September 2008 - Honoring Our Vets


As the industry continues to gain street cred on Madison Avenue, Electronic Retailer
looks back and celebrates the milestones, mishaps and future plans of a few of the
biggest names in direct response.

By Pat Cauley

With every passing day, direct response marketing becomes more of an American and global mainstay. But for some of the longstanding industry veterans, what lessons have they learned? How has the industry changed over the years? Where do they see the industry moving forward? Electronic Retailer conducted interviews with a variety of DR companies that have been in the industry for at least 10 years.

Bosley Inc., VP of Marketing George Fettig
History: Hair restoration and direct marketing pioneer Dr. L. Lee Bosley founded Bosley in 1974. Bosley was one of the first medical practices to advertise its services direct to the consumer. Dr. Bosley’s commitment to bringing his message directly to the consumer was truly groundbreaking during that early time and one that was not readily accepted, if not outright rejected by the more conservative medical establishment of the day. But the company pressed ahead, continually refining its direct marketing techniques, and today stands as the single largest cosmetic surgery practice in the world, with 90 offices in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Today, Bosley has evolved into a sophisticated multichannel direct marketer, employing 650 team members. Marketing strategies include long-form and short-form TV, radio, print, database marketing and a multi-dimensional online marketing program. Bosley’s long-form campaign has been on the air continuously since 1994.

What is your proudest moment over the last few years? Personally, my proudest moment was being elected to the ERA Board of Directors. From a business standpoint, I am proud of the fact that Bosley company revenues have continued to increase steadily each year for the past 10 years.

Is there a particular regret or anything you would change or take back from the past few years? I think we were a couple of years late in really understanding the power of the Internet and grasping how important online marketing would become in the marketing mix. I am proud to say, however, that we have now figured it out and place great emphasis on ensuring that our Internet marketing program is as complete and sophisticated as our offline media strategies.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last few years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? File this under “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” We recently worked with a major airline to offer free frequent flyer miles for anyone who would come in to see us and take advantage of a free consultation. I greatly underestimated the number of consumers so hungry for free air miles that they would actually drive 30-50 miles and sit through a one-hour discussion of their hair loss, when they had a full head of hair!

Motivational Fulfillment & Logistics Services, President Hal Altman
History:
MFLS has been in the fulfillment and distribution for over 31 years, and has worked with most of the major companies in the direct response and retail business. The company was chosen to administer fulfillment and fund raising for both the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles, and the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. MFLS coordinated the fulfillment and telemarketing for 11 Comic Relief Shows on HBO, and performed the same services for Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans on HBO, Hurricane Relief, Live Aid and many other major televised telethons. The company developed and administered the JCPenney Travel Club and the JCPenney shopping channel.

What is your proudest moment over the last 31 years? Last year, we had a 30th anniversary party for our clients, friends and staff. A great many of the staff, supervisors and managers have been with the company over 20 years, and we were able to introduce them to all our guests and salute them.

Is there a particular regret or anything you would change or take back from the past 31 years? I would have liked to have known on a more personal basis the other individuals who are in fulfillment, so we could pool ideas and work together on major programs to bring greater growth and expansion to the industry.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last five years? In the growth and importance of the Internet to our industry. Web-based sales and advertising, along with the research that is gleaned from web-based business, has had a major influence on our business. Coupled with the explosion of retail and its importance to the eventual bottom line of a product, our business is certainly different than it was five years ago.

globaldeliveryservices.com/Latino Media Services, President Stan Bruckheim
History: Our company gds.com/ Latino Media Services is a primary provider of pan-regional media-buying services to the Latin American direct response industry. We have also expanded into European media as European Media Services. I personally have been involved in this industry for 26 years.

What is your proudest moment over the last 26 years? Being named winner of “Biggest Contribution to the Latin American Industry” at the first Latino Awards of Excellence in 2005, and then again in 2007.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 26 years? For us, the biggest change has been the expansion of a largely U.S.-based marketing approach into an international industry, and the opportunities that going global have created for our company and many others. I truly believe we have played a significant role in helping keep the Latin American industry strong, stable and profitable for global suppliers and local marketers alike.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 26 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? Few remember that before the Reagan Administration deregulated advertising in 1984, before the first infomercials started airing in ‘85 and ‘86, non-profits were the only groups able to air long-form advertising. In the early ’80s, a Pasadena agency called the Russ Reid Company was buying thousands of “infomercial” blocks for our clients. And back then, as one of only of a handful of agencies buying long-form ad time, we were really defining the marketplace. Our buyers made frequent market trips to introduce to stations why they should devote some of their airtime to long-form advertising, especially in dayparts like early morning and late night, in which traditional advertising demand was low. Avails were 60 minutes (not 30!), OTOs (one-time-only) and weekly series, and commitments were often annual…before infomercials existed.

