Client Seeks to Boost Image With National Broadcast Effort, Modest Budget Increase
BOSTON–KGA of Middletown, Conn., last week broke its first national broadcast work for Pilot Pen Corp. KGA had created a print execution earlier this year that compared the skills of an accomplished tennis player to the endurance and finesse of a Pilot pen.
The new 30-second spot continues that theme with Pilot chief executive officer Ron Shaw cast in a central role. The spot opens to the inside of a plane being tossed about by turbulence. In a panic, the pilot sends a stewardess into the passenger cabin in search of help. She screams to passengers that she needs a pilot. Shaw stands up, introduces himself as the chief executive officer of Pilot Pen and calmly offers his pen.
The spot is now airing on The Today Show, The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, as well as cable television networks CNN, USA Network, Weather Channel, A&E, the Learning Channel and the Discovery Channel.
Neither Pilot nor Shaw is a newcomer to television. In previous ads, Shaw has touted his product in testimonial-like fashion. “We wanted to keep his dignity as a spokesperson, but we also wanted it to be over the top,” said Michael Hammond, KGA creative director. “In the midst of all this insanity, he gets to stand up and be a normal person.” The spot was produced in such a way that it allows the pen to be changed.
“We are on a branding mission,” said Flo Hansen, Pilot’s director of marketing. “[Pens] are a low-interest product category. They’re not something that makes you smell good or look good. They’re more of an impulse purchase, so how do you make your message stand out for a pen? Obviously, humor works. I think the connection between Pilot pens and the pilot of a plane is a natural.”
Hansen would not disclose media spending, saying only that the company spent “significantly” more than it had on previous efforts. According to Competitive Media Report, Pilot spent $1.6 million on advertising in 1996. Pilot is the fourth-largest pen manufacturer in the country, competing with Bic and Paper Mate for a share of the low-cost writing instrument market.
Pilot awarded the creative portion of its advertising account to KGA last March after a review of five agencies. The review included Kenmar Communications in New York, the agency that had serviced Pilot for 21 years. Allscope Media and Communications in New York is handling media placement.