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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports May 2017

1 May, 2017 By: Thomas Haire, Doug McPherson Response

Redesigned Expo Hall, Classic Networking Events Power 11th Response Expo

For the 11th consecutive year, performance-based marketing leaders descended on San Diego to take part in Response Expo. The event, held April 25-27 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, once again welcomed attendees with a full slate of networking events and a vast array of meeting locations throughout the waterfront resort.

From a reconfigured and energized Expo Hall Floor to the Odysea Bar on the Hilton’s lobby level and outside to harbor-facing and poolside cabanas, opportunities to connect with new contacts and catch up with old friends were everywhere for Response Expo’s 2,700 registered attendees.

“Response Expo delivered again for us,” said James Vanek, director of business development for Nielsen Sigma, an exhibitor and research partner of Response. “A great atmosphere on the show floor made it easy to connect with current clients, prospects, and friends from the industry.”

While the Expo Hall Floor again featured dozens of the leading vendors in the performance-based marketing space, an expanded Central Pub — a networking location for attendees to meet and mingle — drew more positive feedback in its third year. Additionally, the Expo team moved the Beer & Wine Garden — which had resided on an outdoor terrace in past years — into the Expo Hall, added a third educational session room, and offered lunch to All-Access badge holders from a group of “Food Trucks” positioned near the rear of the hall.

“The changes in the Expo Hall were simply awesome,” said Brent Peterson, senior vice president of DRMetrix, an exhibitor and research partner of Response. “It really bought everything to the show floor and there were far fewer people meeting outside the ballroom.”

Lindsey Carnett, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Marketing Maven, added, “It was a great idea to put the classrooms, beer garden, coffee area, and food trucks on the show floor to attract more traffic.”

And Ava Seavey, queen bee of New York-based Avalanche Creative Services, said, “The visibility factor at Response Expo is huge, as it is a nicely contained environment,” says. “It allows for complete communication and not half-baked micro meetings.”

Response Expo’s predictably powerful calendar of networking events kept client meetings and conversations humming. With five cocktail receptions, the 10th Annual Golf Tournament, and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Expo attendees were presented with one opportunity after another to meet and create new relationships and business opportunities.

On Monday night, April 24, the Kick-off Party — sponsored once again by Lockard & Wechsler Direct — welcomed early arrivers to a new location: The Nolen, a swanky rooftop cocktail lounge in San Diego’s bustling Gaslamp District. While cocktails were plentiful, the party didn’t dissuade nearly 100 golfers from an early wake-up call for the next morning’s golf tournament at San Diego’s Riverwalk Golf Club. Once again, those golfers were in a giving mood, supporting the Expo’s cause of choice: Someone Cares, a San Diego-based charity that provides support for the homeless. By the end of the show, Expo attendees had donated more than $2,000 to the cause.

Following the Keynote Address by Sugar Ray Leonard on April 25, All-Access badge holders enjoyed the Opening Night Party, sponsored by Extreme Reach, at the Hilton. On April 26, attendees enjoyed specialty cocktails and the company of their favorite attorneys at the Venable Mixer, which took place in the Odysea Bar, the Hilton’s main cocktail lounge. Later in the evening, All-Access badge holders took part in the annual Bayfront Celebration, sponsored by Icon Media Direct, which featured a mechanical bull and other western-themed tinges that led up to another stunning San Diego sunset.

Expo attendees capped off the three-day event with a special evening at San Diego’s Belmont Park — a throwback of a seaside amusement park centered on the Giant Dipper, a 1920s era wooden roller coaster. Attendees of the event, sponsored by DRMetrix, enjoyed carnival rides, arcade games, a zip line, rock wall climbing, and more.

Leonard Scores a Knockout; Expo Speakers Power Pack 15 Rounds of Sessions

“Do the road work,” said Olympic and six-time professional boxing world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, repeatedly, from the stage of the Sapphire Ballroom at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on April 25 during his keynote address (presented by Havas Edge) to nearly 600 attendees of Response Expo 2017.

Hard work, dedication, and belief in self-were among Leonard’s recurring themes during his 45-minute presentation entitled “POWER — Prepare, Overcome, and Win Every Round.” Leonard masterfully wove in videos of some of the most famous bouts of his career — against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran — letting attendees visualize his message. Older attendees were likely transported back in time to those great championship fight memories, while younger attendees got a taste of Leonard, the boxer, at his finest.

“It was such a great night with Sugar Ray” said Abed Abusaleh, executive vice president, long-form media at the keynote’s sponsor company, Havas Edge. “His keynote was the perfect combination of motivation and entertainment. We’re proud to have sponsored the address, and feel that he showed how determination and motivation can conquer all obstacles that we are faced with in our daily lives.”

