[OPINION] Field Report: During a Famine, Remember the DRTV Feasts

by Jordan Pine on Jun 2, 2015 3:00:00 AM DRTV

During_a_Famine_Remember_the_DRTV_Feasts-259106-editedThe statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.

It seems my last post, a foray into psychiatry, was mutually therapeutic. As a result, I’ve decided to continue in the same vein. From what I’m hearing in the DRTV field, marketing professionals are most in need of some good counseling these days. Two recent comments make the point.

From a producer: “The spot [failed] ... but then again so did every other one. Please tell me we will get through this?!”

From a media manager: “Everything is bombing and the clients want to know why ... The truth is we don’t know why. By now, response should be improving.”

Welcome to the famine portion of our feast-or-famine business. The late, great Billy Mays put it best:

“Ultimately, we are all at the mercy of the consumer,” and American consumers can seem more fickle than the Roman mob at times. Right now the mob is not favoring us, but that will change … and then change again.

History is my preferred coping strategy. At times like these, I think back to the last economic downturn. When it hit, every non-DRTV advertiser pulled back in a big way, leaving networks with tons of airtime they had to sell at bargain prices. At the same time consumer demand, a lagging economic indicator, remained strong. If anything, new money fears related to the crisis made our value-priced products look even more attractive. It was a perfect storm.

Curiously, this sort of environment creates the exact opposite of the psychological effect we are seeing now. Whereas fatalism tends to prevail during periods of weak response, irrational exuberance predominates during periods of strong response. An example is this newsletter quote from one of the leaders of the aforementioned bacchanal, circa 2008:

At a time when sales in most categories are stagnant or in decline, TV items are bucking the trend and generating huge sales numbers—even when they break the rules for traditional DRTV success … Turn on a major cable network like Fox News, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. It seems there are more DRTV ads these days than traditional ads.

The author’s conclusion: 2009 would be the beginning of “the age of the super hit,” a time when mega-sellers such as TeleBrands’ Ped Egg would be the rule and not the exception. There was even a fancy Venn diagram demonstrating the inevitability of this trend. In reality, 2009 was the beginning of the end of that particular feast. By 2010, I can remember clinging to a single example that good CPOs can still be possible.

Since then, of course, we’ve seen many other feasts (e.g., the 2013 hose wars) and now, perhaps, another famine. There’s nothing to do except be prepared to maximize the next big opportunity that’s coming—just as soon as we regain the mob’s favor.

Photo by Jomphong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Jordan Pine is a consultant specializing in short-form DRTV and the author of the industry blog The SciMark Report.

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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.