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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports - November 2012

1 Nov, 2012 By: Doug McPherson, Thomas Haire Response

Marketer of the YearDRMA Marketer of the Year Spotlight

TMGTV Just Says ‘Ahh!’

By Thomas Haire (

In its October 2012 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Fourth Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In this issue, we begin spotlighting the other top nominees in a monthly section. This month, we caught up with Mark Goodale, vice president and general manager of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada-based Torstar Media Group Television (TMGTV).

In the past year, TMGTV established a brand new DRTV category, as its Ahh Bra experienced unparalleled growth and the company’s international partnerships made Ahh Bra easy to successfully transition internationally. Ahh Bra was not only a huge success in North America but became a universal success across global markets. DRTV in North America coupled with a strong retail presence in both countries and TMGTV’s online marketing strategies have built Ahh Bra into a brand that is now recognized around the world in direct-to-consumer, online and with major global retailers.

Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?

A: It is an honor to be considered for this award and to be recognized with some of the top companies in the industry. The nomination is positive affirmation that our strategy is effective.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A: Our company focused on diversification of product lines and establishing retail relationships.

Q: How did the successful products you had over the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changed the way you do business? If so, how?

A: As a media company, it is critical to have a thoughtful media testing and rollout strategy. Our company’s knowledge and resources have significantly aided our success rate. Our success in live shopping and infomercials is changing our view for retail rollout.

Q: Why do you think your business responded well in an extended sluggish economy?

A: Our diversified approach has served us well in this economy. We utilize infomercials, live shopping, Web and retail shopping — both domestically and in many countries around the world — to market products in a variety of categories to consumers. We have our own operations in Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and that diversification has helped us grow significantly.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?

A: We are very optimistic about the upcoming year. We will continue to source and develop new products in a variety of product categories. The top items in our pipeline are in multiple categories: cleaning, household goods and apparel.

Q: How has technology changed the way your company does business in the past 12 months? How will it in the next 12 months?

A: In the past year, we continued to expand our knowledge of the use of the Web as a separate and distinct tool for marketing to consumers. In the next 12 months, we will further develop our strategy for utilizing social media and mobile in our marketing plan. Technology has significantly improved our campaign management through more sophisticated analysis tools and through better call routing tools.

Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2012? Why?

A: The vertical markets that are best equipped to survive in 2013 are beauty, health-and-fitness, and household-and-kitchen.

Truth-In-Advertising Dot-Com Guidelines Could Hit By Year End

By Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced marketers can expect an update to the “Dot-com Disclosure” guides by the end of the year. Mary Engle, FTC associate director, says the new guidelines will advise marketers how to convey key information to consumers — including the terms and conditions of offers — on mobile devices and social media platforms.

The FTC sought input on revisions to the Dot-com Disclosures between May 2011 and July 2012. The current guides, created in 2000, state that advertising rules requiring disclosure of material information apply to online ads, as well as ads in traditional media. But the examples are clearly outdated. For example, the old guides said that if companies placed disclosures at the bottom of a page, the design should encourage consumers to scroll down.

According to Engle, a workshop on the topic this summer found:

  • Context matters. It is not possible to devise a universal rule for disclosures, but the FTC will try to eke out as many black-and-white areas as it can from among the shades of gray.
  • Media platforms must adapt to the law and not vice versa. If it is not possible to run a compliant ad on a particular platform, then the ad simply should not run on that platform.
  • Using hyperlinks for disclosures may be acceptable in some circumstances, but the label of the link itself needs to be attention getting and accurately descriptive. For example, “Disclosures,” “Details,” or “More Information” generally will not suffice as a link title.
  • The timing of disclosures — i.e., placement of a hyperlink on the page, proximity to the claim being clarified, placement in relation to the flow of purchase – is important to consumer attention and comprehension.
  • Icons (for privacy disclosures in particular) or hashtags (for Twitter) may be useful, but they depend on consumer understanding. The lingering question is, “Who should be responsible for educating consumers?”
  • The solution for some digital media may be to revise claims so that no disclosure is necessary.

