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Sports & Fitness

Winning in DR's Fittest Market

15 Jan, 2010 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

While the company does not have much success in spots, it thrives off the infomercial. In fact, everything marketed by Product Partners is sold through DR alone — none of it goes to retail. “In no way has TV marketing been diminished,” says Congdon. “A story needs to be told for the product. Telling the story and real-people testimonials are what sells. They need to see people like them. We hear it over and over again: it made them believe they could do something to change their lives.”

As far as price goes, television may be more expensive than some online campaigns, but many marketers still think it’s more bang for your buck. Kevin Harrington, CEO of, says that while the trend in recent years has been a rise in media rates for the short-form marketplace, long-form has remained rather steady. That is why for the launch of a new fitness product (in partnership with Tony Little), long-form still seems the way to go.

“I think that definitely in television — more in long form than short — there are tremendous avails in the marketplace. There are more than 1,000 stations and a lot of hours in a day,” says Harrington. “In short form, you go to the cable networks and it’s more competitive, fewer spots, and supply and demand is tougher.”

Two years ago, Little and Harrington partnered to develop a new product and came up with the Private Trainer Gym. It sells for less than $100 and does more than 40 exercises. The idea was that the price point could not be too high, and there had to be a lot of value to the one product. The gym will launch this month on the Home Shopping Network (HSN). “We’re going after high value, low price point and a low point of entry,” says Harrington. “Then, on the back end, there will be nutrition packages and DVDs.”

Harrington has used the HSN barometer test before. The idea is to test a script on HSN first, see the results and adjust the content accordingly for the second show, all the while improving the number of units sold per episode. By the end of the fourth show, Harrington expects that Little will have the perfect pitch down and they will be ready to sell in long form. “If you put it on HSN and it doesn’t work, that’s a bad thing. It’s a good testing ground,” says Harrington.

While media channels are becoming more segmented, television is not going away. “I’ve read a lot of anecdotal information that there are still people who watch commercials, even with TiVo,” says Peter Aronow, creative director/executive producer/director of PB&J Partners, a DRTV creative and production company. “It’s a segmenting market. When the Internet first got big, people said it would take over. But no one channel will have all the sales. People like to shop in different ways.”


The Strong Supporting Role of the Web
Gaiam has been very aggressive with online marketing: using the right metatags to get high rankings on organic search charts, keywords and phrases. The company also has inserted pop ads for consumers that come to the site. And now, Gaiam is getting its jump into online social media. Though still working out how to gain traction on other sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, Gaiam creates blogs and chat rooms of its own for consumers using its products. The company brings celebrities to the blog to offer nutritional and training tips.

Product Partners does integrate social communities into its marketing mix, including the use of its blog. Called Team Beachbody, the blog is a place where workout buddies can meet and discuss their progress. The site is less to create sales though and more to create success. “When we create success, they can’t stop talking about the brand,” says Congdon.

Gracie Combatives is another company that uses the Web to market and generate sales successfully. Gracie Combatives, a form of Jiu-Jitsu developed by the Gracie family, offers a box set of 13 instructional DVDs that incorporates a Brazilian self-defense method that goes back generations. The techniques, used by U.S. special forces and other combat fighters, teach even the smallest person to take down a stronger person. With these DVDs, Gracie has taken the martial arts and turned it into a fitness and diet regimen for a healthy lifestyle.

As part of the multi-channel product, Gracie also offers a subscription, internationally, to those who order the DVDs. The subscription allows consumers to take classes online and watch famous Gracie training instructors each week. And when the customer is ready, he or she can mail in a video for evaluation and either receive accreditation or a critique on how to properly complete the certification. Therefore, a lofty presence on the Web is integral to Gracie’s success.

“Every time you run a DRTV ad, you have a problem if you’re not getting Web sales almost immediately afterwards,” says Tim Dupler, founder of Dupler TV.

Dupler TV creates the DRTV ads for the Gracie campaign and knows that, though some people order on the phone, a lot of consumers are reluctant to get engaged in a conversation and prefer to research and order online. “If it’s online, they can spend less money and click out of if and when they want,” he says.

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