YONKERS, NY: Consumer Reports has launched an integrated public education campaign designed to discourage holiday shoppers from purchasing those frequently-pushed extended warranties.
"We felt that we have a very important message to deliver to consumers as they're expected to spend $1.6 billion [in November and December] on extended warranties," says Ken Weine, communications director for Consumers Union. "It's Consumer Reports' long-standing belief that they are wasteful for consumers and have indeed become big business for retailers."
He added that there are two possible exceptions to that rule: rear-projection microdisplay TVs because repair costs tend to be high and Apple computers because they come with only 90 days of phone tech support.
A big part of the campaign will be targeted at traditional media. Segments have already appeared on Today, Good Morning America, and Squawk Box, and an AP article reached newspapers across the country.
CR is also reaching out to 400,000 of its subscribers via email and to 425,000 "e-activists" identified by Consumers Union. News of the campaign has been featured on such blogs as Engadget. The magazine also took out a full-page ad in USA Today.
Weine said he is confident that the issue is one that will sustain interest from the media over the next few months.
"From now until the end of the holiday reporters and producers are interested in consumer stories," he added.
CR is working with RLM PR on some aspects of the campaign.