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Cobra cordless ads: company uses TV to 'relaunch' Intenna.

CHICAGO--Cobra Electronics Corp. is testing TV ads for its cordless telephone to heighten consumer recognition and increase its market share. This is the first time Cobra has used TV ads to sell its Intenna cordless phone.

The Intenna is a name Cobra coined to signify that the phone's antenna system is built into the phone's handset and base. Cobra developed the patented system five years ago.

John Pohl, vice president of marketing, said the ads are part of an overall marketing plan that includes the redesign of the Intenna logo and packaging. He calls the plan a "relaunch."

"I'm treating the Intenna phone like a new product we're launching from scratch because the vast majority of consumers were not aware of it before," he said. "We have a 3 percent market share [in cordless telephones]. Over time we're looking for a significant increase. We'd like to see our share double over the next year or two."

Part of the company's plan is to expand its distribution to include national retail chains. Cobra's phone distribution has become more focused on niche markets where salespeople will educate the consumer about products. He pointed out that Intenna products are best sold where salespeople can explain the product differences to the consumer. Pohl said Cobra plans to expand its distribution to stores that do not accept inordinate levels of returns and where pricing won't cause competition problems.

"We need to increase our market share and volume and the only way to do this is through consultative-selling retailers and mass merchants," he said.

Just five years ago Cobra phones were widely distributed in every major mass merchandiser. Then the company stepped back from that approach to concentrate on alternate channels of distribution such as QVC infomercials and catalogs. Pohl said Cobra phones are currently distributed through QVC, telemarketing, niche stores, such as GTE stores, and a selected number of mass merchandisers.

While Pohl wouldn't get specific about the cost of the ads, he said Cobra's marketing budget is up dramatically for the year. "We want to get the word out about the Intenna, and we want to integrate our consumer and trade efforts with the retailer.

The relaunch of the Intenna came about after Cobra discovered, through market research, that most consumers didn't know what the Intenna was. The company ran monthly focus groups and conducted direct mail research through The Kaden Co., a Lincolnwood, Ill., product development and research firm.

Norm Goldberg, director of marketing, said, They didn't know what Intenna was. They thought it was the correct spelling of antenna."

Goldberg said that in the survey, consumers complained about external antenna breakage, reception, safety and the difficulty in getting replacement parts.

"We found out that the public, if they're informed and they have a chance to understand the difference between our phone and someone else's, they preferred ours without the antenna," he said. "So we put together a plan to put this information into action. We redesigned the logo to emphasize the `In' so people get it."

One of the key promotional sentences used on the packaging and in the ads states: "The antenna is in the phone, not in your way ... and the sound is incredible."

Pohl said two direct response ads have been running this month in four markets on six national cable stations and on one local independent station in each market.

In a 60-second and a two-minute version, called The Cobra Challenge, a representative challenges viewers to compare their cordless phones with external antennas to the Cobra Intenna model. Then advantages to the Intenna are pointed out and an 800 number is posted for viewers to place orders.

Cobra will measure sales that come through via the 800 number and in the stores in the markets where the ads have aired. "We honestly believe our direct response ads will benefit our retail business because it's still advertising and it creates awareness. Plus, a lot of people don't order by phone," Pohl said.

If Cobra is pleased with sales results, then two account support ads will begin as early as mid-August. More ads will roll out in September and October.

Initial account support ads will be tested in the Portland, Ore.; Hartford, Conn., and Detroit. They run 60 seconds and 30 seconds and end with tag lines that direct customers to look for the Intenna cordles phone at nearby retailers.

To push sales and to further its plan to improve communication with consumers, Cobra will continue to use electronic shelf talkers in stores this fall. The shelftalker presents a 30-second story about the product.

"The shelf talker romances the product," Goldberg said. "We started this test last October and we received two to three times the business in the stores where they had the displays opposed to the stores that didn't. We're committed to have shelf talkers in every store possible. "

This fall's new cordless phone product line includes three 25-channel phones. Pold said Cobra increased the channels from 10 to 25 following FCC approval in April. The first model will ship in September and retail from $69 to $79. A second model, with a feature called "private call," will retail from $89 to $99. This model will scramble conversation, preventing outside listeners with scanning devices or on other cordless phone systems from eavesdropping. This model will ship in October along with another cordless phone that has the "private call" feature plus an integrated telephone answering device. This model will retail for $199.
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Title Annotation:Cobra Electronics Corp., Intenna cordless phone
Author:Bloomfield, Judy
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Jul 24, 1995
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