The new guides are expected to recommend how to convey the key information on 4-inch smartphone screens, or platforms like Twitter where marketers are limited to 140 characters.

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill says the key issue isn’t just what marketers say, but how they say it. “Context is really critical,” Brill adds. “It is just as important to consider when consumers are provided with critical information, and the context in which they are provided the information, as it is to consider what they are told.”

Peter Koeppel, owner of Koeppel Direct, a multi-channel DR firm in Dallas (and a member of the Response Advisory Board), says as consumers migrate to consuming more and more information, media and advertising through their smartphones and tablets and as marketers are trying to influence consumers through these mediums, “It’s timely to have guidelines in place to address these changes. I think everyone benefits when there are more specific rules in place, but those rules also need to be balanced so they provide a platform for the consumer to be properly informed about an offer, while at the same time not severely limiting a marketer’s creativity.”

Tim Hawthorne, founder of Hawthorne Direct (and a member of the Response Advisory Board) says 12 years to update online media rules is “a century in ad years.” He adds, “Smartphones and tablets weren’t even a gleam in Steve Jobs’ eye back then. Updating these regulations will be a shock to many, but welcomed by consumers.”

DMA Announces Data-Driven Marketing Institute

By Doug McPherson<

LAS VEGAS — On October 15, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) announced it is launching a new initiative to advance and protect data-driven marketing. Acting DMA CEO and President Linda A. Woolley announced the program during her opening address at the DMA 2012 Conference and Exhibition at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

The DMA has created the Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) as a way to coordinate the marketing industry’s efforts to promote the many ways data-driven marketing benefits consumers and fuels the data-driven economy.

“The DDMI will redouble DMA’s efforts to explain the benefits of the consumer data industry to the public and policymakers with the goal of preventing needless regulation or enforcement that could severely hamper consumer marketing and stifle innovation, tamping down unfavorable media attention, and reminding and educating consumers about the many and varied ways that their needs are met and they are thrilled and delighted,” Woolley said.

The DDMI’s work will include three major areas:

  • Advocacy: DDMI will bring data-driven marketers together to educate policymakers about the benefits the industry provides to consumers and the economy at large — and to fight restrictions on the collection and use of data that fuels the data-driven economy.
  • Consumer Engagement and Education: DDMI will work to engage and educate consumers about the benefits they receive from the use of their data, as well as the privacy protections and preferences available to them.
  • Research: DDMI will undertake an expansive research agenda to understand and communicate the value of the data-driven marketing industry to the overall economy; the consumer value that is derived from data-driven marketing; and consumer awareness about the use of data for marketing purposes.

For more information, visit

BVN President Pleads Guilty to $1.9 Million Infomercial Fraud

By Doug McPherson

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that the president of Business Vision Network Inc. (BVN) pled guilty in early October to his part in a $1.9 million investment fraud scheme involving TV infomercials, according to federal prosecutors.

Keith Allen Mills, 53, admitted guilt to one count of wire fraud in federal court. Mills and others are accused of soliciting investors by falsely claiming that BVN was a successful, stable company with $10 million in revenues, between January 2009 and October 2010.

Prosecutors say Mills lied and misled investors by telling them BVN had a large inventory of electric scooters for seniors and those with disabilities. They say Mills also falsely claimed he knew a way to sell the scooters that would have Medicare pay most of the costs. More than 90 people invested a total of about $1.9 million in the company, money prosecutors say Mills and associates used to live lavishly.

The 53-year-old Mills is scheduled for sentencing in January. He could get receive up to 20 years in federal prison.

Previously, Mills gained some notoriety in 2000 when he and his ex-wife, Mary M. Mills, started a company called The TV show was a paid program about financial news and appeared on the Pax TV network. Mills was a stockbroker when the show started. That company appears to have been dissolved in 2002, according to state business records.

About the Author: Doug McPherson

About the Author: Thomas Haire

Thomas Haire

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