Bridging the Gap1 Sep, 2009 By: Bridget McCrea Response
Bridging the Gap
From his vantage point as vice president of direct response for Carat in Chicago, Mark Hodor gets a clear view of the firm's general advertisers and DRTV clients. Recently, he's seen an uptick in the number of brand advertisers who migrate internally to Carat's DR offerings. The economy has something to do with it, says Hodor, although most clients realize that the benefits of using DRTV go beyond simple financial efficiencies.
"A lot of clients are kind of excited about DR just from the cost efficiencies right off the bat, and then once we start getting into it, they can see the additional benefits that the medium provides," says Hodor. "When we start talking about tracking, Web response and retail lift, they get even more interested."
When working with general agency clients to develop DR campaigns, Hodor says his team incorporates traditional brand "needs" or restrictions into the mix, including all guidelines, hit lists and programming requirements. Not all of those initial considerations jibe well with the DR aspect of the campaign. "We have to be upfront with them and let them know that certain situations — depending on those initial restrictions — may result in the marketer having to pay a slightly higher rate," Hodor contends.
Those higher rates often come into play with daytime programming, and at other times of the day or night when a brand marketer wouldn't necessarily want its commercial aired. "While some timeslots might be good for response, we obviously still have to protect the brand," says Hodor. "Those challenges aside, 99 percent of the time we have no issues when working with general agency clients."
Blurring the Lines
Marty Gross is another advertising executive who can speak from both sides of the issue. The executive vice president at Euro RSCG Edge in Carlsbad, Calif., says, right now, both general agencies and DR shops are in a transition period that's largely being driven by the client. "The customers are demanding everything," says Gross. "They want it all — price, audience, target sales, data, accountability, you name it."
And while DRTV has proven to be an effective standalone medium when accompanied by ancillary elements, such as the Web and retail, the age-old philosophy that brand equity comes first still prevails when general agencies and DR agencies work in tandem.
"At all points in the process, you have to be considerate of what the brand needs in terms of exposure and the programming you are putting into it," says Gross. "As long as you are using a filter that's sensitive to what the marketer is looking for in terms of that brand, it's fairly easy to make decisions that are appropriate for both."
The blending of general agencies and DR agencies can get onerous when the latter doesn't take into consideration that a brand isn't a logo, but a promise to a consumer. Because there are more "brand loyal" consumers than comparison shoppers, says Karlin, a strong brand can make or break a company. And a poorly constructed and orchestrated campaign can chip away at valuable brand equity, which no company can afford to lose in today's challenging business environment.