1, will not defend the business. The trio of agencies in contention, pared from an initial list of 11, are GMO/Hill, Holliday; Leagas Delaney; and J. Walter Thompson USA, all San Francisco.
The review means that ReplayTV, a major player in the emerging category of personal digital video recorders, is going into the crucial holiday season without fresh advertising or an agency of record. The marketer expects to debut an ad effort from the winning agency in early 2001.
Its brief calls for agencies to present a plan for rolling out ReplayTV's next generation software and to show strategic and tactical thinking for the company's cable, satellite and retail deployment. However, ReplayTV won't rush a new agency into creating a campaign this year.
In order to get through the fourth quarter, ReplayTV has retooled a retail demonstration loop created by Frankel, San Franciso, and will continue to run one or two of Riney's provocative spots, which debuted late last year.
The Frankel commercial, which ran during NBC broadcasts of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and resonated both with retailers and consumers, features "Replay Guy," a kind of Joe Six-Pack everyman who sits in a recliner and asks questions like "Do you ever want to pause live TV?" ReplayTV spent $6 million on media buys during the Olympics. A couple of the Riney commercials are still airing, one of which is a spoof on reality-TV cop shows.
"Our Riney spots were really about getting attention, but a lot of people who saw those spots really don't understand what a digital video recorder does, that it allows you to record, literally with one touch of a button, without videotapes," said Buzz Kaplan, chief administrative officer and exec VP-sales and marketing for ReplayTV.
TESTING AD FOR WOMEN
On Oct. 15, ReplayTV will test a radio campaign targeting women in eight markets; New Mark Communications, Los Angeles, handles. It will also run spots on sports talk-radio shows through yearend. Also on Oct. 15, ReplayTV breaks a new direct response effort by A. Eicoff & Co., Chicago, a unit of Ogilvy & Mather, that introduces the Rileys, a quirky family led by a tightly wound mother very much like the one played by Annette Bening in "American Beauty."
The direct response commercials will highlight the features of the ReplayTV service and will run on MSNBC, ESPN and other cable networks. ReplayTV's interactive advertising is handled by MediaPlex, San Francisco, and it will appear on Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Google and 15 other sites.
Although its effort from a new agency won't hit in time for this holiday season, ReplayTV will get plenty of help from Matsushita Electric Industrial Corp.'s Panasonic brand, which will promote ReplayTV's service in its fourth-quarter advertising.
Meanwhile, the personal digital recorder space is heating up, with analysts projecting sales in the category at 400,000 units by yearend and more than 1 million units next year. Rival TiVo has already started its runup to the holidays with an effort from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. And its partners, Philips Electronics and Sony Electronics, also are highlighting the TiVo service in their ads.
ReplayTV, however, hasn't stood still. It recently signed Coca-Cola Co., Universal Pictures and other marketers to ad deals on its service. Additional deals with major marketers are promised in coming weeks. ReplayTV also entered a joint venture with Motorola and Charter Communications to develop and integrate digital video recording capabilities in digital set-top boxes.