January 2008 - Channel Crossing: Production

Effective DRTV Creative Demands Innovation, Not Imitation

By Ava Seavey

It’s a scattered, diverse and fast-changing marketplace. Consumers’ attention spans have decreased and product differentiation is often non-existent. So why would marketers feel compelled to do formulaic, copycat DRTV advertising?

This question perplexes me. Instead of leveraging unique selling propositions and positioning they could own, many marketers favor approaches that make them blend in, rather than stand out.

Oftentimes, we hear that one must not be creative when it comes to DRTV. I could not disagree more. And many marketers who agree with me are laughing all the way to the bank as proof.

Perhaps the real culprit is fear. Call me crazy, but “fear” and “entrepreneur” don’t go together like “hand” and “glove.”

A marketer’s biggest fear should be sameness. Clients should hire DRTV companies because they hope they will do one thing: make them rich. Sameness makes no one rich. But a great idea, even a very simple one, can lead to attention, differentiation and cha-ching.

If marketers hire DRTV producers based on how good their ideas are, rather than what great camera angles they can shoot or how cheaply they can bang it out, they might just build their brands into formidable household names-even if it means paying a dollar for an idea rather than five cents.

Let me illustrate a few examples of creative solutions that have worked. We recently created short-form DRTV for a new marketer selling a pain relief product. The typical approach would have testimonials kvetching about how sore they were and how their lives are now miraculously transformed, along with the prerequisite impossible-to-comprehend animation and a bland product shot with electronic upbeat music. None of these typical devices were employed. Instead, we chose a visual metaphor to illustrate the benefits. We selected two well-preserved senior citizens encountering one another at a tango competition and as they dip and spin, the product attributes are called out, as the ailing and envious onlooking crowd oohs and aahs.

Here’s another case in point. Many long-form DRTV marketers insist the only way to present material to the viewer is in a talk show format shot in a studio with plenty of bad testimonials. How many times can consumers see this and maintain their interest? How many times can we hear, “This product really changed my life”? For a now-established nutraceutical marketer, we instead opted to place target demo shoppers in a grocery store environment where the facts of the product were related to them like a real conversation. This show has been running on the air for three years straight.

So, dear marketer, the next time you set about producing DRTV, do yourself a favor and check out the body of work a company has produced. Don’t just look at the lighting, the casting, the graphics- look at the ideas. Ideas don’t have to be expensive, they don’t have to be typical and most of all, they don’t have to imitate…they can initiate! Of course, individual results may vary. And my advice is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure bad production disease.

Ava Seavey, Queen Bee, Avalanche Creative Services Inc., can be reached at (212) 206-9335, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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