Field Reports1 Jul, 2006 By: Thomas Haire, Nicole Urso Reed Response
AReliant Interactive Media merged with Thane in 2002. We maintained our corporation, however, and one of the negative aspects of that was all of the shows we produced — and many of the projects we had great success with — during that venture were branded under the Thane umbrella. We didn't really capitalize on the credit of these shows. We did hundreds of millions of sales from our products and shows — from the Q-Grill to the True Sleeper mattress topper and the Thunderstick Mixer, among others. These shows were very successful in terms of sales and profits for Thane, both domestically and internationally. However, Reliant did not really achieve any of the credit in the marketplace for these successes. Now that we have reemerged, Reliant is able to capitalize on its own successes. As evidence, the Dual Drill is our first project since coming out of the Thane venture that has been a major success. This product is one of a string of shows that we are very excited about, and we have marked several million dollars to put into production of new projects.
Q. What can Reliant do for direct response marketers that sets it apart from other companies in this space?
A. Reliant's niche in the infomercial industry is that we are very heavily involved in product development and production: finding the product, creating the unique selling proposition for that product and bringing in a team of professionals, from the production standpoint, that are employed by us. We own a lot of our own equipment — three editing suites. At one point in our careers, we owned our own full-time studio, but the overhead of that became more than we wanted. We now use studios on a freelance basis. We'll take an inventor's idea on a napkin and finance the development of the product and produce the infomercial. We'll pay for and finance the whole process. In this day and age, it's tougher to find people who will put out a half-million dollars out-of-pocket before a product comes to the marketplace. We are very entrepreneurial — we call it venture-marketing money.
Q. Can you talk about your relationships with some of the industry's long-time leaders?
A. The best part of the business has been meeting people and helping launch the careers of some of the top guys in the business. Earl Greenburg I met in the late 1980s. He had been a lawyer at NBC. We were looking to open an office in Los Angeles, and he became the president of our West Coast operations. He then hired Dave Petitto and a whole staff of people. In fact, we had a joint venture with Guthy-Renker in those days called QGR (Quantum Guthy-Renker). We put $1 million in the bank and funded 10 projects together. Sam Catanese was a great producer in Philadelphia. He ran our production company back in the mid-1980s. Sam oversaw all the productions of our early infomercials. He then went on to build IMS, one of the great research companies in the business. Carl Daikeler was just a young man when I met him. What a great entrepreneur he has become over the years in building a huge business with Jon Congdon at Beachbody. Carl ran our company, which was called QSP (Quantum Satellite Programming) out of Philadelphia. QSP launched in the 1990s as the first 24-hour infomercial channel. We also helped launched Jim Caldwell's career back in the 1980s. He hosted 25 infomercials for us, including the first-ever fishing infomercial, The Flying Lure. It's fun to see all of the people in the business today, many of whom we've done business with all these years.