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SEX SELLS ON DRTV

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DRTV HERO: EDITORS

BY RICK PATRY

ELECTRONIC RETAILER

July 10th, 2000

ERA INTERVIEW

SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL! THEY ALL SELL ON DRTV.

Back in the 70’s, I lived by the credo listed in the headline of this article. Today, I still live by this generational motto; except now I do it through the products I sell on TV.

Very few products in the above categories, other than aspirin and cold medicine, could ever have been advertised on TV. Today when spot and show makers complain about the restrictions on what they can claim about certain products they’ve either forgotten or just didn’t know how restrictive TV advertising was not that long ago. Let’s revisit those TV times, shall we?

Let’s take it category by category, but let’s leave sex (the most fun) for last. So drugs it is. When you said the words, “drug advertising” on TV in the 50’s ,60’s or 70’s, visions of Bayer, Bufferin and Anacin aspirin came to mind. Pepto-Bismol, Rolaids and Maalox and other OTC remedies were the only products allowed to be advertised on TV: period. If you needed a doctor’s prescription, there was no chance of being able to advertise your product on TV. It was not until the mid-eighties that doctor prescribed medications appeared on the tube. Claritin’s first TV spot for allergy medication showed nothing more than a person running through a field of flowers with a message to “Call your Doctor” for more information. Today, you can buy cholesterol-lowering Omega (fish) oil, diet pills and hair growth formula through DRTV. Heck, through DRTV you can get just about anything for any part of your body without a checkup or a prescription, delivered directly to your home and get a month’s supply free with your order. Who said the FTC and FDA are getting tougher on what’s being advertised?

Let’s move to Rock n’ Roll; music that is! Are you too young to remember The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show? That was as close as you could get to a direct response campaign. Here’s how it worked: The band appeared on TV and screaming maniacal fans ran to the record stores in great numbers. That’s truly direct response. But, if you were looking for a ‘Best of’ compilation you could forget about it. Columbia House was established in 1955, but it was strictly a mail order house. They did not advertise on TV until the mid-70’s when they advertised their “music club”. The concept of selling the “best of a particular artist or music genre had not yet been invented. Reselling music that people already owned wouldn’t sell just because it was repackaged. Wrong!

Along came Elvis, Country’s best, Truck Stop favorites, Gospel Jamboree and others, creating the backbone of companies like Time Life and Heartland Music. Nowadays, re-mastered compilations are pressed out in every category via DRTV regardless of whether the buyer already has the songs on record, audiocassette or CD.

Finally, let talk about everyone’s favorite category; Sex. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore slept in separate beds and everyone in America knew it. Truthfully, I can’t think of any product having to do with sex that was sold on TV before the early eighties. My first recollection of anything with a direct sexual connection being sold on TV, were condoms. The ads were allowed to run because condoms were not advertised as a sexual product but as a preventative of socially transmitted diseases (STDs). The stock price of Carter Wallace (Trojan’s owner) jumped a $100 in less than a week when those ads hit the airwaves. It proved that sex sells on TV. Now you can call for a pill that deals with every aspect of sexual dysfunction or enhanced pleasure. All of these products are available without a prescription? DRTV makes life that much better doesn’t it?

So, as you can see, Sex, Drugs and Rock n’Roll all sell via DRTV. The 60’s may have had free livin’ and free lovin’, but there certainly wasn’t a free month’s supply of products that fixed what ailed you!