Mysterious Means Surface to Help DR Marketers Find Independence1 Jul, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
"The free way of life proposes ends, but it does not prescribe means." — Robert F. Kennedy, 1964
July is the month when Americans of every stripe celebrate the freedom and independence of the United States. However, as Robert Kennedy put it more than 40 years ago, while the "why" and "where-for" of freedom and independence are instilled in citizens of the U.S. from a very young age, the prescription for "how" to gain freedom and independence — whether as a nation or simply as an individual — is not such a neat little package.
The same can be said for a growing industry. Many industries have faced great challenges before gaining freedom and independence to operate with few strictures and the trust of the business community and — most importantly — the consumer.
The direct response business has been one of those industries that has had to fight for respect from marketers who, in the past, would bash it as a haven for the quick-buck seeker. It has also had to fight to gain the trust of the consumer, as well as freedom from constant oversight by governmental agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, perhaps while many weren't paying attention, the means for the proponents and true believers in DR marketing to gain freedom and independence were growing in the corporate and technology spaces.
While direct response television still remains the heartbeat of many DR campaigns, during the past 20 years new technology — from the Internet in the 1990s to mobile marketing and, now, social media in this decade — has made direct response marketing the clear leader in today's multimedia, ROI-driven world.
No longer does Corporate America chuckle at the thought of utilizing direct response. Now, companies like Hyundai, Subway, Kodak and more seek out the varying facets of direct response — from television, to online, to mobile phones.
With that newfound respect from all marketers, direct response has become more trusted across a wider swath of the American consumer base. At the same time, while the FTC, FDA and other government agencies still seek out renegade marketers, the direct response industry has outgrown — for the most part — what used to seem a giant target on its collective back.
For much of the past 25 years, the direct response marketing world has been seeking freedom from doubt and independence from oversight. Few could have known that its means to those ends would come from the combination of corporate marketers and advancing technology.
However, those are the means — witness the cover story on mobile marketing leader Nokia Interactive, or the corporate marketers mentioned in the story about long-form DRTV production.
Yes, Mr. Kennedy, freedom's means are definitely mysterious.