Concepts TV Productions, President Collette Liantonio
History: Full-service creative production company, writer, producer, director of infomercials and direct response commercials for 25 years.

What is your proudest moment over the last 25 years? Winning awards for best infomercial and best short form at the same ERA Awards Show in 1994 was a proud moment.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 25 years? We moved from being perceived as a negative influence on the retail world to being the single biggest positive influence on retail sales. We are selling more products than ever before thanks to the Internet.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 25 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? While shooting on the island of Jamaica, it threatened to storm just as we were about to shoot. Wayne, “the rain man,” a ganja-smoking Rastafarian approached me and offered to keep it from raining if I crossed his palm with $5. It seemed like a great deal. I paid. It didn’t rain. Go figure. On the same shoot, we had assembled a dozen women who were there to tell us their success stories regarding weight loss. All of them had followed the program promoted by our infomercial guru. Unfortunately, all of them had also “dated” the guru and when they compared notes, they were so enraged at the two-timing “xx%*#” they refused to be taped for the infomercial!

Northern Response (Int’l) Ltd., President Richard Stacey
History: The company was founded in 1984 by Richard J. Stacey and is a leading distributor of third-party infomercials and DRTV spots internationally to over 90 countries worldwide and in Canada via DRTV, shopping channels, the Internet and retail stores. The company has handled over 1,000 DRTV products over 24 years.

What is your proudest moment over the last 24 years? Over the last 24 years, our proudest moments have been our privilege to work with amazing suppliers and handle some of the biggest DRTV products of all time, including Tae Bo, Tony Robbins Personal Power, P90X, Little Giant Ladder, Proactiv Solution, Tony Little’s Gazelle, Ronco, Ab Roller, BluBlockers and many others.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 24 years? There have been a lot of changes over the years. We’ve seen direct response in print decline, while at the same time DRTV expanded. We’ve seen the growth of new DR mediums such as shopping channels, the Internet and now mobile channels. In the last few years, we’ve seen the rapid rise of Internet DR and the leveling off of TV. We’ve also seen marketers go from specializing in one channel like TV or print to being multichannel marketers. Most important, we’ve seen consumers grow along with the industry, as they have become more comfortable shopping by DR. The next big DR medium will likely involve mobile marketing.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 24 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? I remember going to the very first ERA trade show and few people had their own tradeshow booth. Instead, many of us set up in these wire cages the hotel provided. It looked kind of strange, but nobody cared back then; we were just happy to be with others who shared the same vision for the future of DRTV as we did. Those were the early days!

Meltzer Media Productions, President Jeff Meltzer
History: Started in 1985, my company was credited with creating the first skincare infomercial ever. It was the first time there were before/afters with women who used skincare products. Since that time, MMP has created, produced and edited almost 2,000 campaigns in every selling category in DRTV. We’re a full-service turnkey company that creates spots and shows, supervises DRTV campaigns including fulfillment, telemarketing, media and distribution and helps in
the creation and launch of new products.

What is your proudest moment over the last 23 years? Too many to list, but since you asked:

1. Creation of the first long-form skincare infomercial (grossed over $100 million);
2. Creation of the Iconic Sports Illustrated campaigns (sneaker and football phones, swimsuit videos, blooper videos, etc.);
3. Creation of the first Travelmerical Series (The Vacation Store) for the Travel Channel;
4. Creation of Mad Math (Edu-mercial) for The Learning Channel (won the Emmy award for Best Children’s Cable series);
5. Tae Bo, The Bean, The Heat Surge, Finally Fast, etc.;
6. Being in one of the toughest businesses in the world for 23 years and having the best year of our existence; and
7. Having some of the most talented people in TV work for me.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 23 years? The buyer has become much smarter and more sophisticated, so your products and offers have to be that much better in order to sell what you need to justify the costs of running a DRTV campaign. The breakup of the networks and the proliferation of cable channels have niched out the viewing audience. You can’t be all things to all people anymore. You need to macro-down your product and hone in specifically on the unique selling proposition of your product or service. Using DRTV to create a brand and drive retail has been the newest trend to spread the risk and cost, as well as created multiple distribution outlets for products.

