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DRMA Spotlight

DRMA Spotlight: Cannella Goes a Long Way Toward DR Success

1 Apr, 2012 By: Jackie Jones

BURLINGTON, Wis. – A lot of big names in the direct response industry like to boast they’ve been part of the game since the beginning, but when you’re the company who’s been around long enough to have snagged the URL, you just might have a few more bragging rights on your side.

Cannella Response Television, founded in 1984 amid the birth of the infomercial itself, touts itself as the DRTV expert with low rates and high-profile media availabilities. Along with the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) member’s proprietary MediaStar software, Cannella’s buyers use traditional DRTV doctrine and extensive station and daypart analysis to recommend rollout strategies and bottom-line campaign media improvements. With a distinct expertise in long-form that comes from unparalleled history and experience within the industry, Cannella knows what works for DR marketers.

“We’re the longest-standing infomercial company out there. We have 30 years of experience, and we’re really an innovator in the industry,” says Robert Medved, CEO of Cannella Response Television. “Our roots show that we really gave birth to the infomercial industry and we’ve continued down that path.”

Medved himself joined Cannella Response Television in the mid-1990s after pairing up with Frank Cannella, the company’s chairman and founder, to market an invention of his own, a set of computer training guides. Along with its team of knowledgeable media buyers and executives, Medved says paying attention to past trends and evolutions of the past 30 years has been crucial to the company’s present and future success.

“The media climate has changed dramatically during the past 30 years. Along the way we’ve continued to morph the business to look at those challenges and make them opportunities,” Medved says. “Because we’ve been around for 30 years, we have a historical database that’s as rich as any in this industry that we can look back at and know: How does this industry perform? How do certain shows perform? And there’s a lot to that. A lot of people don’t do that; they don’t know what day of the week is the best day to run long-form infomercials. There is one, and we know what it is. A lot of that knowledge that only Cannella has goes into our media planning and buying.”

Cannella Response’s distinct and specific focus on long-form has always distinguished them from others in the business, Medved contends.

“At our root, we’re still a long-form infomercial company. That’s always been our focus and that’s a separator for us. We’re the largest long-form company in the industry, while our competitors who are in that space do other things as well,” he contends. “So they have focus in short-form, or they have focus in production in some cases, whereas we’re heavy into the data and analytics and innovation surrounding the long-form commercial. We moved from being a pioneer in the industry to continuing to be such a large presence on all the cable networks and broadcast stations, owning such an immense amount of time and continuing to send those stations and networks billions of dollars over the years. That’s been a huge difference that’s crucial to our clients’ success.”

As the industry has changed and the space began to fragment five years go, Cannella also became the dominant aggregator of the linear space, according to Medved.

“Essentially, we became our own network; inserting ourselves in the lineup 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, running paid programming,” he says. “We’ve monetized that space with the marketer in mind, as well, running it on a performance basis, where the marketer isn’t at risk. They set their payout rather than hiring us as an agency where we make a commission, and it’s really been a game changer. Marketers love it because it’s guaranteed media, and it’s a really good base that offsets their at-risk commission media buying — which we’re also really good at.”

Cannella’s expertise goes beyond any one vertical, Medved says, and any marketer not part of the crowd is missing out on ample opportunities. “We work with everyone in the industry because of the platform we’ve built. Whether it’s Beachbody or Tristar or Allstar or GAIAM or Guthy-Renker, we work with them all. And they are very good at what they do, whether they’re predominantly in a specific vertical like health-and-beauty or fitness, we have great experience with all those products,” he says. “We’ve run some of the largest hits of the day, whether it goes all the way back to Tae-Bo, all the way through all the different verticals, products and categories of today, like P90X.”

Cannella Response Television has experienced significant growth in recent years — moving into new space in both its Burlington, Wis., headquarters and Los Angeles office locations — a reflection of the team members who make both the company’s and its clients’ success possible, Medved says.

“We will continue to pay attention to hiring the best people we can find. That’s been the key to our success,” Medved adds. “Direct response is an entrepreneurial business and a relationship business. At the same time, it’s becoming more of a database and technology-driven business. Making sure we have the right people in the right places that fit the growth of our industry and the business within it is really what we have to stand up for.”

While focused on internal operations, Cannella plans on always keeping an eye on the overall picture, as well. “Being aligned with the vision of where we think direct response television is going to sit,” Medved concludes, “and also what it’s going to look like in the next three or four years is very important, because it is changing.”

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