interact with the TV and the rapid rise
of the Internet. I remember when DRTV
marketers were concerned that providing a URL and an 800 number might
decrease orders by turning an impulse buy
into a shopping buy. Now the Internet
makes or breaks some campaigns.
FIRM. In the past several years, kudos
to P90X and the guys from Beachbody
for having the right people power and
modeling to take their infomercial to the
top year after year. Ron Popeil’s Rotisserie
— and the immortal words “Set It and
Forget It” — was the perfect combination
of problem solution with an unforgettable
tag line. Talk about machines: We have
the Thigh Master (admit it, everyone has
one in their parents’ garage) and Tony
Little’s Gazelle (I am still amazed I didn’t
fall off the first time I tried the machine).
The Power Juicer by Jack LaLanne —
how long has this been on TV?
talent, the product demos and testimonials are great, the offer and call-to-action
are very effective and their retail distribution rounds the success story for them.
What is the most successful
campaign of the infomercial
industry’s first 25 years and
Fays: Carleton Sheets and Tae Bo — in
their own unique ways. Carleton Sheets
set the tone for success early on, which
others replicated in the following years.
Tae Bo took the entire country by
storm and, frankly, we have not
seen another show as successful as
it since … and possibly never will.
Stacey: Success really depends on what
metrics you’re measuring, such as generating awareness, driving retail or just
creating absolute sales volume. Proactiv
Solution may be near the top of that list
across a variety of measures. It’s created
a brand and built tremendous awareness.
It’s driven multiple channels of distribution, including print, kiosks, catalog and
even vending machines. It’s sold billions
of dollars worth of product, and most importantly, it’s built a real business with a
billion-dollar equity value.
Garnett: Success is defined by
your needs and the challenges
you overcome. Quite often, the
smaller and lesser-known campaigns have had to overcome
the biggest challenges. White’s
Electronics has used DRTV to
drive its business, and they’ve
achieved superb success. So you
can’t claim a kitsch campaign like
the Snuggie is “more successful” than a
DRTV campaign that has spent more
than a decade driving sales for $1,000
metal detectors. That said, one of my favorite top-selling successes is the Victoria
Principal skincare line. Its longevity came
from carefully managing Victoria’s brand
and avoiding the tendency of DRTV
producers to dash from idea to idea in the
infomercials that follow a first success.
What is your “big prediction”
for the DRTV business in the
Fays: I only see more success in the future
for DR provided everyone reading this
article devotes as much time, energy and
passion as needed to compete in a very
competitive advertising world.
The right people power and modeling
has taken Beachbody’s infomercial for
P90X to the top, year after year, Fern
Lee of Thor Associates says.
Hawthorne: Proactiv Solution, without a
doubt. The perfect DRTV product: beauty (ego appeal) category; solves a massive
common problem; amazing “magical
transformations” visual; affordable; and
addictive. Will there ever be a better
DRTV campaign? Only when someone
invents a real magic pill for losing weight.
Lyons: Clearly, Proactiv Solution. This
product was a game changer and has
grown into an incredibly successful business for Guthy-Renker. This product,
with its excellent use of celebrity talent,
dashed the stigma associate with acne.
This led to unparalleled success, and it all
began with the infomercial. It has since
grown into many levels of distribution
and leads its category.
Lee: I would be remiss not to mention
Billy Blanks, Richard Simmons and The
Medico: This is very hard to answer because of the different channels of distribution available today vs. 25 years ago.
Today, retail and online is far more significant to the success of an infomercial
campaign. That being said, Proactiv Solution has the most effective use of celebrity
Garnett: How about two? First, DRTV will
take the place it should hold at the table
for brand advertisers — as one of the
critical and powerful media used to drive
demand and create big brand change.
(Along with this, I think traditional
DRTV media buyers will take an honest
look at the extravagant prices paid by
some of their colleagues for intellectual
property shows and stop blaming brands
for high media prices.) Second, DRTV
will evolve as the Internet and television
learn to live more intimately together.
This evolution will bring the opportunity
to make shows more persuasive by overlaying information that is better delivered
in print or graphics. When used correctly,
it will increase the profitability of our
Hawthorne: The seeds of DRTV advertising that we have planted will blossom
over next quarter century. DRTV will become known simply as “DRV” — direct
response video. And wherever/however