Consequently, what changes or advancements do you think the direct response industry may experience moving forward? Interactivity for instantaneous purchases from your phone or TV is next. It’s already happening in some places in limited applications, but will reach the mass of buyers very soon. In production, spots and shows shot in a fully digital format are starting to surpass analog production. Even though most cable channels are not broadcasting in high definition, some are. The networks will be fully digital by next year and many of their affiliates will follow. Of course, the digital look is not great for all products and adds on to the cost of producing a spot or show.

Cannella Response Television Inc., President & CEO Rob Medved
History:
Cannella Response Television was formed in 1985. Company founder Frank Cannella pioneered the first infomercial (known as a program-length commercial) on the air in 1982 and expanded the media placement format in 1984 with the onset of industry deregulation. Cannella Response Television specializes in television direct response media placement on national cable networks and broadcast stations, with in-depth results analysis on its proprietary Media Star software.

What is your proudest moment over the last 23 years? There are so many that stand out: from managing the behemoth hits like Tae Bo and John Beck Real Estate, to opening L.A. and N.Y. offices, to being recognized by People magazine as the founder of the infomercial. In reality, though, we are most proud that the industry as a whole has survived and evolved to the point of a solid, $23 billion marketing channel with long-standing and reputable marketing companies.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 23 years? Wow, that list is quite a long one. You have to realize that our roots are back when cable was just starting to expand and the Internet and e-mail weren’t even on the radar! So, we’ve seen it all, from the evolution of the direct response infrastructure, to the rapid expansion of television distribution into virtually every household and fragmented into hundreds of channels. I think the important factor is that an entrepreneurial spirit still exists that drives both marketers and vendors to change with the industry, creating new and more effective ways of reaching consumers and maximizing ROI.

Euro RSCG EDGE, Founder & CEO Steve Netzley
History:
Euro RSCG EDGE is a combination of four agencies in three different DR disciplines. Tyee Productions, Maximum Coverage Media (MCM), Dahlin, Smith, White Advertising (DSW) and Euro RSCG Boston (a division of Circle.com). Portland, Ore.-based Tyee Productions, founded in 1988, was a DRTV creative and production shop specializing in delivering the highest quality productions in the DRTV industry to non-traditional, multichannel advertisers. MCM, founded in 1992, was a DRTV-specific media planning and buying agency located in Carlsbad, Calif. Dahlin, Smith, White Advertising (DSW) was a best-in-class technology advertising agency headquartered in Salt Lake City. Euro RSCG acquired Tyee in 1999, MCM in 2001 and combined them to form Euro RSCG DRTV, the largest full-service DRTV agency in the world. In 2005, Euro RSCG DRTV acquired DSW and in 2008 acquired Euro RSCG Boston (a division of Circle.com), and is now Euro RSCG EDGE, a full-service direct response agency.

What is your proudest moment over the last 20 years? My proudest moment is still happening; we’ve never had a year in which we didn’t grow.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 20 years? The biggest change I’ve seen is that we’ve gone from an industry that was largely single distribution channel focused, dominated by entrepreneurial marketers and viewed by retail establishments as a channel conflict, to an industry that creates and drives global multichannel businesses, is used by some of the largest advertisers in the world, and is now embraced by retailers.

What changes or advancements do you think the direct response industry may experience moving forward? DR agencies will no longer be seen by advertisers as niche agencies incapable of coming up with the big idea to launch a brand. They’ll continue to evolve into integrated, multi-discipline agencies capable of creating profitable transactions across a broad spectrum of distribution channels profitably while developing brand awareness, not just product awareness with the consumer.

Mercury Media, CEO Dan Danielson
History: Mercury Media is celebrating its 20th year of business this year. We presently purchase over $350 million each year in long-form and short-form DRTV media. Mercury was a pioneer in the early days of infomercials and has continued to grow as the industry has grown. We have run some of the largest and most famous DRTV campaigns in the history of the genre.

What is your proudest moment over the last 20 years? We have many things that we are proud of over the course of the last 20 years. I think that hitting the 20-year mark is one of our proudest. We have seen the industry change dramatically over the years and many campaigns, products, people and companies have come and gone over these many years; we’re proud to still be standing after all this time.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 20 years? The industry has changed dramatically. It’s interesting to go back and read articles from 10 or 15 years ago and see what individuals were predicting. Some of those predictions have come to pass and many have not. We have seen the industry fragment, competition increase, the business mature, marketers become savvier and the business more mainstream.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 20 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? The biggest lesson we have learned and continue to learn over these many years is that everything needs to be tested. We have seen some beautiful creative and offers that have not worked, and we have seen some marginal looking creative with difficult or questionable offers work incredibly well. The buying climate has changed and continues to change and everything needs to be tested!

