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Direct Response Marketing

DR AddsSpark to Consumer Electronics

1 Dec, 2009 By: Doug McPherson Response

Consumer electronics sagged in 2009. Nevertheless, direct response marketing kept sales from sinking lower — and for good reason: DR fits consumer electronics like a plug fits an electrical outlet.

You could say direct response and consumer electronics are like the “You-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter” moment from the old Reese’s peanut butter cups ads. Together, they’re a winner. And, actually, their marriage is much older than you might realize.

“Direct response isn’t new for consumer electronics. Not many people know this, but DVD players were first marketed with infomercials,” says Tim O’Leary, CEO of R2CGroup, a DR firm in Portland, Ore., that’s been using DR to sell consumer electronics since the early 1990s.

O’Leary explains that clients clamor for DR when they understand it. “When you explain to a consumer electronics client that DR media time is 60 to 70 percent off normal media costs — plus they get more time to demonstrate their product, which consumer electronics often needs — and that they recoup the ad money they spent, then you can get a company to spend millions on DR,” he says. “These companies never thought of their brand ads as having metrics. Even if we’re driving retail, let’s put the algorithms in place and you start to see the budget go up.”

Some of those big spenders are well known, too. DirecTV, Philips, Toshiba and even AT&T tapped DR as early as the mid-1990s. And in the late-90s, DR helped sell Apple computers as a better option over personal computers. In fact, R2C Group and Apple took home a CLIO for their 30-minute infomercial.

“These companies didn’t think they were DR kinds of companies, but now they’re coming around to the idea of DR,” O’Leary says. “I’m getting well-known brands coming to me, particularly in this economy, and showing interest in DR.”

A Kodak Moment
It’s not just product brands migrating to DR, traditional ad agencies are moving beyond the “toe-in-the water” tests of DR, especially for consumer electronics. One example is the Kaplan Thaler Group, a brand agency in New York. It has created a direct marketing arm called KTG Direct Effect, which took home some trophies recently at the 30th Annual Telly Awards, which honor cable television’s best commercials and programs, for its work with Kodak.

Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and chief creative officer at the Kaplan Thaler Group, says her company applies the same creative philosophy and strategic approach to DR marketing. “It [KTG Direct Effect] provides DR marketers with a bigger bang for their buck,” she says. “KTG Direct Effect creates excitement about our clients’ products, captivates their consumers and closes the deal with a single showing … [it] clearly drives traffic to retail and catapults sales.”

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