Case Study: Diet docs beef up infomercial by trimming typical plot twists

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Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades wanted their new weight-loss supplement to break through the cluttered market. Their strategy-an infomercial minus the usual gimmicks-worked, as the 30-minute commercial for Pentabosol, via the Frederiksen Group, Falls Church, Va., is rolling out nationally after only a monthlong test.

The long-form commercial abandons the testimonials and before-and-after photos typical of many diet-related products in favor of a talk-show style program. A non-celebrity hostess interviews the Eadeses, well-known physicians who developed the Protein Power Diet and authored two books on the health benefits of low-carbohydrate, high-protein regimens. They explain the science behind Pentabosol, using an independently conducted, controlled test of the supplement as proof that it works.

"Most of the time in infomercials you have to let the testimonials say what the product does because, quite frankly, most of them really don't work that well," Michael Eades said, adding that Pentabosol "is not a gimmicky weight-loss thing. It's scientifically proven."

The direct-response TV ad splices commercial-like breaks within the faux talk show to present the 800-number, currently the only way to purchase the supplement.

The infomercial resonated best with viewers familiar with high-protein diets, leading to a high conversion rate. "A much higher percentage of [callers] placed an order than would be expected based on the norms," said Lee Frederiksen, CEO of the ad agency, adding that 75% of callers placed an order. Those results were 40% to 50% higher than expected.

"The nature of the creative really gave them a lot more information than is typical, certainly in a short-form advertisement," Mr. Frederiksen said, "but even more information than is typical in a weight-loss infomercial."

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