BJ Global Group of Companies, President BJ Fazeli
History: For almost 20 years, BJ Global Direct has been able to take an idea and turn that concept into a “global reality.” Our services include design, manufacturing, marketing, script-to-screen commercial production and global distribution. With technology providing endless opportunities for businesses to globalize, BJ Global Direct utilizes e-commerce with its innovative online shopping mall UbuyEZ.com. Taking the power of television advertisement and ease of online purchasing, we are able to fuse direct response and the Internet, maximizing marketing strategies of the future.

What is your proudest moment over the last 20 years? The success of the Kymaro brand name would be my proudest moment.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 20 years? More use of technology and the integration of e-commerce.


Thane Direct, CEO Amir Tukulj
History: Established in 1989 by veteran infomercial executives William and Denise DuBarry, Thane emerged as a major U.S. infomercial producer-distributor and marketer. The company established its international division in 1997, naming Amir Tukulj as head of the division. Since then, Thane International’s non-U.S. operations continued to grow, until Thane transformed itself from a U.S. company with an international division to an international company with a U.S. division. In 2004, Tukulj was named CEO of Thane International.


What is your proudest moment over the last 19 years? My proudest moment is a recent one when our 2008 sales and earnings became a company record. We also based our entire company philosophy on servicing the customer, so I was also very proud when our customers named Thane Direct “Supplier of the Year” several years in a row.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 19 years? The industry has become more global and more competitive. The Internet has obviously had a profound impact on opportunities and on the bottom line, along with other non-TV channels of distribution that have grown in importance. Live home shopping has expanded worldwide, and the quality of DR-based products has also improved, which helps the entire industry.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 19 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? While many people tend to look at DR as a hit-and-miss business, I have learned that if you play your cards right and focus on your core strengths, you will greatly improve your chances for success. Because of the ways in which we approach product development and marketing, nine out of 10 shows pay out for our company.

Verimark Holdings Limited, Managing Director Michael van Straaten
History: Verimark was founded in 1977. The company pioneered DRTV in South Africa 18 years ago, and is still today the dominant market leader developing product, producing TV commercials and distributing through a wide variety of channels.

What is your proudest moment over the last few years? Our three proudest moments were when Verimark and its management were honored with the following accolades: twice chosen as one of “South Africa’s Best Entrepreneurs” by Ernst and Young and ABSA Bank; twice selected as one of South Africa’s Top 20 Non-Listed Companies, a competition sponsored by Arthur Andersen, Business Day and Wits Business School; and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in
July 2005.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last decade? We saw that direct response in its original form had become an unworkable business model. Verimark responded by pioneering the integration and distribution of DRTV products through retail outlets, and our own As Seen On TV stores, setting the benchmark internationally. Consequently, what changes or advancements do you think the direct response industry may experience moving forward? We do not see the above trend changing, so there should be a major focus on selecting product concepts and marketing strategies that focus on growth opportunities outside the traditional DR model (Internet, retail, etc.).

Wendi Cooper — since 1993, C Spot Run Productions, LLC — since 1997
History: Wendi Cooper has been in the direct response business since 1993 with her first hit Six Day BioDiet, a long-form diet infomercial that grossed over $300 million between 1994 and 1996. C Spot Run Productions, LLC, was formed in 1997 after Cooper had success with the next generation diet infomercial “Slender Secret — The Power of 4 Days,” which became the number-one selling diet in Brazil in 1996. Since 1997, Cooper has led the company, which specializes in creative productions that are supported by intelligent campaign management representing the client side.

