Direct Response Marketing

Patrick became the Senior Writer at Continuity Products in 2016. Here he wrote direct response marketing commercials for late night television. It was a chance to learn how to do more than write and build websites. Video editing, sound design, and directing onscreen talent became talents the company used more and more frequently.

Contintuity Product’s original approach was failing. This was in part due to a changing market, including how and where ads were being viewed. A series of legal losses prevented them from using some of their best performing spots. In order to explore a new tone and direction, the first assignment was to create a commercial using stock footage to test the waters regarding new approaches. This spot performed reasonably well at first before dipping slightly. The reason for that is unclear beyond that it may have simply been an initial correction and the spot wasn’t direct enough for its format.

When asked to breathe new life into Lipozene’s struggling late-night advertising, comedian Chip Nicholson was one of the first people Patrick spoke to. Together they created a script designed for late-night audiences using humor to engage and entertain. The spot performed poorly.

What does Chip say about Patrick years later? Find out!

At the onset of the working relationship between Lipozene and the Peetes, Rodney was a bit skeptical. However, following his wife’s enthusiastic involvment, and knowing he had an impending knee surgery, Rodney tried the product and became a big believer. Rodney Peete was kind enough to allow the experience to be the centerpiece of a national ad campaign. The doctor is real, of course, though not Peete’s personal physician.

The results were good but lower than the “Food Truck” spot that began the DR marketing campaign.

This commercial was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Patience had been working with us for more than a year, using Lipozene, losing weight, and periodically coming in for new testimonials. After a year, she’d lost more than seventy pounds, which was a tremendous achievement. The commercial sought to connect with the audience and inspire hope for change.

It performed terribly despite Patience’s testimonial. This may have had to do with the slow opening and triggering content. While Continuity Products saw a success story, the audience may have had a less positive response and turned away.

Following a new clinical study suggesting even greater claims than Lipozene had been previously using, a new DR commercial was rushed into production. Clint Bell was a consumate professional, known for nailing his deliveries in a single take. However, the study results soon fell through and the commercial was pulled.

In order to test the direct effect budget had on sales, Continuity Products would run lower-budget alternatives with the same claims and language in order to see if the same results could be achieved for less. Nadia was a frequent collaborator and a particularly good choice given that she was bilingual. However her spots performed poorly, perhaps because the audience did not connect to her as none of the messaging was personal to her.

The marketing director wanted to see how mimicking weight loss commercials from the post-war era would connect to the audience. This scripts mirrors a commercial from the early 1950’s, making allowances for new legal language. The spot itself sought to engage audiences through a cheerful tone. Ultimately it performed very poorly.

In retrospect, the commercials that performed the best (without celebrity endorsement) had a lot of fast edits, graphics, and claims. They gave the appearnace of authority, which is likely how they drove results. However, at the time, the product was not approved by the FDA and any semblance of authority potentially put the company at risk.

Much of these scripts were predetermined by what few claims legal approved and by the nature of direct response marketing. In order to try to explore new means of bringing call volume back up, this commercial was to explore what inherent value production costs really added to outcomes when a celebrity spokesperson isn’t in front of the camera. The approach also targeted an audience attempting to begin an active lifetsyle.

Ultimately the hoped increase in call volume was not achieved. This may be informed by correlational data that people who are watching TV when these direct marketing ads usually ran were less likely to be physically active during the day. An inability to connect to the scenario may have depressed results.

Rodney Peete and Holly Robinson Peete were chosen for their ability to speak to both the male and female audience. Their spots performed well and the claims were relatively stable for the product, so the work for their campaign was largely creating scenarios and settings that were relatable to the audience.

“Swimsuit Season” was a variation of an older ad campaign at Continuity Products. However, other ads had been filmed using lesser-known talent and typically cost much less. For the higher costs to work film the Peetes, there needed to be a little less seasonality to make the spot more evergreen.

“With swimsuit season always around the corner…” makes a lot of sense when you’re filming a commercial in Beverly Hills. But the national audience didn’t seem to agree. This performed slightly below average for the Peete campaign.

“Cheaters” was an attempt to wake-up married couples watching TV on the couch or in bed. It’s provactive opening captures the audience’s attention in order to help it standout against a barrage of other advertisement. Bright tones and contrast were designed to excite late-night views. The affable and direct manner of the couple was intended to create a rapport with the audience.

This commercial failed to yield the desired results, performing slightly below average. Reasons for this may be the relatively static nature of the cinematography. Many of the high-performing commercials had been high-pressure, and as such the editing provide many cuts, photos, and moving diagrams. It may have been too “low-energy” for those awake during the ad’s air time. Additionally, the younger audience targeted here may simply less trusting of weight loss products than the previous generation.

  • Patrick works behind-the-scenes on direct marketing commercials.
  • Patrick works behind-the-scenes on direct marketing commercials.

Okay, if you made it this far, here’s a special direct marketing treat. Patrick worked to get a Halloween spot on air in 2016, editing it together and placing text where the VO would be. Due to the high price of the media market stemming for the Presidential elections, it was never fully funded. But it captures Patrick’s whimsical, fresh take to familiar material.

Published by Patrick Healy

Writer. Artist. Menace.

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