Solving the Brand + DRTV Equation
Creating a streamlined campaign that integrates both image
and DRTV commercials isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.
Mixing traditional advertising agencies with DRTV specialists can be a lot like pouring oil into water. While the two substances can exist in the same container without much problem, they never truly combine
into one homogeneous mixture. And while there’s no
question of DRTV’s value in a brand’s overall marketing strategy, traditional agencies still tend to view the
medium — and the tactics used by producers and media
buyers within the space — with a dose of skepticism.
I guess it stands to reason, seeing that the first crop
of infomercials and DRTV spots weren’t exactly brand-worthy. Boisterous pitchmen hawked their wares while
toll-free numbers flashed across the television screen,
and overly anxious testimonials backed up products that
claimed to solve the world’s problems. Production values
trailed far behind those of traditional commercials, with
most DRTV relegated to after-midnight time slots.
Fast-forward to 2011, and the direct response
landscape is much different. A combination of self-regulation, government oversight and the realization
that diminishing numbers of people would buy junk
from grainy, yell-and-sell commercials at 2 a.m. pushed
DRTV to new limits. Attracted to the medium for its
accountability, measurability and ability to connect directly with consumers, the brands plowed their way into
DRTV, thus lending it even more credibility.
But even the new face of DRTV hasn’t managed to
convince all brand managers of the medium’s influence
and viability. Many of them still tune out when they’re
presented with the potential advantages of infomercials,
and it’s somewhat understandable. Frankly, in most cases
it would be foolish to elimi-
nate image commercials from
a media mix and replace them
with a DRTV-only campaign.
Enter the oil-and-water
equation. Time and time
again, we’ve seen that, despite
the pushback from traditional
advertising agencies, image
spots and DRTV work together beautifully. One supports
the other. Where the shorter formats massage the consumer’s mind with positive associations, personality and
feelings about a product or service, DRTV commercials
lead viewers to the next stage.
DRTV picks up where branding leaves off by persuading consumers to take action by picking up the
phone, visiting a Web site or catching a closer look
during their next trip to the mall. A long-form DRTV
program allows enough time to fully educate and excite
an interested audience about a product, thanks to the 30
minutes a marketer has to take the viewer step-by-step
through the persuasion process.
And of course there’s the added benefit of DRTV
creating brands, not just promoting existing brands. Famous
brands like Proactiv Solution, Magic Jack, OxiClean,
OrangeGlo, the George Foreman Grill, Beachbody,
Snuggie, bareMinerals and Euro-Pro were birthed by
DRTV and live on in retail — launched into mega
brands at a fraction of the usual $150 million to $200
million to create a standard brand.
Such successes have driven more than one general
advertising agency into the DRTV arena. After all,
they thought to themselves, how hard could it be? The
problem is that these agencies aren’t equipped to handle direct response. DR agencies have years of proven
response-generating techniques that traditional agencies
are unfamiliar with. Those of us who specialize in this
category understand the delicate touch points in the
human psyche that can stimulate an immediate response
— absolutely essential for creating self-sustaining marketing campaigns.
General agencies are catching onto these nuances,
and either referring their clients’ DRTV work to specialists, or hiring those experts to handle that particular aspect of a client’s campaign. We’ve worked quite successfully with a dozen major agencies over the past 17 years.
The relationships aren’t always easy to manage, and
their success or failure often depends on whether the
traditional agency staff can check their egos at the door
and allow direct response experts to do their jobs. When
that happens, everyone wins, especially the client. ■