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Riding a Straight Edge of Success

10 Dec, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Razor & Tie’s Cliff Chenfeld and Craig Balsam have built a major entertainment company by capitalizing on the power of direct response.

The company’s first DRTV spots, back in the days of Those Fabulous ’70s, were mostly yell-and-sell format, with an 800 number flashing on the screen. The goal was to get the infomercials up, relatively inexpensively. But now, the R&T team is seen by many in both entertainment and DR as cutting edge, as it was at the forefront of the move of many companies to incorporate more direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing.

“What was once old school is now very useful,” says Chenfeld. “We have a sense of what response is, that a certain number of gross rating points and impressions are needed, etc. As companies scrutinize budgets more seriously, and insist on tracking the returns, we’re in a really good place.”

Balsam, Chenfeld’s friend and cofounder, agrees that DR has helped push R&T to the forefront of entertainment marketing. “By using direct response, we can use relatively inexpensive advertising to generate immediate feedback from consumers and gauge their reactions to an offer or product and then adjust the offer if necessary. We collect valuable customer information, take in substantial direct revenue from the campaign that can subsidize some or all of the advertising, and create demand across all sales outlets including traditional retail, online, nontraditional and digital.”

Though in the 1990s, the team was new to DR, they quickly learned the industry and were able to take what they learned from the music releases and launch into video production about eight years later. Using the same basic principles of DR, R&T launched videos on television that would eventually move to retail. In 2001, the first video, Darren’s Dance Grooves, hit television screens. R&T did all of the filming for the dance moves — instruction on how to dance like pop stars such as Britney Spears and ‘N Sync. The DVD sold hundreds of thousands through DRTV and went on to sell almost 1 million copies in stores.

“Again, we used the same principles. Put it on TV, see the reaction and roll it into a multi-platform campaign,” says Chenfeld.

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