QABy Thomas Haire ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cannella’s Milestone: a Reason
to Look Back and Ahead
BURLINGTON, Wis. — Since 1985, Cannella Response Television has been one of the leaders in the traditional direct response television space. While the company is on the verge of celebrating its 25th anniversary next
year, its founder, Frank Cannella, is celebrating his 30th year in the marketing business in 2009. Recently, media investors ZM
Capital and Palladium Equity Partners made a significant investment in the company — allowing Cannella Response to expand
its current offering of media products to major DRTV advertisers. In addition, Veronis Suhler Stevenson will provide mezzanine
debt financing along with equity co-investment in the transaction. Response caught up with Cannella and Rob Medved, the
company’s president and CEO, to discuss the company’s past — and its future.
Frank, what’s the most memorable
moment of your 30 years in the busi-
FRANK CANNELLA: Being in the right place
at the right time to pioneer the infomercial
concept in 1982. My boss passed along a
lead, and said it’s a half-hour show that
says it can grow hair for balding men.
There were two problems with this. At the
time, there was nothing out there that
we knew could grow hair — this was 2-3
years before minoxidil came to the fore-
front. Secondly, FCC regulations held ads
to a two-minute maximum. It was good
practice for a new kid, and a brand new
business. As it turned out, one thing led to
another. We started placing the show, and
the product did what it said it would do.
Two years later, the industry challenged
the FCC regulations once again, asking,
“If you can run 30-second spots back-to-
back, why not this format?” My roots are
in that kind of entrepreneurialism.
Have the past three decades essen-
tially unfolded how you envisioned?
What have been the biggest surprises
during Cannella Response’s near 25
years in business?
CANNELLA: I don’t know if I had a vision.
My career had just started. I’d only been in
the business for three years in 1982. It’s
been pretty neat. I started on my own in
1985, and Rob came along in 1994. I told
him then that I like my independence, and
that we ran lean, almost like a consul-
tancy. I said, “The day we hit 10 employ-
ees, your name better be on the door.”
Now, the company’s grown up to about 40
employees. Every day, I am thankful for
what’s come about, how we’ve taken the
opportunity and keep building on it. Rob
is a great partner.
ROB MEDVED: When I first started,
computers were just coming along. Then,
we received our counts on rolls of fax
paper. Before that, we got them on telex
machines. So with the advent of the
Internet, we grew up with it. Using it as
a marketing outlet? That wasn’t even a
seed in our head. Even the TV landscape
then was just a fraction of the numerous
fragmented channels of today. Cable was
in its infancy, and they were giving away
contracts to locals. Now, you have the
telcos, MSOs, cable, satellite — more
than 1,000 broadcast stations and affili-
ates, hundreds of cable networks. The
expansion has been stunning.
What do you consider the most suc-
cessful campaign you’ve worked on
CANNELLA: In 1996, when we started
doing Banjo Minnow, which was a suc-
cessful campaign in its own right, that
transformed us from a media broker/
consultancy into a DRTV media agency.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12 >
Banjo Minnow’s success had a unique
attachment to how the agency stepped
forward. It prepared us for the huge hit
Tae Bo. We handled all the Tae Bo campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Innovative marketing through
direct response television.
ATOMIC DIRECT creative production management strategy 503.296.6131 Portland, Oregon www.atomicdirect.com