Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"But Wait, There's More"

When I helped launch a direct marketing company called TelAmerica Media in the mid-'90's, it was my first foray into the world of so-called "Short-Form Direct Response TV". To succeed in our new venture, we wanted to work with the most successful writer/directors in the business. The true patriarch of this art form was Arthur Schiff, owner of a company called Direct Response Associates, a legend I was lucky enough to work with, who passed away this summer at age 66.

The guy was not afraid to make us laugh while he sold us some of the wildest gizmos TV had to offer. Yet he basically "wrote the book" on what fundamental sales elements need to be present to get the phone to ring.

Arthur coined the omnipresent catch phrase "But wait, there's more!" If you look at the product shot in a Ginsu knife offer, you learned how powerful "But wait, there's more" can be.

I will miss running into Arthur at trade conventions, and will allows remember him fondly as "one of the good guys" in this business. Below is a note from Arthur's website.

In the spring of 1978, I was asked to write a direct response commercial for a set of knives. At that time in my career, I had written no more than a half dozen DR spots, but I just couldn't get excited about this project.

"They're knives," I stated with no enthusiasm whatsoever. "Every woman in America has at least three kitchen drawers full of them. What's the big deal?"

"But they don't have drawers full of these knives," came the retort. "It's your job to turn them into something special. Make them sing and dance."

I went to sleep that night, still wrestling with the problem. And then it happened! I bolted out of bed at three o'clock in the morning and yelled, "Eureka! I've got it. Ginsu!" I wrote the bizarre word down on a piece of paper and went back to sleep. When I got up again four hours later, the paper was still there and that strange word was still on it. I stuffed it into my shirt pocket and headed off to work.

Within six weeks, "Ginsu" was a household name throughout the country, and I was pretty much established in my lifelong career. By giving that set of knives a Japanese identity, I somehow managed to convince people that no matter how many knives they already owned, these were something special. Of course, I neglected to mention that the knives were manufactured in Fremont, Ohio.

Times change, products change. Audiences have become more sophisticated and the science of marketing has grown tremendously. Yet, there is a timeless art in creating winners that demands a certain mix of creativity, intelligence and marketing savvy.

Since those early years, I've written and produced over 1500 direct response commercials, most of them through my own company, Direct Response Associates. I've surrounded myself with some of the best DR production people in the industry, and have most of the major direct response TV marketers as clients.

So what can we do for you? We can help you market your product by looking beyond the obvious. By finding the unique approach that makes it stand out. By never forgetting that hidden somewhere in that product may be another Ginsu Knife. We call it The Art of Creating Winners(SM) and we'd like to create one for you.

Arthur Schiff, Direct Response Associates

1 comment:

psalm9567 said...

Don't we ALL know those commercials???? Wow, what a catch phrase!! And another wonderful, made-up word, just like Haagen-Dazs!

Sorry to hear of his passing, Carl.