DRTV speaker eyes new tech

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Doug Garnett, president of Atomic Direct, a Portland, OR-based full-service direct response TV agency, is speaking at DMA•06 this year. Here's a look at what he expects from the show.

Doug Garnett: In the 1990s, discussion built about the Internet when it was still new technology. Now there is a new generation of technology that I hope to find at the core of DMA discussions. It includes continued refinement of our skills with Internet opportunities - like search engines, online advertising, blogging and reach-out e-mail. But even more exciting, there are new opportunities from video-on-demand advertising, SMS (text message) response, podcasting and more. Otherwise, I expect the DMA conference to provide the usual excellent opportunities for networking with suppliers, potential clients and my peers.

DM News: What's the mood of direct marketing?

Mr. Garnett: I think the mood in direct marketing is excellent. Our industry continues to grow and expand even as traditional advertising faces new challenges from shifting media options. There's no longer any questions about "whether" companies use direct marketing. The questions are now "how much" and "for what purpose."

DM News: What's new with your firm?

Mr. Garnett: Atomic has continued to grow with an excellent set of brand clients (AAA, DuPont). We're pleased that our unique approach to brand DRTV has become meaningful to brands. In addition, we've continued to press on with new media. This past year we released our first SMS response campaign for Limbo 41414.

DM News: Why are traditional agencies failing to use long-form DRTV?

Mr. Garnett: While brand advertisers are wholeheartedly adopting short-form DRTV, they haven't flocked to long form. This is disappointing because short form is a small extension of what they already do. Long form offers a new marketing opportunity by making higher-margin products succeed at retail. But companies stay away from long form for a few reasons. Most companies have trained themselves to avoid products that require complex communication - everything about the marketing mix today emphasizes brevity. However, there is overwhelming evidence that successful complex communication returns much higher profits.

At the same time, our business fights the negative perceptions that come from the outlaws in the DRTV business. Fortunately, consumers see what they see on TV and respond accordingly, so response to our brand long-form work is increasing.

Finally, the long-form business is still suffering from failures in corporate long form in the 1990s, when DRTV agencies thought that "pretty pictures" were all that were needed for good communication and never delivered meaningful messages.

The good news is that as companies become involved with short-form DRTV, they begin to learn how long-form DRTV offers even more benefits.

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