Blends DRTV, Web

With the success of their latest venture,, Reliant Interactive Media CEO Kevin Harrington and his brother Tim are continuing to blur the line between DRTV and the Internet and create something that will extend past their previous efforts into a solid global brand name.

“You see all those dot-com sites spending millions of dollars on advertising and not getting a big return,” Kevin Harrington said. “Our strategy is to leverage the money we spend on infomercial time to drive our Web site. We literally have no advertising expense.”

Since 1984, the Harringtons have overseen the rise of three companies, directed the introduction of the infomercial into countless foreign countries and pushed the envelope on what products can be sold via DRTV. began as an infomercial called the “Reliant Computer Showcase” with former Home Shopping Network computer sales guru Mel Arthur as host.

“We really came up with the original name for the show, ‘Computer Showcase,’ the day we were set to shoot the infomercial,” Kevin Harrington said.

The showcase helped generate in excess of $1.1 million in its first week of national airing this past September. Realizing they had more than just a great test run, the Harringtons and Arthur saw an opportunity to turn the infomercial into a real brand name.

“In the e-commerce business, you have to have a recognizable name – and after the success of the initial showcase, we realized we really have something here,” Kevin Harrington said. “So we came up with the whole idea of the name and Web site.”

The melding of the As Seen on TV brand name, an attractive site and advanced computer products creates a continuity-driven business that consumers will return to when they need to upgrade their PC products. E-mail will play an important role in this new enterprise as well.

“As we expand, we don’t have to spend money sending out catalogs or fliers. We can alert our customers to sales and new products for free with our e-mail client list,” he said.

Though it’s hard to gauge exactly, when the infomercial and sites debuted in the middle of December, the infomercial was immediately outselling the showcase and the Web site was generating a substantial amount of daily hits.

The brothers started Quantum Marketing, Philadelphia, in 1988. A year later, they were posting sales of $55 million. A year after that, they hit the $85 million mark and decided to expand into the international market.

In 1991, like so many firms that become successful quickly, the Harringtons’ $300-million-a-year Quantum Marketing merged with industry giant National Media Inc., but the brothers agreed to stay on and run the show. They raised stock prices from $1.50 a share to nearly $10 and saw earnings reach nearly $500 million. After their three-year contract expired, they decided to start again with an old friend, The Home Shopping Network, which in 1994, appointed them as minority partners in its new infomercial production division, HSN Direct.

The brothers followed their succeed-at-home, ship-it-overseas philosophy during their time at HSND, and after $85 million from Tony Little’s Ab Isolators, Kevin Harrington was appointed chairman/CEO at Reliant Interactive Media Corp., Clearwater, FL.

Much had changed in the industry from 1988 to 1999, and the brothers realized the challenge had moved to the Internet. But they never lost sight of their DRTV upbringing as they blended the two with their first Web venture, Coupled with an infomercial, the venture earned moderate profits, mostly through retailer purchases of lighters. and a 51 percent stake in followed.

While at HSND, the brothers became acquainted with show-host guru Arthur. A longtime HSN technology host, Arthur provided the perfect fit for the brothers to launch Reliant Computer Showcase; and as their executive vice president, Arthur eyes a future where customers already familiar with can purchase directly from their televisions.

Related Posts