Response Magazine Site Response Expo Site Direct Response Market Alliance Site Job Board


   Log in

Media Zone: Brand and Direct: Bridging the Gap During Tough Economic Times

1 Jun, 2009 By: Len Zappolo Response

Notice that this article's headline does not say "vs." — as is often the case — but rather "and." The reason is simple: companies and agencies alike should no longer view the two as separate entities, but rather as a joint effort to withstand challenging times.

 Len Zappolo
Len Zappolo

With an ever-increasing shift and focus on return on investment (ROI), companies must be willing to step out of the box and deploy methods they traditionally have not used. Companies cannot afford to do the same old thing. Thinking needs to be innovative throughout — from strategy to creative to media alike.

Brand and direct are very different disciplines that require very different tactics and approaches. Some differences between the two include:


These very differences can help make campaigns more successful for longer periods of time — especially now, when times are financially tough, competition is at an all-time high, the media landscape is continuously changing, and the number of media outlets is growing.

But how can your product stand out, break through, instill memorability and cause consumers to take action at a time when so many messages are bombarding consumers each day, competition is ramped, and consumers are not as willing to spend?

The answer: utilize your budget to effectively drive performance by using creative and media in a way that capitalizes on strengths, targeting and measurability to deliver the brand messaging you want with the desired results. By utilizing more measurable media in the mix, you improve your campaign's chances for success.

In a February Wall Street Journal interview, Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners, stated that he advises clients to maintain or increase marketing spending in order to maintain or increase market share. And in the current economic environment, he added, the trend is toward greater growth in digital and DR, which are more targetable, measurable and cost-effective than branding.

Focusing specifically on DRTV, how do we use brand and direct elements to create a hybrid? We know that the following are the primary functions of DRTV:

  • 1. Purchase spots on a remnant basis, subject to pre-emption
  • 2. Focus on secondary dayparts with less emphasis on brand-friendly dayparts
  • 3. Use longer units (60, 90 and 120 seconds) to promote product benefits and the call-to-action
  • 4. Deliver lead volume at the lowest cost-per-lead (CPL)


But adding brand elements to the DRTV mix results in a hybrid of the two functions:

  • 1. Purchase both fixed and pre-emptable spots
  • 2. Focus on both primary and secondary dayparts that are also brand-friendly
  • 3. Combine longer with shorter spots (30 seconds) with less messaging and a simpler call-to-action
  • 4. Promote the brand while delivering increased lead volume at average, acceptable CPLs


This hybrid is designed to deliver both responses and sufficient rating points to increase and leverage brand awareness in simultaneous media efforts.

Consider other media forms as well. In a brand+direct effort for an auto insurance client, for example, my agency employed 60-second radio spots that were softer than traditional direct response spots, but had a call-to-action and aired during drive times. Additionally, 30-sheet posters and bulletins — traditional brand mediums — were used, but with a call-to-action.

Using the right media in conjunction with another can have positive implications for your target audience, your brand and, ultimately, your results.

Len Zappolo is executive director, media services, at DMW Worldwide LLC, a full-service DR advertising agency. He can be reached at (610) 407-0407 or via E-mail at

Add Comment

©2017 Questex, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Please send any technical comments or questions to our webmaster. Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Security Seals