ERA started the new year strong by marking its 25th anniversary during The Great Ideas Summit in January. What better way to commemorate this historic occasion than with a party attended by ERA’s many loyal and longstanding members?
Originally the brainchild of nine founding companies, ERA launched in 1990 as the National Infomercial Marketing Association (NIMA), after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began investigating the product claims of several infomercials that had been airing since the late 1980s. Direct response was still in its infancy, and no trade association existed to defend its interests.
In May 1990, Jeff Knowles, partner at Venable LLP, and Synchronal, the largest DR company at the time, asked Guthy-Renker, LLC, founders Greg Renker and Bill Guthy to testify before Congress at a hearing investigating the business in Washington, D.C. At the time, the U.S. government wasn’t questioning just the industry’s product claims, but the direct response format as a whole. Renker ultimately spoke on behalf of the association. While some companies feared the worst from the Congressional hearings, ERA’s nine pioneering companies took a pre-emptive approach. Knowles led the effort by assembling the original group of founders, including: Doug Bornstein, B&L Marketing; David Chaladoff, David Chaladoff & Associates; Tim Hawthorne, Hawthorne Direct; Tom Fenton, Synchronal; Kevin Harrington, Quantum Marketing; Nancy Marcum, Media Arts/National Media; Greg Renker, Guthy-Renker, LLC; Gene Williams, Power Media Marketing Group; David Marsh, American Telecast; and himself. Thus, the National Infomercial Association (NIMA) was formed in August 1990.
By 1997, NIMA had grown and evolved into the Electronic Retailing Association. Today, ERA boasts nearly 400 member companies. It has survived and thrived for 25 years thanks to its members and their desire to move the industry forward despite whatever obstacles lie ahead—whether they are economic, technological, or legislative.
We continue to champion self-regulation, advocate on the industry’s behalf on Capitol Hill, and provide marketers with the resources they need to acclimate to the digital marketing landscape—all while staying true to our roots.
ERA may have kicked off the festivities at The Great Ideas Summit, but the celebration has just begun. Our team has many surprises planned for the 2015 ERA D2C Convention, set for Oct. 6–8, beginning with the opening party and ending with a special 25th anniversary tribute during this year’s Moxie Awards Gala.
ERA is pulling out all the stops in 2015, and I know you’ll want to be there to help us celebrate.