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9th Annual European Market Guide: Major Growth Across the Pond

10 Jun, 2010 By: Pat Cauley Response

Even with continued market-to-market hurdles, the European DRTV space comes of age.


Quinlan suggests that the vision to expand globally should begin before a show is even produced to ensure that the product and show are “international-ready” from the start. “Short-form shows do very well in the U.S., but this is not usually the case internationally. Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part European distributors prefer long form. Many U.S. marketers are opting to produce 15-minute shows, and this has proven acceptable for overseas distributors. Also, there are differences in certifications, importation laws and claim substantiations, which should be taken into consideration before finalizing the creative.”

The best way to accomplish this is by shooting some “watered down” footage for European consumption only, rather than jeopardize the power of a show specifically designed to tackle the U.S. market, Purcell says. “So script vetting and prep is key to getting a compliant show at minimum extra cost, time and editing in Europe,” he says. And just as U.S. marketers consider the FTC while creating campaigns, regulations and compliance in Europe are just as stringent, if not more so.

Regulation Nations

As some U.S. marketers may still be baffled by the Federal Trade Commission’s recent Endorsement and Testimonial Guide changes, those who already run campaigns in Europe would probably consider the changes a cakewalk. For instance, New Image TV Group’s Tracy Holdsworth mentioned a new directive that takes the “results not typical” debate to new levels.

“It limits the use of testimonials in infomercials where weight-loss claims are made unless healthy BMI (body mass index) indexing on each person featured is within pre-determined tolerance levels before and after the use of advertised product,” Holdsworth says. “This dilutes the strength of U.S. infomercials even further and eliminates the use of any person whom is determined as obese by their BMI alone.”

Purcell adds, “Clearcast, which vets DRTV shows for compliance in the U.K., has ‘heavily recommended’ that similar guidelines be followed by U.K. companies in an atmosphere of self-regulation. If these companies are not mindful of this ‘suggestion,’ the feeling is that OfCom, the ultimate regulator, may look at imposing them.”

Orsmond contends regulations that soften the sell can have a detrimental effect on sales, like he recently experienced with an anti-snoring device that had been a huge hit in the States. “We unfortunately had to edit out many of the testimonials to comply with EU broadcast regulations that, as a consequence, the U.S. spot lost its punch ultimately generating poor sales in the U.K.,” he says. Still, if a marketer is able to cut through the red tape, there are consumers waiting eagerly on the other side.

EU Road Map

As with any market, the EU is full of consumers looking for products that satisfy a need and make their lives easier. A few simple tips could be the difference between effectively connecting with these consumers or failing. Purcell warns that while upsells may seem like a good idea stateside, the cost of calls along with hang-up rates may end up killing a campaign in Europe.

Alahmari cautions to make sure you can sell at a price the Europeans can make work. “Look for products with very low cost of goods, rather than what’s most popular here,” he says. “A lot of times, something fails here and is a smash hit in Europe. Make sure it’s a product with ROI from TV and not a product with return coming from retail sales. Europeans cannot afford to spend money for TV advertisements if it’s a negative model.”

He also sees huge growth opportunities for European DR in promoting DRTV products within both the retail and in the
E-commerce spaces, particularly with social media and SEM. “In the U.S., companies are branding their lines by using social forums and blog sites to drive sales and public relations,” Alahmari says. “This is not being done as much over there. There is a lot more to the Web than just advertising a domain at the bottom of your infomercial.”

Consequently, Alahmari sees room for improvement in the retail sector. “In Europe you don’t have the retail model for DRTV products as you do here. That being said, when a European marketer tries to run a product that may have had major success in the U.S., often it fails because the sales are almost completely reliant on TV ROI,” he says.

Orsmond stresses that U.S. marketers need to be sure to consider payment methods as credit card usage in Europe varies significantly from country to country. “In Britain, plastic money is the norm with around 96 percent of orders being paid for by credit card, while in France the figure drops down to 54 percent. And in Germany, the biggest European economy, only around 32 percent of buyers choose to use plastic — the purchase method of choice being COD (cash on delivery),” he says.

He warns that taking inbound calls also requires careful planning as Europe does not have a national toll-free 800 service, so every country requires its own unique telephone number. “Also, at present there is no single Pan-European telecom operator covering all the EU member countries,” Orsmond adds. “This makes the call-to-action end tags on many pan-European DRTV ads very complex — some spots carry as many as 15 completely different telephone numbers next to the flags of each country.”

While there are clearly many elements to consider when launching a DRTV campaign in Europe, if executed correctly, the opportunities are plentiful.

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