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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports June 2016

1 Jun, 2016 By: Doug McPherson, Thomas Haire Response

DR Hall of Famer Philip Kives Passes Away at 87

By Thomas Haire (

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada — Philip Kives, a 2015 Direct Response Hall of Fame inductee, passed away on April 27. The businessman founded K-Tel, which not only marketed its line of music collections but also household items such as the Veg-o-matic and the Miracle Brush. He was 87.

Born on a small country farm near the town of Oungre, Saskatchewan, Canada — population less than 200 — in 1929 as the third of four children, Kives moved to Winnipeg in 1957. There, he had various jobs before he tried his luck selling cookware, sewing machines, and vacuum cleaners door-to-door.

In 1961, he and his brother Ted began pitching and selling products on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. In spring 1962, Kives returned to Winnipeg and made a live, five-minute TV commercial for a Teflon non-stick fry pan. Sales took off at a remarkable pace, and he went on to market many other consumer products and — most memorably — music albums via television with great success.

In the late sixties, Kives started K-Tel. The company’s biggest selling product was the Miracle Brush, which sold 28 million units. The company’s biggest music seller is “Hooked on Classics,” which has sold more than 10 million copies — and is still selling today.

“The commercials were blunt, grainy, and loud, much louder than the old movies they interrupted,” the New York Times wrote in 1979. “In fact, they gave advertising the phrase ‘to K-Tel’ a product.”

By the early 1980s, K-Tel had sold more than 500 million albums worldwide. Kives was inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) Hall of Fame in 2002.

Kives’ daughter Samantha told the Winnipeg Free Press that her father always balanced his successful professional career with family life. “He would literally leave in the middle of a business meeting to come watch us play in a tennis tournament,” told the newspaper. “The commercials were also a family affair. A lot of the commercials he shot, he’d bring us kids in … and we’d be actors in the commercials.”

Kives is survived by his wife of 45 years, Ellie; two daughters, Samantha and Kelly; a son, Daniel; a brother, George; and three grandchildren.

Advisors’ Corner

Fantasies, Sports Leagues, and Roses

By Bill McAlister

Draft Kings and Fan Duel rocked DRTV by bidding up and buying up media last fall. Thankfully, that has died down — but people are still fantasy gambling … and Pete Rose still is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and nearly every team in the National Football League (NFL) have signed sponsorship deals with either ­DraftKings or FanDuel. MLB’s bond with ­DraftKings is even ­cozier: DraftKings is MLB’s “official daily fantasy game,” and baseball purchased a stake in DraftKings in 2013. It increased its investment in 2015. MLB, no doubt, owns a betting parlor.

I don’t really care one way or the other about what the other leagues do, but MLB needs to get its act together and end the hypocrisy. Sure, support sports betting, but keep Rose — “­Charlie Hustle” himself — out of the Hall of Fame? Are you kidding me?

Rose is the all-time leader in hits (4,256), games played (3,562), at-bats (14,053), and singles (3,215). He won three World Series rings, two Gold Gloves, the 1963 Rookie of the Year award, the 1973 National League MVP award, and made 17 All-Star appearances in which he appeared at a record-setting five different positions.

Yes sir, Rose gambled on baseball, but not on his own team. How many professional athletes have done far worse things that have more directly affected their on-field performance, but have been given the option to go to rehab and be cleansed of their sins?

Let’s have more celebration of the competitive spirit of America — like Pete Rose and our TV product inventors — and hear less from large, hypocritical, bureaucratic organizations like MLB.

Bill McAlister is president of Top Dog Direct in Trevose, Pa., and a member of the Response Advisory Board.

Study: Consumers Hate Ads but Love Free Content

By Doug McPherson

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s the tale of two studies: a Harris Poll commissioned by Lithium Technologies says 74 percent of millennials and Generation Z dislike ads on social media. Among the 2,500 survey respondents, 56 percent say they spend less time on social media because of ads.

Another study, commissioned by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) and conducted by Zogby Analytics, says 85 percent of respondents said they like an ad-supported internet model instead of paying for content online. And another 80 percent said they had found ads useful in finding new products, researching a purchase, or assisting with the shopping process.

The types of advertising that consumers found most useful were movies/TV shows (43 percent), technology/devices (37 percent), clothing (36 percent), local restaurants (34 percent), groceries (33 percent), phone/internet services (32 percent), and travel (30 percent).

Plus, most in the DAA study said they’d reduce their online and mobile activities a great deal (75 percent) or somewhat (11 percent) if they had to pay $100 per month for the type of ad-supported content and services they currently use for free.

As for the types of content the DAA respondents found important, 90 percent said free internet content like news, weather, e-mail, and blogs were either very important (73 percent) or somewhat important (17 percent) to them.

In the Lithium study, 85 percent of the two demographic groups turn to Amazon and Yelp for information on products, followed by company websites at 66 percent, forums at 65 percent, those they follow online and via social networks (57 percent and 53 percent respectively), and celebrity endorsements at 40 percent.

Of course the study sponsor, Lithium Technologies, sells software that helps brands build and engage customers to drive sales. The company’s CEO, Rob Tarkoff, has said advertising on social media “is the surest way for brands to alienate consumers, especially the younger generations who make up more than 50 percent of the population. The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.” 

In Memoriam: Erica Meloni, 40, of DR Marketer Top Dog Direct

By Thomas Haire (

TREVOSE, Pa. — Erica Meloni, director of new products at DR industry marketer Top Dog Direct and a 14-year veteran of the company, passed away on May 24 due to complications from breast cancer. She was 40.

“Erica was our beam of light — she made me laugh every day and was an invaluable part of my company,” says Bill McAlister, president of Top Dog Direct and a member of the Response Advisory Board. “I loved her, and I will miss her more than anyone can possibly imagine. She cannot be replaced.”

An obituary that ran in the Bucks County Courier Times last week read, in part, “Erica’s impact on all who had the pleasure to know her will long survive with her memory. Her footprint on this world was unmistakable … Erica both gave and received an enormous amount of support from her cancer survivor group, Bucks County Breast Friends.”

Meloni was born and raised in Bristol, Pa., before attending and graduating from West Virginia University. She married Nick Meloni in 2006 and gave birth to their daughter Lily in 2008. The family has resided in Yardley, Pa., since 2011.

In addition to Nick and Lily, she is survived by: her parents Cynthia and Al Mancuso; brother Joseph Mancuso; grandmother Lily Caucci; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the education fund for Lily Meloni, c/o Bank of America, 503 S. Oxford Valley Road, Fairless Hills, PA 19033.

About the Author: Doug McPherson

About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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