TiVo launches endeavor to double its subscriber base

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TiVo this week unveils a marketing effort aimed at doubling its subscription base that shows it's learned advertising lessons from its own device.

The company`s first significant ad campaign in almost four years is an estimated $15 million push focused on print and radio, a strategy designed to maximize its modest ad budget and avoid the potential for TV ads to be skipped or TiVoed. The effort features a price cut for its set-top box to $99, a price point that makes it more approachable as a holiday gift. TiVo's price tag started at close to $600 but as competition rises has declined over time, with recent offers in the range of $200 to $150.

TiVo may have invented the concept, but it's scrambling now that competitors with low-cost options are moving into the space, from cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner to DirecTV.

"This is the year of growth for TiVo," said Susan Cashen, VP-marketing. TiVo has promised Wall Street it will grow to 10 million subscriptions in the next three or four years and reach profitability at the fiscal year ending in January 2006. "This is the moment. They are prepared to fight," said Brain Hurley, general manager, Grant, Scott & Hurley, San Francisco, TiVo's agency.

`an inflection point'

TiVo consumers "embrace premium brands" and are likely to stick with name brands, as opposed to "someone just going for free" DVR boxes from cable companies, said Ms. Cashen, who noted that the market is at "an inflection point." The campaign carries its first tagline: "You've got a life. TiVo gets it."

Creative features whimsical portraits by British artist David Hughes, each paired with what appears to be a handwritten testimonial for TiVo, smudges and all. One execution pushes new features such as TiVo's ability to display digital photos and calls out TiVoToGO, which allows users to send digital copies of broadcast shows to a limited number of friends over the Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission last week in effect gave its stamp of approval to TiVoToGo over objections raised by the Motion Picture Association of America and the National Football League.

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