Marketer of the Year Spotlight: Thane Direct Continues to Expand Worldwide Power1 Dec, 2009 By: Thomas Haire Response
In its October issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the inaugural Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. In the November issue, we began spotlighting the other seven top nominees. This month, we caught up with Paul Greenberg, Los Angelesbased chief creative officer for Thane Direct.
Since its launch in 1997, Thane Direct has posted revenue growth each year. In the past year, the company’s biggest sellers include the Slim ’n Lift (more than 10 million units sold), the H2O Mop and H20 Mop Ultra (nearly 3 million units sold) and the Flavorwave Turbo oven, both basic and platinum editions (more than 1 million sold). Thane Direct has more than 200 active products for sale in 80 countries around the world. Greenberg is one of the leading production executives in the direct response TV business. The company recently was honored with several Telly Awards for four of its TV campaigns.
Q: What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top 10 nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?
A: We’re gratified and proud to be recognized by the industry. The important thing is that our company is doing well and we’re selling, but it’s nice to be recognized. We hope that by being recognized, even more product marketers will come to us with projects, partner with us, and find out the extent of our operations. Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company? A: Not only have we avoided taking a massive hit in a particularly difficult financial year, but also in terms of sales and profits, it’s our biggest year ever.
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?
A: The year reminded us that what works best really does work best. The year was big, particularly, for the Flavorwave Turbo oven. This is the third show we’ve done for it in nine years, and sales were — to date — twice as many as all of the other versions combined.
Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?
A: While the U.S., Canada and England have been badly hit, we’ve had tremendous success expanding into markets all over the world — especially Australia. We have 14 offices in eight countries; 230 employees on five continents. We’ve launched more than 500 products in 150 countries, and have earned $4 billion in total sales. We have eight international satellite and cable channels — it’s a very vast network. Our target audience is diversified across the entire world.
Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?
A: We have a very big, promising product coming — the new AbDoer show. The original one sold 4 million units. We shot this new show in seven countries. We have another fitness product coming soon as well — 3-Minute Legs — a women’s lower-body exercise machine.
Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2010?
A: There is the potential for a lot of world turmoil, which could affect the price of oil. Because of that, we’re looking very carefully at items with a lot of plastic or foam, as they could become prohibitively expensive. Last year, the price of steel went up, affecting fitness products. I foresee higher-price point products coming back. People may have pulled back on $100 items, but toward the end of 2010, wallets are likely to start opening again.
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: Nearly all of our work is long form. We do short-form internationally and that market is tough. There are very few markets to buy short-form media in overseas. Long-form has been our forte, and internationally, the cost of media is so much cheaper than in the U.S. It’s more cost effective to spend a half-hour to sell a product overseas at a fraction of the media cost. We own four satellite channels in the pan-Arab region, which makes it very inexpensive to air whatever we want there.