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Direct Response Marketing

Field Reports

1 Oct, 2003 By: Thomas Haire, Michael Kokernak, Digby Orsmond Response

TruStar's Trudeau Takes a Stand on FTC Case


Northeast Turns on Viewers

On the heels of the acquisition of the AT&T Broadband New England cable systems, in May Comcast initiated carriage of CN8 in the New England region to 2.2 million subscribers.


In keeping with its local focus, the network recently debuted two New England-based programs "CN8 Nitebeat" and "CN8 Sports Pulse."

"CN8 Nitebeat," hosted by Barry Nolan, features lively conversation, debate and roundtable discussion about New England news and current events. Nolan, who has appeared on "Extra" and "Hard Copy," marks his return to the New England market, having spent a decade on the popular Boston show "Evening Magazine."

CN8 broadcasts from a studio facility in Boston, which is currently undergoing a $2 million state-of-the-art broadcast renovation.


DR-Driven Network

CN8 sells both traditional and direct response advertising. Sixty percent of the advertising is direct response related, and the network sells out on a quarter-to-quarter basis.


According to Flamini, CN8 is able to zone TV programming by market. However, most of its direct response inventory is sold to national clients who buy the entire subscriber base. Programming restrictions include paid ministry and no shopping pods during daytime or prime-time hours. CN8 has about nine hours a day available in long-form avails, but these avails are not sold in packages.

CN8 Comcast Philadelphia handles direct response sales, including short and long form, for both the Mid-Atlantic and New England feeds.

"The results are good, it is a solid network," says Jeff Nelson of Broadcast Response, located in Thousand Oaks, Calif., who has been buying time on CN8 for three years. "You couldn't ask to work with a nicer gang of people."

Michael Kokernak is president of Boston-based Backchannelmedia Inc., which specializes in digital broadcast satellite, cable and TV distribution for home shopping shows and networks. The company also represents several television stations for paid-programming sales. Kokernak can be reached at (617) 728-3626 or via E-mail at


Time-Life Music Finds Success in Europe

The past two years have been a challenging time for European advertisers and television stations alike with tragic events, such as Sept. 11 and the Iraqi war, contributing to a general decline in the advertising market. It is against this background, and within the complex European media environment, that Time-Life Intl. has managed to stay ahead of its DRTV competitors.



While many American companies have stumbled in their efforts to crack the European puzzle, Time-Life is one company that has gotten the DRTV formula just right.


The Winning Formula

It's taken several years, however, for Time-Life Intl. to become one of the most recognized DRTV advertisers across Europe. This leading position is mainly the result of applying best practices, developed over many years by its American parent, to its new product development, creative, media buying and campaign management strategies.


Germany, Europe's most populous country, was Time-Life's most developed market in 1988 when the company first decided to test DRTV. Traditional media, such as direct mail, had been used for several years, but the initial DRTV test proved so encouraging that other selected European markets were targeted based on the German experience. Markets in the United Kingdom and Ireland followed shortly afterwards, with Holland and Belgium being added in the late 1990s.

Joanna Reynolds, Time-Life Intl.'s managing director, says, "TV commercials for our music, video and DVD collections are now seen daily on a wide selection of channels, making Time-Life one of Europe's most recognized direct-to-consumer brands."

Acknowledging that the American model had been tested for nearly two decades in the United States, the way forward for Time-Life Intl. meant refining marketing plans to reflect how things are done in Europe. To this end, the experienced management team has stuck to what works best: negotiating access to the best performing TV channels; maintaining high value production standards; setting up a European distribution and billing infrastructure; managing inbound call centers in each territory; and offering fast and efficient customer service in each territory.


The Best-Selling Products

Historically, most product ideas are from the U.S. market, but Time-Life Intl. also develops unique products for its European markets. One of the most frequently asked questions is whether American music collections sell in Europe - or do they need to include local non-English speaking stars in the mix. Paul Busby, the company's European marketing director, explains, "More often than not, a hit in the U.S. will be a hit in Europe. We simply take a winning formula from America and tweak it to better-fit European tastes and chartography. There is no point in reinventing the wheel."


Getting it right means understanding different European cultural influences. However, an ongoing challenge for Time-Life Intl. is to get its DRTV spots and infomercials to comply with the broadcasting rules in each individual country.

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