European Flavor1 Jun, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response
With the Internet and technology in general continuing to chip away at traditional geographic boundaries, an increasing number of American DRTV marketers are spreading their wings and flying "across the pond" to get a taste of some of the success that companies like Thane, Guthy-Renker, ThermoSpas and Time-Life have already achieved in the region.
Think Global, Act Local
By Digby Orsmond
Doing business in the European Union (EU) isn't that much different than operating in the United States, but there are some key elements that should be factored into every DRTV campaign. For starters, there are payment methods to consider, since credit card usage in Europe varies significantly from country to country. In Britain, for example, "plastic money" is the norm with around 90 percent of orders being paid for by credit card, while in France the figure drops to 50 percent. In Germany — the largest European economy — just 10 percent of buyers choose to use plastic, and instead opt for COD in most cases.
Telemarketing is also different. Taking inbound calls requires very careful country-by-country planning as Europe does not have a national 1-800 service — every country requires its own unique telephone number. At present, there is no single pan-European telecom operator covering all EU member countries. This makes the call-to-action end tags on many pan-European DRTV ads very complex — some spots carry as many as 15 completely different telephone numbers next to the flags of each country.
Call-to-action end tags on pan-European DRTV ads are very complex. U.S. marketers need to factor in that every country requires a unique phone number.
While these hurdles continue to make pan-European short-form DRTV a challenge, let's not forget the more than 500 million viewers waiting to be prompted into buying products off their TV screens. Add to this equation the emerging countries that have so enthusiastically embraced American popular culture — Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia — and it is easy to see why marketers need to think global, but act local.
On the media side, there aren't many American companies using DRTV across Europe, but we are seeing an increase in the number of inquiries from U.S. companies that are selling products as diverse as hot tubs, cosmetics and health-and-fitness items, and that want to expand to this side of the pond.
To these companies, I offer the following warning: pan-European advertising can be a nightmare scenario of incompatible regulations, consumer legislation and different payment methods. Many highly successful U.S. dietary and weight-loss DRTV products have attempted to launch in the U.K., but were thwarted by the fact that there is a blanket ban by the Clearcast (formerly known as the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Center or BACC) on these product types. No matter how much research is provided to Clearcast, it simply won't reverse its decision.
As a result of the ban, all spots and infomercials must be submitted to Clearcast, which can reject them for broadcast in the U.K. Because of this, the U.K. consumer has been unable to buy some of America's successful products since the infomercials filmed in the U.S. often make too many sales claims that are difficult to substantiate owing to stricter Clearcast regulations.
Overall, the substantial growth of new satellite and cable TV channels in the U.K. has resulted in greater fragmentation. This presents a challenge for brand advertisers, but is positive for direct response advertisers that are willing to successfully test a wide range of proven DRTV products.
Despite these challenges, launching in the U.K. still has many advantages. It offers Europe's widest choice of TV channels, TV audiences that welcome American products and the immediate benefits of being able to work in a common language. That is why experienced U.S. DR companies such as Thane, Guthy-Renker, ThermoSpas and Time-Life continue to be the major Pan-European players.