Infomercials Get Respect
Last year clients including Crest, Home Depot, and MTV hired Respond2, which boasted billings of $200 million in 2005.
(FORTUNE Small Business) - Madison Avenue has always viewed the infomercial as its sleazy stepchild, a "yell 'n sell" venue for Veg-O-Matics and pocket-sized fishing rods. That was before Tim O'Leary, CEO of Respond2, started pitching the services of his eight-year-old Portland, Ore., production company to classy Fortune 500 clients, a strategy that boosted his firm's billings by 40% over the past two years.
For most of his career O'Leary had focused on niche products such as fitness equipment and household cleaning agents. But when he saw that online advertisers were winning clients by touting their measurable results - with specific information about who was clicking through and which strategies were most effective - he realized that he could make the same claim for direct-response infomercials. The pitch worked: Last year clients including Crest, Home Depot, and MTV hired Respond2, which boasted billings of $200 million in 2005.
Now Respond2 is taking infomercials where they've never been before: MP3 players. The company recently began podcasting samples of classic Johnny Carson Tonight Show monologues to plug the late host's DVD The Ultimate Carson Collection.