What is your proudest moment over the last 15 years? I have a few. The most proud moment was when I walked on the showroom floor at the 2000 ERA Annual Convention and saw this amazing Product Showcase constructed and glaring at me. I had tears in my eyes-and felt really stupid, but incredibly proud. The second proudest would be when I was honored with the “Volunteer of the Year” award at an ERA Board dinner back in 2003. I am also proud that I have never had to change the name of my company, nor shut its door since its inception and that CSRP has never been sued in any form whatsoever. That’s an accomplishment in any business.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 15 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? There are probably hundreds of them. Here’s a humorous one that spans two ERA Annual Conventions. I believe it was 2000 and ERA was celebrating people in the industry for a 10-year something or other. During the awards ceremony, many industry leaders were invited up on the stage one by one to accept a “You are a Star” award. It was quite something-the lights, the celebration. I remember looking down at Earl Greenburg’s big grin, as I was center stage with this huge light on me; I was so proud. Just before that at the cocktail reception, Tim Hawthorne came up to me and asked me to present an award with him. So, at the last minute I agreed. So there I am, not only once, but twice that night in the spotlight. Fast forward to the following year at the next annual…I was at the TMP Pavilion and Kim Banks and some other gals were sitting on a couch. I was standing in front of them when Kim says, “Wendi what are you wearing to the awards tonight, are you wearing the same black pants as last year?” I said, “Actually I brought them…why?” “Didn’t anyone tell you that you could see right through them-it was like you were standing on the stage in your G String! You didn’t know?!” We all laughed of course. But when I got home I looked at the DVD that Sue Delaney had sent me of the show and sure enough there I was in all my glory standing in the middle of the stage with the light going right through my pants! No wonder Earl had a big smile on his face!

Kingstar Direct Inc./Kingstar Media, CEO Ed Crain
History: Kingstar has been producing direct response advertising for over 15 years. We began buying DR media in the Canadian marketplace in 2001, and set up Kingstar Media Inc. that same year.

What is your proudest moment over the last 15 years? The absolutely astounding success we have had with Kingstar Media, which has grown exponentially over the last six years, and the exceptional group of buyers, planners and account reps that have made it happen.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 15 years? It’s matured. It takes more planning and long-term commitments to succeed. Backend management, customer service and retention are the new must-haves for today’s DRTV marketer.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 15 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? There are numerous stories of faulty prototypes, talent miscues and extraordinary on-camera talents. But to me, nothing was more fun than watching an 87-year-old Jack LaLanne (where we shot the first infomercial) do 20 little sit-ups in a chain with his legs perfectly horizontal to the ground, while the crew stood around drinking coffee and eating doughnuts!

It Really Works!, Steve Dworman
History: Steve Dworman published “The Infomercial Marketing Report” for 12 years. He is the author of “$12 Billion of Inside Marketing Secrets Discovered through DRTV,” available through Amazon. Recently, he has produced, directed and written a series of infomercials featuring Hugh Downs.

What is your proudest moment over the last 12 years? My success ratio of producing successful shows- four out of five have rolled out.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last few years? It’s much more difficult. It’s been a wonderful thing watching the tremendous success Guthy-Renker has shown over the past nine years. Really amazing!

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last few years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? I always remember when Mike Lasky, the inventor and founder of Psychic Friends Network, told me that every night he went to bed and woke up $1 million richer.

All Star Media Inc. (1990 to 2001) and Klondike Marketing Inc. (1998 to present), President and Founder Caswell Forrest
History: Purchasing media for infomercials, direct response short-form and traditional advertisers.

What is your proudest moment over the last few years? Continuing to keep up with the changing market demands, and providing clients appropriate direct response services in an ever-changing
selling environment.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last few years? Direct response is gaining in respectability because everyone wants to measure results and the effectiveness of their advertising dollar. This need is becoming the anchor of all marketing and DR has been living in this world since its beginnings.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last few years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? Our industry has been populated with many “get-rich-quick” people. This has created an image that undermines the real power and scope of what we do. I believe we are turning a corner where our services and what we provide clients will take on a new value and meaning in the marketplace of today and tomorrow.

AnswerNet Network, President & CEO Gary Pudles
History: The AnswerNet Network is the world’s largest telemessaging business (telephone answering service) and a leading provider of contact center and fulfillment services.

What is your proudest moment over the last 10 years? On the business side, my proudest moment was when we were able to buy out the institutional owners and investors of the company. My proudest service delivery moment was the establishment of AnswerNet Cares, a program that encourages and supports employee philanthropy. I am also extremely proud whenever we are able to provide support for people in need, such as emergency response situations like Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami and identity theft/data breach.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 10 years? The industry continues to change because of the changes in the way in which we communicate. I think we are going to see more and more challenges related to getting the message into the brains of consumers. The Internet has created new ways of communicating, from social networking to IM, Twitter, etc. People communicate differently, and the DR industry is going to continue to find new ways to communicate.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 10 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers? The funniest story in the history of AnswerNet, in my opinion, was from a number of years ago. Over time, we have acquired a number of call centers that were lacking in technology when we bought them. In one of the first sites we added to the network, we put in a router. There was something wrong with the router, so the guys in tech services asked the manager if the router came with any documentation. The manager said, “Yes, it came with documentation.” So the tech guy asks the manager to photocopy and fax it over to him. The manager took the CD that contained the documentation, put it on the photocopier, made a copy and faxed the photocopy of the CD over to the tech guy!

