McClain Finlon Softens Scooter Store’s Hard Sell

LOS ANGELES The Scooter Store has launched a $20 million direct response campaign positioning itself as the “mobility advocate.”

The power wheelchair and scooter vendor’s campaign targets consumers 65 and older and includes a TV spot cut into 60- and 120-second versions, as well as a direct mail component. It is the first work from McClain Finlon since the independent Denver shop won the business, previously handled by Warren Direct in Austin, Texas, in November 2003. MARC/USA in Dallas handles retail advertising for the New Braunfels,Texas-based client.

The TV spot is a hybrid of direct response and general advertising, said Nancy Robinson, associate creative director and copywriter at McClain Finlon. It has the look and feel of direct response, with multiple calls to action, but employs a more emotional tone and attempts to differentiate The Scooter Store from competitors through its service, she said.

Set against a dark background, the spot shows smiling elderly women. A voiceover includes lines like, “I know a lady who’s a force to be reckoned with, who believes old is a state of mind and persistence makes dreams come true…People tell her she’s old and people tell her, ‘Slow down,’ but that’s just not her style.” The ad provides a toll-free number and urges its target audience to call for a “free, no obligation consultation.” It also notes that The Scooter Store will work with doctors, help with insurance and handle Medicare paperwork.

The effort focuses on women because they tend to live longer than men, Robinson said. The spot is currently being tested, and the campaign may expand to include men, a couple, or address different cultural segments, she said.

The ad is running through the third week of February on cable and spot TV in 18 markets, on networks including CNN, the History Channel and Animal Planet. Selected for their large senior-citizen populations, markets running the 120-second spot include New York; Philadelphia; Salt Lake City; Seattle; Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fort Myers, Fla.; Lincoln, Neb.; Lubbock, Texas; and Shreveport, La. The 60-second version will air in Chicago; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Cleveland; Atlanta; Minneapolis; St. Louis; and Roanoke, Va.

The campaign is a departure from the client’s previous efforts, which used more of a hard-sell approach and guaranteed a free scooter if the vendor pre-qualified someone and Medicare refused to cover the cost. That led to a strong response rate, but the calls were not being converted to sales, and the client now wants a more qualified person to respond, Robinson said.

“Because of increased competition in the marketplace, we needed to differentiate them from other suppliers,” said Robinson. “Everyone was doing strong, hard-sell direct response TV spots. Everyone was selling the category and no one was selling a separate company.”