News: Field Reports — January 20121 Jan, 2012 By: Jackie Jones, Thomas Haire Response
DRMA Marketer of the Year Spotlight
In its October 2011 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Third Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In this issue, we continue spotlighting the other top nominees in a monthly section, catching up with Amir Tukulj, president and CEO of Toronto-based Thane Direct.
Following up on a strong 2010, Thane Direct saw major growth from its top performing brands while introducing new product — from both licensed product owner partnerships and proprietary products. Thane Direct also continued its 2010 efforts in expanding its already wide international sales and marketing base.
Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top 11 nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?
A: We at Thane Direct have a deep respect for the DRMA and Response Magazine. John Yarrington and Thomas Haire have built a prestigious award — and a fun event where it is bestowed each year. We feel honored to be recognized by our industry peers as a nominee.
Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?
A: 2011 has turned out to be yet another banner growth year for Thane. We have achieved record revenues from our top performing brands, and have successfully introduced new product to the global market — both from our significant product owner partnerships as well as our own proprietary product entries.
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: Thane has worked hard to not only establish new products for the global marketplace but also to extend the shelf life of our core brands for the longest possible term. In 2011, we launched third, fourth and even fifth all-new versions of our top-selling lines, which have now become ubiquitous direct response brands. This is not a simple achievement — it requires meticulous product development and creative marketing support to maintain a brand’s global appeal through the years. In contrast to “changing” its business methods, Thane Direct has dramatically expanded its existing operations in DRTV, retail and digital marketing throughout all major regions of the world. In 2010, Thane launched new international subsidiary product development and marketing operations, and added recognized DRTV professionals to our impressive management team.
Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?
A: It has to do with in-market distribution and marketing, skilled management and committed staff, quality product, compelling messaging that is tailored to meet the cultural nuances of each international market, and solid infrastructure for all areas of product development and sourcing, production, media buying, telemarketing and fulfillment. Most importantly, Thane has built its business by knowing the specific consumer taste and regulatory requirements for each and every country around the world.
Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?
A: We are very focused on a successful 2012 — and as far as new product launches are concerned, we will always keep the industry appraised!
Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2012? Why?
A: While Thane will continue to concentrate on broadcast direct response and retail, emerging digital markets are beginning to show potential, and we will certainly exploit these opportunities.
Q: Does today’s consumer respond better to short-form or long-form DRTV? Which of these two formats are best supported by other media, including online, mobile, print and radio?
A: It depends, of course, on the product itself. Thane Direct is known for our effective long-form programs and will continue to build brands based on this format. We will also continue to concentrate on television and online media for our messaging.
TV Pitchman Trudeau Loses $37.6 Million Appeal
By Jackie Jones ([email protected])
WASHINGTON — Infomercial pitchman Kevin Trudeau — who for years has battled federal regulators over his marketing claims — recently lost an appeal of a $37.6 million fine for violating a 2004 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement, court documents show.
Trudeau, whose past business ventures have included “cures” for ailments such as hair and memory loss, obesity, AIDS and financial trouble, argued the fine was wrongly based on consumer losses rather than unjust gain and said a $2 million bond to ensure his compliance violated the First Amendment. However, the court disagreed, saying Trudeau’s commercials aired more than 32,000 times, violating of the FTC settlement, according to a Reuters report.
“The figure is conservative — it only considers sales from the 800-number, not sales in bookstores carrying his ‘As Seen On TV’ titles,” Judge John Tinder wrote in the panel’s ruling. “The government is not impotent to protect consumers — nor is the court powerless to enforce its orders — by imposing narrowly tailored restrictions on commercial speech.”
The FTC settlement centered on claims that Trudeau misrepresented the content of his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About,” according to the official document from the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. It rejected Trudeau’s claims that the bond violated his First Amendment rights.
“The protection of consumers is a substantial interest. And the performance bond directly advances that interest in at least two ways: It makes it more likely that consumers will be compensated for future violations,” the court said. “The bond requirement is proportional to the amount of harm Trudeau caused by previous deceptive infomercials.”
“We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals’ constitutional analysts,” Kimball Anderson of Winston & Strawn, Trudeau’s lawyer, said according to Reuters, adding no decision has been made on an appeal.
Obama Kicks Off TV Campaign with Short-Form DR
By Jackie Jones ([email protected])
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama tapped into the core of direct response television in his first official 2012 election TV ads from the Obama for America campaign.
The two video ads feature the U.S. president talking directly to viewers, asking them to call an 888-number, or visit JoinObama.com and enter their E-mail addresses and ZIP codes to get more involved in his re-election efforts.
“I need you to do me a favor, and it will only take a minute. The 2012 campaign is underway and the outcome will depend not on what I do, but on what you do,” Obama says in one of the DRTV ads. “Starting right now, call the number on your screen or visit JoinObama.com to help build our campaign in your community.”
“Don’t sit this one out,” he adds. “I’d love to see you out there.”
The advertisements are a “tiny buy” that will run on “national satellite” stations, according to the campaign. Such tactics will help the campaign “test how well they help to recruit people to join neighborhood campaign teams, knock on doors and register new voters,” according to a Huffington Post report.
“They can go in a targeted way, see where it hits, see how effective it is and work out the kinks,” Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who is not affiliated with the Obama campaign, told the Huffington Post.
The Obama short-form spots are a very interesting and fresh use of DRTV for politics, according to Doug Garnett, founder of Atomic Direct and a Response Advisory Board member. The video in which Obama speaks directly to consumers is particularly effective, Garnett said.
“It was honest and engaging for Mr. Obama to directly appeal for people to help him complete what ‘we all’ started. That message seemed believable and important — the kind of message that works in DRTV,” Garnett said. “In this directness, it’s clear what’s going on and if people are interested they’ll respond.”
The second spot, which focuses more on the grassroots appeal, doesn’t work as well and risks coming off “disingenuous,” Garnett noted.
“(Obama) still needs the grassroots action, but will have to generate it another way. The reality is that the grassroots spot just takes too long to develop,” he said. “For DRTV to work in these short formats, people need to know quite early what you’re asking them to do.”
This month on the Response Group Websites
Upsells don’t only help your direct sales numbers. They can also become powerful standalone products at retail! If you missed the December 2011 issue Web Exclusive Retail Spotlight feature, check it out now.
Registration for the direct response industry’s leading event, set for May 15-17 in San Diego, is open now. To find out more about the bustling trade show floor, 10 advanced educational sessions and half-dozen networking events that help you reach into the “Future of Customer Engagement” and register today, to visit, click here.
The DRMA’s latest networking event is set to take place in Chicago during the International Home+Housewares Show, which runs March 10-13. To RSVP, please click here.