Catalog's Not in the Mail, It's on TV

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A media-buying agency is preparing for the launch of The Catalog Show, an hour-long infomercial that aims to bring the power of catalog marketing on the air through DRTV.

MD Media Group is organizing the effort along with production agency Wideshot Productions, Fort Lauderdale, FL. The first installment of the show, the "Health-e Summer Shape-Up Special," is to launch in June and feature products from various retailers, including Venus Swimwear and Bowflex, centered around the theme of summer fitness.

The show will air 40 to 60 times in a two- to four-week run, said Michael Wojchick, president of MD Media Group, Los Angeles. MD Media has purchased time on national cable and local broadcast channels, as well as the Dish Network, and expects to reach 60 million U.S. households.

Each product gets two to three minutes of airtime on the show. MD Media expects an international launch of the show in the fall.

Though the show will feature a smorgasbord of products from multiple retailers, Wojchick said The Catalog Show will not be done in the fashion of home-shopping channels, where a host showcases a product and speaks its praises while it sits on a table or is worn by a model.

The Catalog Show aims to look like a real television show with products embedded in it. The goal is to have more the feel of The Learning Channel's hit cable show "Trading Places" than HSN, he said.

"The idea is to take the catalog and turn it into a visual medium for television," he said.

Each retailer handles its own fulfillment and displays its own toll-free inbound order number for its products, so MD Media and Wideshot are responsible only for producing and airing the show. MD Media gets paid a flat fee by retailers for placement of their products.

MD Media anticipates eventually creating its own fulfillment service and sharing in back-end efforts for The Catalog Show, Wojchick said.

Catalog-style marketing is a natural for DRTV, Wojchick said. He said he has contemplated creating a DRTV show based around a catalog brand.

"There's a ton of catalogs that could be put on the program," he said. "We could do a whole show with one catalog."

Wojchick said his firm once did a concept show for Eddie Bauer along those lines. Though the show ran only in limited testing, he said the experiment opened his eyes to the possibility of doing a DRTV show with the feel of a catalog.

The Catalog Show's current target is women ages 25 to 35. Follow-ups planned for the "Health-e Summer Shape-Up Special" include shows based on themes including home design and health and beauty.

A Christmas-themed show is planned for the end of the year, Wojchick said. MD Media also plans to pursue a male demographic with shows built around outdoor and sporting goods themes.

"We're going to develop our own programming based on whatever demographic we're going after," he said.

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