Thane May No Longer Be Called International, But Deals Show It Is

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Thane Inc., a full-service direct response television company, dropped international from its name in June, but recent developments in the Middle East and Latin America have shown that the company is gaining a large foothold in the world market.

The name change reflects the company's total entrenchment in providing DRTV services worldwide for nearly every product it markets in the United States within three months of its stateside premiere, said Amir Tukulj, president of Thane Direct.

"We are moving on all fronts and expect this to be a spectacular fall and winter season," Tukulj said. "We have four different business models which we use in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. These different parts of the world all have different delivery systems for our shows. Whether it's satellite, cable, achieving partnerships with local operators, we have strived to be able to reach these nations, regardless of how we do it."

This growth is reflected in a media-buying program in Latin America called PanLatinoTV, which has signed more than 20 clients in three months, while the company has just become the only North American DRTV marketer to sell its wares on TV in the Middle East.

In an agreement with LLC, Laguna Hills, CA, Thane established the PanLatinoTV media-buying organization, covering all of Latin America, and signed its first 16 distribution clients in three weeks. These 16 clients represent 17 countries and cover 99 percent of the cable households in Latin America.

The companies also have just announced that they have signed new media contracts with several major regional networks in Latin America, including Canal Fox, Fox, Sports America, USA, Discovery and ESPN.

"It is almost impossible to go into Latin America and individually buy media time. With the system we have, we can offer distributors the availability to sell to 17 different countries simultaneously," Tukulj said. "Because they are cable households, you are also getting people with the most disposable income."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Thane recently found itself the only DRTV marketer in the Middle East.

"We had one competitor there, who recently dropped out of the market," Tukulj said. "It is a different market than most others because some of the shows will work there and some will not. For example, the California tan isn't going to go over big there, but certain products like exercise machines can.

"There are governmental regulations we have to deal with as well, such as toning down a spot because it has too much skin, and we don't even put Web addresses on the shows because many of these countries either don't allow general access or in order to get connected have to call long-distance providers."

Despite the lack of Web addresses, Tukulj said, one of the surprising developments has been the number of people from Saudi Arabia who visit the Web site. Saudi Arabia is second only to the United States in visitors per month, and he sees this as an indication that people there are using the Web site for information, its primary purpose.

"These people can buy the product at retail, because we have a strong presence in most or all of these countries," Tukulj said. "They cannot order from the site because we will only accept domestic U.S. orders, but still they come."

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