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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports

1 Dec, 2010 By: Jackie Jones, Thomas Haire Response

The latest news and information from the world of DR marketing.

Pillow Pets Take Infomercials Inc. to New Heights

By Thomas Haire (

Inits October 2010 issue, Response announced and spotlighted the three finalists and winner of the Second Annual Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award. Beginning with the November issue, we are spotlighting the other seven top nominees in a monthly section. This month, we caught up with Doug Fowkes, CEO of Provo, Utah-based Infomercials Inc.

Since its debut in late 2009, Infomercial Inc.’s Pillow Pets line has sold more than 2 million units, with retail orders nearing 8 million for the holiday shopping season. The company also had a hugely successful retail test earlier this year with Toys ‘R’ Us. Other successful products from Infomercials Inc. include Work GT, Fein MultiMaster, Cricut Expression and the Miche Bag.

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: It truly is a great honor to be nominated for Marketer of the Year. We have a great team of individuals who have worked very hard to make our campaigns successful this past year, and it feels good to be recognized for our efforts. This is an industry full of surprises and drama. Every day is a new experience. We love it, we have a passion for it, and I believe that passion shows in our campaigns.

Q: What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

A: We are most proud of our newest home run infomercial, Pillow Pets. Pillow Pets is cute, charming and full of magic. Creating that magic is always the most difficult task we face in creating any of our shows, but I’m proud of Pillow Pets for a different reason. In the past, we’ve had huge successes in the “tough tool” category with infomercials like Little Giant Ladder, Worx GT and the Fein MultiMaster. As a result, people were beginning to say, “Infomercials Inc.? Those are the guys that do those really good tool videos!” We were becoming known only for our tool shows. That all changed with the success of Pillow Pets.

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? If so, how?

A: Well, our concept has traditionally been to focus on making incredible shows, and everything else will fall into place. Production has been our main focus. Profit and growth have been the natural result. However, from our most recent successes, including Pillow Pets, we’ve discovered that there are many other avenues of revenue that can be realized through a well-run marketing campaign. We have been redirecting efforts to explore these avenues, which include alternate forms of mass media, the use of PR firms, emerging international markets, strategic partners and the ever-increasing possibilities of Internet commerce.

Q: Why do you think your business responded well during the recent economic downturn?

A: We’ve had 300-percent growth during the economic downturn. What economic downturn? Seriously, people have and will always buy principally through emotion. Strong emotions overshadow the current economic conditions.

Q: What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?

A: No sleep, no vacation time and especially no sick days. We have a very aggressive schedule. We can’t tell you what our next 10 products will be or we’ll be knocked off before this article is even published. But I can tell you that at least three of our products should be major home runs. In fact, we are experimenting with a new kind of offer where we give a $200 dollar product away for free — and no, we don’t try to make up the difference with inflated shipping costs. Another potential home run product is a new product that has never been introduced before by anyone. Look for it in September 2011.

Q: What vertical markets do you believe are best equipped to survive current economic issues — and even thrive — in 2011? Why?

A: Any product that solves problems, fills needs, has some wow factor, and has the right cost-of-goods-to-price-point ratio has the potential to do well regardless of the market. Consumers consume even in down markets — they’re just more selective.

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: That question depends on how good of a salesman you are. I’m of the firm belief that you can sell anybody almost anything in a half hour with the right product and a brilliant sales presentation. In 28.5 minutes you can convince people of a lot. In two minutes, you don’t have that luxury. Long-form depends more on the sales presentation itself. Short-form depends more on the product. Naturally, print ads, banners, E-mail blasts and mobile media all work better, right out of the gate, with short-form products that don’t require the big half hour sales pitch. However, if a long-form show achieves household recognition status, then based on that recognition, it too can do well in those other media formats.

Mobile Advertising Sales Projected to Hit $24.1 Billion by 2015

By Jackie Jones (

London — Sales from mobile advertising could rise tenfold to hit $24.1 billion by 2015, according to a report by Informa Telecoms & Media.

