November 18, 2008

SPECIAL UPDATE: Cashing In On Obama Fever

It's been two weeks since the election of Barack Obama, and people are still super-excited. If anyone knows how to turn that excitement into cash, it's the DRTV industry! In this special update, I review two new DRTV commercials for commemorative Obama merchandise.

1. OBAMA INAUGURAL DOLLAR ($9.95) is a collectible dollar coin featuring a color portrait of Barack Obama. The portrait is painted on a U.S. Presidential Dollar and layered in 24 karat gold. The pitch: "Now you can own a piece of American history." The offer includes a certificate of authenticity from "The New England Mint." The bonus is a Kennedy Half Dollar painted with a different Obama portrait and also layered in gold (just pay S&H). This is a Tristar product.
This is a classic DRTV approach to a collectible coin, and it accomplishes everything a good coin commercial should. It captures the essence of the person/event being honored. It builds value by highlighting the quality of the coin and its limited availability. And it reinforces that value perception with an important-sounding issuer (New England Mint) and certificate of authenticity. However, it does these things in the most basic way possible. In other words, while this will no doubt be a successful campaign (albeit short-lived), it could have been stronger if more attention were paid to the details.

2. OBAMA VICTORY PLATE ($19.99) is a collectible porcelain plate featuring a color portrait of Barack Obama. The pitch: "Own a piece of history." The plate is accented with 22 karat gold trim and features the inscription, "Change has come" (also in 22 karat gold). The offer includes a display stand and certificate of authenticity from "The American Historic Society." The bonus is a dollar coin featuring a color portrait of President-Elect Obama. This is a Telebrands product.
This will be an interesting study in what matters more: a product or its commercial. That's because this campaign is competing with the Inaugural Dollar campaign using an inferior product but a superior commercial. I call the product "inferior" only because the market for a collectible coin is much bigger than the market for a collectible plate, in my opinion. (The plate itself sounds like it's beautifully made.) After all, plates take up space, only appeal to a certain taste and require a nice place to display them (e.g. a curio). Coins can be stored anywhere, and they are typically squirreled away in the hope that they will increase in value someday. (Minor point: The coin is also $10 cheaper than the plate.)

Creatively, however, this DRTV commercial accomplishes everything the Inaugural Dollar commercial failed to accomplish. It gets all the details exactly right, down to an inscription that records the popular and electoral vote counts for this historic election. It also announces an obvious fact the other commercial completely missed. Why is this election so historic? Because President Obama will be the first African-American Commander in Chief in history! Hard to believe, but that fact does not appear anywhere in the other commercial. A final thing I liked: They increased the urgency to buy by declaring "the die will be destroyed forever" after a set number of days, and then limiting the purchase quantity to two plates per caller. All in all, nicely done. But will the plate beat the coin? I doubt it. Yes, the plate has the coin as its bonus, but that's the problem with trying to do two things in one commercial -- only one can get the attention it deserves. 

Source: “New Spots for Week Ending 11/14/08,” IMS

* See my July 24, 2007 post for a complete explanation of the D7 product score.
** See my October 22, 2007 post for a complete explanation of my commercial rating system.

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