IdeaVillage’s recent launch of the MicroTouch Tough Blade shows that consistent messaging—and a well-placed celebrity endorsement—can build brands fast. Made in Germany of Teflon-coated steel, MicroTouch razors rinse cleaner than most multiple-blade razors, allowing them to last longer. IdeaVillage promises that each cartridge will last a month and sells a 12-pack for the low MSRP of $19.95.
One of the original home shopping giants, QVC, turns 30 this month. Marked by innovative products, casual elegance, and a soft sell, the retailer has gone from being an insomniac’s cable companion to the No. 15 e-commerce player in the world. Selling nearly $10 billion worth of clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, electronics, housewares, and other goods every year throughout the world, it isn’t about to slow down.
Once upon a time, direct response marketers could take a specific, innovative item—a pair of polarizing sunglasses, an extra-thirsty shop towel, or what have you—and sell it on its merits. It was one product, one medium, one story—and with all eyes focused on television, one hell of a way to make money.
Each year, ERA Europe stages the Electronic HomeShopping Conference (EHSC) to bring together the movers and shakers of the teleshopping business in the EU and beyond. And while the European show has been growing in recent years, there’s one thing it’s always lacked—an award to recognize excellence in direct response television. “We are a TV-based industry and yet, we don’t have any awards,” laments Julian Oberndöerfer, executive director of ERA Europe.
Direct response advertisers face a number of hurdles in getting the word out about their products, mostly from FTC regulations put in place to protect consumers. But class action lawsuits are a particular source of consternation—not only are they difficult to predict and avert, but some also seem to be filed in search only of profit.
Direct response has earned a place in the culture, making stars out of salespeople and populating television with catchy ads, popular products, and opportunities to shop 24 hours a day. The industry’s personalities have even crossed over into entertainment with reality shows such as Pitchmen and Shark Tank. But only recently did the industry’s inventiveness, entrepreneurial spirit, and sheer pluck get the big-screen treatment.
Based on the life of inventor and HSN host Joy Mangano, David O. Russell’s Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence in the title role as the struggling single mom who invents a self-wringing Miracle Mop that catapults her to home-shopping stardom.
At about the same time the National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA) was forming, a young television executive and Procter & Gamble veteran was helping expand the reach of direct response products. Instead of shooting a quick-money campaign and cashing out, Peter Bieler wanted to build the ThighMaster into a true brand.