Response Expo’s educational sessions drew nearly 1,000 attendees across an event-record 15 sessions on April 26-27. Leading marketers led a series of panel conversations centered on the Expo’s theme — “The Consumer Journey” — as well as other topics, such as the expansion of digital video, paid social media, and how e-commerce giants like Amazon are changing the marketing world.

“Speaking at Response Expo was a phenomenal way to connect with the industry titans of direct response while at the same time helping them learn about the latest techniques digital marketers are using to achieve explosive growth,” said Andrew Lermsider, CMO and partner at Q Link Wireless, who was a speaker on the “Social Media as a Media Outlet” panel on April 27. “I enjoyed the time I spent after the session talking one-on-one with attendees to answer questions and dig deeper into the methods revealed.”

Louis Monoyudis, chief operating officer of Outer Places, which offers the Supply Pod subscription box product, was part of the “Consumer Journey — Engagement” session on April 26. “I enjoyed getting to meet the other panelists and fielding questions from the audience. So many of us are tackling the same issues, and it is refreshing to be among peers discussing strategies and sharing stories from the trenches,” he said.

Scott Berger, general manager, direct response and paid programming for Dish Media Sales, took part in the “Better Measuring ROI” session on April 25. He added, “The content and event format allows us a forum to discuss innovative solutions and learnings with the marketplace.”

Among leaders taking the stage at Response Expo for the first time were Dr. Asim Akhtar of Kyoku Corp., Igor Credali of Kiko USA, Amy d’Oliveira of Prudential, Julien Dudouit of eBay, Meredith Mallon of zulily, Sylvester Phifer of ESPN, Steve Schwartz of MetLife, Brad Sockloff of Nutrisystem, Peter Tardif of Vistaprint, and Julie Vargo of Boingo Wireless.

Monoyudis added, “I spent the event bouncing from session to session, and I found the programming excellent. Most refreshing is that the discussion points are equally relevant for DR as well as general customer acquisition concerns — regardless of channel.”

For the fifth consecutive year, a panel of the inductees to the Direct Response Hall of Fame highlighted Thursday’s educational bill. Prior to the induction ceremony on the Expo Hall Floor, Michelle Cardinal, Jonathan Congdon, Nancy Lazkani, Tim O’Leary, and Rob Woodrooffe (five of the seven 2017 inductees) spoke about the past, present, and future of the business. A standing-room-only crowd then saluted the group as all seven inductees — including Carl Daikeler and Lenny Sands — were welcomed to the Hall of Fame.

“We are very grateful and proud to have been included in the Hall of Fame lineup this year,” Cardinal, co-founder of Portland, Ore.-based R2C Group, said. “It was extra special to share the stage with a great group of colleagues and friends.”

Inaugural AdSphere Awards Recognize Top DRTV Campaigns of 2016

DRMetrix,a research company for the DRTV industry and a research partner of Response, bestowed the inaugural AdSphere™ Awards during Response Expo on April 26. The awards honor the most effective direct response television advertisements airing on national cable networks in 2016.

DRMetrix created the awards to honor the top network cable advertisers and brands in the industry. The AdSphere Awards are the first awards program to include the entire DRTV industry, with advertisers such as Nutrisystem, Liberty Mutual, Dollar Shave Club, and many others among the honorees.

In addition to the “Best of Category” awards, the following top seven advertisers of 2016 received an AdSphere Award:

  • Advertiser & Brand of the Year, All Short-Form: Liberty Mutual
  • Advertiser & Brand of the Year, Lead Generation: Nutrisystem
  • Advertiser & Brand of the Year, Short-Form Products: Ideavillage Products
  • Advertiser & Brand of the Year, Long-Form: Cize by Beachbody
  • Advertiser & Brand of the Year, Short-Form Retail Products: Pillow With a Heart by My Pillow
  • Brand of the Year, Long-Form Retail Products: Total Gym
  • Brand of the Year, Short-Form Products: Proactiv Solution

DRMetrix monitored 92 national cable networks during 2016, identifying more than 3,500 DRTV brands to be considered for awards. The awards recognize top brands across 20 major categories and 145 sub-categories. The complete list of AdSphere Award winners for 2017 is online at:

Gray also recognized his late friend, former Response Advisory Board member, and former president of King World Direct Jake Weisbarth, with an AdSphere Award for his work in inspiring what eventually became DRMetrix. Weisbarth’s family accepted the award.


About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

About the Author: Doug McPherson

Thomas Haire

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