Atomic Direct Ltd., President Doug Garnett
History: Prior to founding Atomic Direct in 1998, Doug Garnett was vice president of strategy and account director at Tyee. Atomic Direct specializes in brands, consumer strategy, infomercials, and driving sales with television.

What is your proudest moment over the last 10 years? When our work for BuderEngel & AAA of California won the “Best in Show, Television” from the Insurance Marketing Communications awards. This DRTV spot beat out AllState Insurance’s traditional, 30-second national spots for the award. It is an un-paralleled recognition of a DRTV campaign. Along with that campaign is our work for Professional Tool Manufacturing (Drill Doctor & Work Sharp) where our half-hour show has proven that niche products can thrive with DRTV.

Is there a particular regret or anything you would change or take back from the past 10 years? Our only regrets have been when we violated our early commitment to never work for the traditional DRTV business. DRTV is superb communication and advertising. The future of DRTV is for fully integrated manufacturers with multiple channels of distribution. Unfortunately, many of the companies who discovered early success did so with highly questionable business practices…focusing on selling low-quality products with misleading marketing. We’ve only rarely worked with the traditional DRTV “yell & sell” business. But when we have, we’ve been reminded that the traditional business is a dead-end for DRTV.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 10 years?Production value in DRTV has improved dramatically. Unfortunately, message and communication quality hasn’t improved along with production value. But, that’s just our next step. We’ve been helping lead the charge, applying DRTV communication to solve problems for a wide range of traditional manufacturers with retail distribution. These non-traditional DRTV businesses thrive with smart DRTV campaigns. We’ve also pioneered new approaches to solving business problems with short-form DRTV, the primary choice of brand manufacturers. It’s also become a large trend across the industry.

Imagine Fulfillment Services (IFS), Owner Andy Arvidson
History: IFS was founded in 1998 based on a total team effort daily. IFS has 300 full-time employees, 300,000 square feet of building space, is ISO 9001 certified and is 10 minutes from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

What is your proudest moment over the last 10 years? Treating all employees, vendors and clients with the highest level of respect and giving back to the community daily.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 10 years? Major brands are using direct response to generate additional revenue channels. Lead generation infomercials have become very powerful for the pharmaceutical companies and many others.

Is there a memory, lesson or humorous story that’s occurred over the last 10 years with regard to your company that would be of interest to our readers?

1. Learn to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously;
2. Do the very best daily in every area of your life;
3. Keep simple tasks ‘simple’ and strive to make complicated situations ‘simple’;
4. Be creative and innovative; and
5. Work and advance confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Onyx Productions Inc., President Joan Renfrow
History: Founded in 1993 by Joan Renfrow. We provide value-added production services to advertisers, ad agencies and television direct marketers. Onyx Productions’ work comes from the DRTV industry. We offer creative, production and campaign management services, show doctoring and testimonial sourcing for brands and entrepreneurs in both English and Spanish. At Onyx Productions, we specialize in clear, effective and accurate communication combined with a strong motivating “sell” to create results.

What is your proudest moment over the last 15 years? I have won numerous awards over the years, but I am the most proud of the Direct Marketing Association’s Broadcast Council’s Jake Weisbarth Spirit Award. That award is very personal. Onyx Productions’ proudest show doctoring moment was in 2007 and 2008. This success story started first in 2007 using our production expertise to revitalize, refresh and enhance its “Fluidity Fitness” infomercial. Then in 2008, we updated this widely viewed and highly successful infomercial. Not only did Onyx Productions’ re-edited version of the original infomercial change its focus from an upscale customer base to a much broader audience of weight-conscious consumers, but it re-fueled the infomercial for another year’s run and quickly re-invigorated sales results, stretching the life of that show and pushing Fluidity Fitness into the top 10 infomercials for both years.

Is there a particular regret or anything you would change or take back from the past few years? Our industry is still too tolerant of companies that market low-end, cheaply made knock-off products.

In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last five years? We have raised our creditability as an industry. As we now see a number of brands using direct response to generate sales. Personally, I am very proud of the fact that we have come a long way from the slice-and-dice industry. Integrated marketing is going to continue to grow, the Internet is here to stay, and broadcast and Internet-based DRTV will be around for a long while.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment