“Honoring the Vets”
As the industry continues to gain street cred on Madison Avenue, Electronic Retailer looks back and celebrates the milestones, mishaps and future plans of a few of the biggest names in direct response.
By Pat Cauley
With every passing day, direct response marketing becomes more of an American and global mainstay. But for some of the longstanding industry veterans, what lessons have they learned? How has the industry changed over the years? Where do they see the industry moving forward? Electronic Retailer conducted interviews with a variety of DR companies that have been in the industry for at least 10 years.
Meltzer Media Productions, President Jeff Meltzer
A: Started in 1985, my company was credited with creating the first skincare infomercial ever. It was the first time there were before/afters with women who used skincare products. Since that time, MMP has created, produced and edited almost 2,000 campaigns in every selling category in DRTV. We’re a full-service turnkey company that creates spots and shows, supervises DRTV campaigns including fulfillment, telemarketing, media and distribution and helps in the creation and launch of new products.
Q: What is your proudest moment over the last 23 years?
A: Too many to list, but since you asked:
1. Creation of the first long-form skincare infomercial (grossed over $100 million)
2. Creation of the Iconic Sports Illustrated campaigns (sneaker and football phones, swimsuit videos, blooper videos, etc.)
3. Creation of the first Travelmerical Series (The Vacation Store) for the Travel Channel
4. Creation of Mad Math (Edu-mercial) for The Learning Channel (won the Emmy award for Best Children’s Cable series)
5. Tae Bo, The Bean, The Heat Surge, Finally Fast, etc.
6. Being in one of the toughest businesses in the world for 23 years and having the best year of our existence
and 7. Having some of the most talented people in TV work for me.
Q: In what ways have you seen the direct response industry change over the last 23 years?
A: The buyer has become much smarter and more sophisticated, so your products and offers have to be that much better in order to sell what you need to justify the costs of running a DRTV campaign. The breakup of the networks and the proliferation of cable channels have niched out the viewing audience. You can’t be all things to all people anymore. You need to macro-down your product and hone in specifically on the unique selling proposition of your product or service. Using DRTV to create a brand and drive retail has been the newest trend to spread the risk and cost, as well as created multiple distribution outlets for products.
Q: Consequently, what changes or advancements do you think the direct response industry may experience moving forward?
A: Interactivity for instantaneous purchases from your phone or TV is next. It’s already happening in some places in limited applications, but will reach the mass of buyers very soon. In production, spots and shows shot in a fully digital format are starting to surpass analog production. Even though most cable channels are not broadcasting in high definition, some are. The networks will be fully digital by next year and many of their affiliates will follow. Of course, the digital look is not great for all products and adds on to the cost of producing a spot or show.