Right Start's first TV ad effort gives a push to new Web site

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When kids products retailer Right Start began its campaign this fall to promote its 3-month-old online store, the longtime direct marketer turned to direct-response tactics.

Right Start launched its first-ever TV effort, with 60- and 30-second commercials for rightstart.com that aired from October through the third week in December on national cable networks and during syndicated shows.

The $4 million TV campaign via Century Direct, Santa Monica, Calif., was the main component in rightstart.com's $6.5 million fall ad blitz that also included radio ads and several million direct mail pieces.

Instead of displaying an 800-number as in many direct-response ads, rightstart.com sought to drive traffic by offering a 20% discount on purchases made online while prominently featuring the Web address during the commercials.

Right Start said that since the campaign started, its online sales increased 150%. For the company's third quarter ended Oct. 31, rightstart.com sales were $2.5 million.

During the last week the TV commercials aired in December, more than 2,000 sales on the site were directly attributed to the spots.

"The beauty of direct response is you can see exactly what the response is from your campaign by city, by region, by ZIP code -- to determine the strongest markets," said Gerald Mitchell, exec VP-marketing and merchandising for rightstart.com.

In addition to the promotional discount, the advertising features shots from the Web site and snippets showing mothers talking about customer service features such as free shipping, guaranteed same-day shipping and free gift wrapping.

While the retail store arm of Right Start currently has a higher sales volume than rightstart.com, Mr. Mitchell predicted direct-to-consumer sales in 2000 will surpass the retail stores' sales.

Rightstart.com will continue using radio and TV spots this year to help reach a broader audience as product offerings expand to include items for children up to 12 years old.

The TV spots and the online site have "expanded the breadth of our ability to get the Right Start brand out there," Mr. Mitchell said. "It's extended it into areas that we weren't able to sell to before."

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