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Direct Response Marketing

9 Honorees Chosen for Inaugural Class of the New DR Hall of Fame

20 Feb, 2013


SANTA ANA, Calif. – Response Magazine and its Advisory Board are proud to announce the creation of the Direct Response Hall of Fame and welcome its inaugural class, which is made up of nine legendary leaders in the direct response marketing business: Jim Caldwell, Frank Cannella, Bill Guthy, Kevin Joseph Lyons, Joe Pedott, Ron Popeil, Greg Renker, Sy Sperling and Sydney Yallen.

“The DR Hall of Fame is an idea that’s been a few years in the making, and its genesis must be credited to Northern Response’s Richard Stacey, who has been dogged in his desire for Response and the industry as a whole to truly honor those who have helped turn direct response marketing into a $300 billion annual business,” says Thomas Haire, editor-in-chief of Response. “With our Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) already honoring a Marketer of the Year and a Member of the Year annually, the DR Hall of Fame was the next logical step for our team.”

The group will be honored during an induction ceremony at Response Expo in San Diego on Thursday, April 4. The event, which will be hosted on the Expo Hall floor at 3 p.m., is sponsored by DG and LiveOps, and will follow a special panel discussion with a group of the inductees that will take place from 1:45-2:45 p.m. at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

“We are thrilled to honor such an esteemed group of inductees in our first class,” says John Yarrington, publisher of Response. “With more than 30 nominees submitted initially by our Advisory Board, the breadth of experience and service to the DR business displayed by the members of this first group will truly set the tone for what it takes to join the ranks of the DR Hall of Fame in the coming years.”

Following are brief biographies of the nine inductees:

  • After hosting mainstream TV shows in Boston, New York and in syndication, Jim Caldwell discovered infomercials in the spring of 1986. He hosted and/or executive produced dozens of shows with Kevin Harrington during the next three years, before starting Future Thunder Productions Inc. in 1989, and hit his first home run in the fall of 1991 with The Flying Lure. The likes of Carl Daikeler, Sam Catanese, Collette Liantonio and a few other luminaries in the business got their start in the world of infomercials with him during those frontier days. Caldwell went on to win more than a dozen ERA awards as writer, director and producer, including Infomercial of the Year in 1999 for the RotoZip Spiral Saw. According to Catanese, Caldwell has hosted more infomercials than anyone else — nearly 100.
  • Frank Cannella is the founder of Cannella Response Television LLC. He pioneered the long-form DRTV industry in 1982 when he capitalized on a marketing opportunity that helped launch the multibillion-dollar industry. Later, in 1984, Cannella presented an interpretation of the FCC’s deregulation report to rep firms, propelling the rapid growth and acceptance of the long-form advertisement. Today, his company, Cannella Response Television, is celebrating its 28th anniversary, specializing in direct response television long-form media placement on national cable networks, local broadcast stations and on several Cannella-controlled, dedicated, linear channels.
  • Established in 1988, Guthy-Renker is one of the world’s largest direct marketers with annual sales of $1.5 billion and was listed in 2007 by Forbes Magazine as one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S. Bill Guthy, along with co-founding partner Greg Renker, has been spotlighted by Fortune Magazine on its list of “America’s Smartest Young Entrepreneurs” and also was honored regionally as one of Inc.’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year.” Married to Victoria Jackson and father of three (ages 26, 19 and 16), Guthy is also Co-Founder of the Guthy-Jackson Foundation. GJF is dedicated to discovering the cause, treatment and cure of NMO (Neuro-Myelitis Optica) a rare, life threatening autoimmune disease that affects the optic nerve and spinal cord.
  • Kevin Joseph Lyons has nearly 40 years of experience in media sales and marketing. He has held sales and executive positions in local and national radio and television and was on the team that launched Lifetime Television in 1984. After serving as Lifetime’s executive vice president of ad sales, he formed Opportunity Television as an independent company in 1986 in order to build the direct response business in national cable. Lyons was an original member of NIMA – now known as the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) – and has helped shape the direct response television business of today. He has four children, including three sons who are all in the advertising business, and nine grandchildren.
  • While attending University of Illinois in 1952, Joe Pedott co-founded Pedott & Peters Advertising in Chicago, writing hundreds of live television commercials before moving to San Francisco in 1958. He then founded Joseph Pedott Advertising & Marketing Inc., offering complete sourcing, sales, distribution, marketing and advertising services. Clients such as Gillette, Parker Pen and Vitamix were successful with Pedott’s innovative retail promotions using television. Television advertising extended product longevity for clients such as Garden Claw, making it the No. 1 selling garden tool for 17 years. Pedott then established Joseph Enterprises Inc. in 1981 and – spurred by the power of television advertising – developed its own iconic brands such as the Chia Pet and The Clapper, holiday staples now for more than 30 years.
  • Ron Popeil is a famed American inventor, pitchman, television star, and the creator of the television infomercial. At 16 years old, he began to sell products his father’s factory produced in the Chicago flea markets. By age 17, Popeil had amassed enough of a savings to set up a stand at the flagship Woolworth’s store in Chicago. In the early 1950’s, after discovering the reach and power of the television, he – along with his partner at the time, Mel Korey – produced the first one-minute long, black-and-white infomercial for the Ronco Chop-o-Matic. Some of Popeil’s other hit products include: the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Veg-O-Matic, the RONCO Food Dehydrator, the RONCO 6-Star Plus Knives, and the Showtime Rotisserie. His product sales have grossed in the billions. Many of the phrases and pitches Popeil has used in his infomercials have become an inseparable part of America’s vernacular including: “Set it and forget it,” “But wait, there’s more,” “Now how much would you pay?” and, of course, “Less shipping and handling.”
  • Established in 1988, Guthy-Renker is one of the world’s largest direct marketers with annual sales of $1.5 billion and was listed in 2007 by Forbes Magazine as one of the largest privately held companies in the U.S. Greg Renker, along with co-founding partner Bill Guthy, has been spotlighted by Fortune Magazine on its list of “America’s Smartest Young Entrepreneurs” and also was honored regionally as one of Inc.’s “Entrepreneurs of the Year.” Renker co-founded the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and, in 2004, he received ERA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of the organization. Renker is deeply involved in his local community, serving on the Board of Directors and as vice chairman of the Eisenhower Medical Center, as well as the former chairman of the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences. Renker also received the 2012 Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans.
  • Not only is Sy Sperling the founder and former president of Hair Club for Men, but as his DRTV ads made him famous for, he’s “also a client.” After opening his first hair-restoration salon in 1969, he formed Hair Club in 1976 after celebrity endorser Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees made his business famous. By the 1990s, there were more than 85 Hair Club salons in business across the United States, and Sperling’s memorable turns as DRTV spokesman were as impressive as his business touch in running the company, which reached more than $100 million in annual revenue at its peak. Sperling sold the business in 2000 (beauty giant Regis Corp. has been its owner since 2004), and is retired.
  • Sydney Yallen, InterMedia’s founder, was a direct response advertising pioneer and industry long time industry leader. A leading innovator in direct response media applications, Yallen and his son Robert grew the InterMedia Group of Companies® from a regional agency into a national powerhouse with annual billings of more than $500 million. Media savvy at a young age – he started working for a Los Angeles radio station at the age of 13 – Syd advanced through the general advertising ranks until the late 1960s, when he was instrumental in developing the media buying entity concept, eventually founding InterMedia Time Buying Corp.® in 1974. A sprinter in high school and college, he graduated with a business degree from the University of Southern California, which he attended after serving in the Navy in World War II.

To be a part of the inaugural induction ceremony on April 4, please register to attend Response Expo today at responseexpo.com.


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