TiVo may get me, but I don't get their marketing strategy...

TiVo's "My TiVo gets me" TiVo Man campaign

One out of Five BAD BEES

How do you “TiVo-proof” a TiVo ad? That is the struggle that TiVo is currently facing. Under the guidance of Thaler Kaplan, TiVo has concocted a series of TV ads, radio ads, and movie theatre ads with the theme, “My TiVo gets me.”

The intent of the campaign is to “bring to life” the antenna atop the head of the “TiVo man” (does anyone even know who this “TiVo man” is?)

TiVo budgeted over $15 million to combat the increasingly popular generic cable and satellite DVR over TiVo. I think the major issue that TiVo faces is convincing television viewers that TiVo is better than the DVR that you can lease from your cable or satellite provider. It amazes me how a product that has become synonymous with the category (like Xerox, Post-its, and Q-tips) could inevitably become obsolete, due to the increasingly popular ease of getting your recorder from your cable provider.

As of January 31st 2007, TiVo reported 4.4 million subscribers, 1.73 million who owned a TiVo brand recorder and 2.7 million who had TiVo service through Direct TV satellite service. The total was only 1.8 percent higher than the 4.3 million subs that TiVo reported in 2006.

By comparison, 6.2 million cable TV households and 4.7 million satellite TV households reported to having a generic DVR in 2006. Thus, TiVo has less than a 30% market share for a product and technology that they essentially introduced. Simply put, TiVo is battling to survive.

BUT…I think TiVo can survive. How? They need to convey one single message. Why is TiVo better than my cable/satellite company’s DVR option? My concern with the current flight of ads that TiVo is running is that it focus’ more on a character like the AFLAC Duck or the Geico Gecko. A commodity like insurance can get away with branding through a character, but when a product needs to convey benefits and how they differentiate, focusing on a “TiVo man” might not accomplish the task

Thomas S. Rogers, president and CEO at TiVo said they have spent the last year coming up with significant differentiated features, and ways to reintroduce the TIVO brand in a way that says, “I’m not interested in the generic DVR, I want the TiVo experience.”

What exactly IS the TiVo experience? Well, TiVo has partnered with Amazon.com to provide movie downloads, KidZone parental controls, and the ability to share video clips with other TiVo subscribers. TiVo also has the ability to “learn” which shows subscribers want recorded… hence “My TiVo gets me”.

Commercials feature actors whose head is crowned with the TiVo antenna proclaiming the benefits of TiVo. One features a young man comparing his girlfriend to his TiVo, “My girlfriend doesn’t get me like TiVo does. TiVo knows I like baseball.” The commercial ends with the young man and his girlfriend finding a common ground because he can pause the baseball game at any time.

I have not yet seen the commercials, but as long as they prominently feature the benefits of TiVo, they stand a chance of being successful. If the commercials rely more on the image of the TiVo man (whoever he is), I think TiVo has a problem.

Now if you will excuse me I “TiVo’d” “The Hills” on my generic DVR.