“The launch of Apple’s iAd advertising platform is forcing rivals to speed up their own mobile advertising strategies,” Shailendra Pandey, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and author of the recent research, said in a press release. “Google has responded by acquiring AdMob and has announced it is on track to generate $1 billion in (U.S.) revenues from mobile in 2010, a significant portion of which will be mobile advertising revenues. Google has also reported a 500-percent growth in mobile search queries between 2008 and 2010.”

Much of the industry’s growth will be coming from China and India, with the Asia Pacific developing region accounting for the largest share by 2015 at 30.9 percent, Informa said. North America will account for 18 percent of the market in 2015, Latin America will claim 6.4 percent and Western Europe will account for 8.6 percent, according to the report.

“The mobile advertising industry has now moved beyond the trial and experimental phase and many advertisers and brands are now spending significant sums on running mobile campaigns each month,” Pandey said.

Allstar Products Group Debuts Snuggie Seasonal Television Spots

By Jackie Jones (

HAWTHORNE, N.Y. — Allstar Products Group, winner of the 2009 Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award, has debuted its latest holiday-themed television spots for the Snuggie brand.

The commercials feature different spins on holiday classics such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells,” and are airing during a six-week period across cable and syndicated programming, as well as on and on the official Snuggie YouTube channel, according to Anne Flynn, vice president of marketing at Allstar.

“In addition to warmth and comfort, our fans look to Snuggie for fun and entertainment, and that’s what this new product line provides and ad campaign communicates,” Flynn tells Response. “We’ve also introduced more than 10 new styles such as Monkey Fun, Peace & Love, Skull & Crossbones and even licensed ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and ‘Dora the Explorer’ blankets for kids. There is truly a Snuggie for anyone on your holiday list.”

The television campaign consists of 30-, 15- and 10-second spots running on television, Web sites and social media channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Thousands online have parodied Snuggie ads in the past, and Allstar expects similar success this holiday season.

“We expect the ads to get significant attention online based on what we’ve seen in the past — Snuggie ads are extremely viral,” Flynn said. “The additional component of online/viral was integral to the success of the campaign last year. We still receive millions of impressions online and this is in addition to a multimillion dollar retail ad support campaign.”

Allstar is also utilizing social media platforms to encourage fans to come up with their own favorite holiday-inspired videos, and says consumers can expect more fashion, innovation and expansion within the Snuggie brand in the future.

Top Mobile Service Providers to Form Joint Commerce Network

By Jackie Jones (

NEW YORK — AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless have joined forces to create Isis, a national mobile commerce network that aims to help customers more easily pay for consumable goods with their cellular phones.

The initial focus of Isis is to build a mobile payment network that enables mobile devices to make point-of-sale purchases, according to a press release.

“Our mobile commerce network, through relationships with merchants, will provide an enhanced, more convenient, more personalized shopping experience for consumers,” said Michael Abbott, chief executive officer of Isis.

Isis is working with Discover Financial Services’ payment network to develop the mobile payment infrastructure for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon’s joint venture. Barclaycard US could be the first issuer on the network, according to sources.

“We believe the venture will have the scope and scale necessary to introduce mobile commerce on a broad basis. In the beginning, we intend to fully utilize Discover’s national payments,” Abbott said. “Moving forward, Isis will be available to all interested merchants, banks and mobile carriers.”

According to Isis, the new service will use near-field communication (NFC), which “uses short-range, high frequency wireless technology to enable the encrypted exchange of information between devices at a short distance.” Consumers would need to upgrade their phone to one that is embedded with an NFC chip before using Isis, according to Reuters. Isis expects to introduce its service to key geographic markets within the next 18 months.

“While mobile payments will be at the core of our offering, it is only the start,” Abbott said. “We plan to create a mobile wallet that ultimately eliminates the need for consumers to carry cash, credit and debit cards, reward cards, coupons, tickets and transit passes.”

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