Huge DRTV Hits and Why They Worked!

By Rob Medved, CEO, Cannella Media

Direct-response television (DRTV) is a proven way to reach consumers and motivate action. Through DRTV, you can position your product, tell your stories, evoke emotion, convey the key benefits, include testimonials, show before and after results, and build rapport with your viewers.


Why do some DRTV commercials stand out as winners in this highly competitive marketplace? Reviewing three memorable campaigns can help shed light on critical elements that can help you drive success.



Developed by two dermatologists in a kitchen in 1995 and now with over 20 million dedicated users worldwide, Proactiv  has made its mark on the skincare industry by including celebrity spokespeople in each campaign. The brand chooses celebrities who are prominent in the public eye at the time of launch. Campaigns have featured celebrities such as Adam Levine, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, and Lindsey Lohan, among many others.


Proactiv’s formula is simple and effective. Each commercial (infomercials and short-form spots) features a celebrity discussing their skin issues and the insecurity these blemishes have caused. The viewer then learns about Proactiv’s three-step system, which helps eliminate acne, pimples, and breakouts and keeps skin looking smooth and blemish-free. Finally, the creative wraps with the celebrity revealing their successful journey with Proactiv and encouraging the audience to try the brand’s skincare products. This creative strategy does three key things; 1) it gets viewers to stop and watch the celebrity; 2) it creates a credible third-party testimony; 3) it allows for the visual “incredible transformation” that acne sufferers are looking for.


Featuring a well-known and loved celebrity and providing a simple solution to a problem that many have, along with a call to action, has been extremely successful for Proactiv. In fact, according to Bloomberg, Proactiv’s direct-to-consumer infomercial strategy has helped build this billion-dollar brand.


The acne treatment and prevention brand did not always put this much faith in DRTV. Like many brands, they didn’t view direct selling via television in a positive light. It was not until the product was licensed to Guthy-Renker, a direct response television behemoth, that the first Proactiv infomercial, featuring Judith Light, rolled out successfully in October 1995.


According to CNBC, the PedEgg has been one of the most successful products for TeleBrands, a major “as seen on TV” product marketer. TeleBrands has marketed dozens of products generating hundreds of millions in sales every year, but few have done quite as well as the PedEgg.


The success of the dead foot skin remover is because TeleBrands chooses to promote products that fit a specific yet simple profile: products that solve everyday mass-market problems at a low price point. The PedEgg commercial starts by demonstrating all the issues that arise from having cracked feet. This includes rips in stockings and the inability to wear sandals because of unsightly feet. This creative strategy brings in the mass market audience that identifies with this problem. Visualizing the problem helps consumers relate on a personal level. It also elicits a negative emotion tied to the problem. Next, the creative introduces the PedEgg, a simple solution to this mass-market problem. They easily demonstrate how the tool works and differs from traditional pedicure tools providing a unique solution that offers a quick, safe, and sanitary experience that makes sense in an “aha” type moment. To help engage the audience further, three average women try the device, using it on their feet and talking about their positive experiences. This helps viewers identify with people like them.


Finding a unique, provable solution to a mass-market problem is fundamental in TV direct marketing. Building high perceived value with the audience and offering the product at an exceptional price is key to creating an impulsive response.


Although most successful direct response television creatives air for a few years, the PedEgg sold well on television for at least five years, proving that the right product paired with a strong direct response television strategy can lead to enormous success.



First launched in 2008, the Snuggie does one simple thing, and it does it well: it keeps the user warm while still giving them mobility with their arms, unlike traditional blankets.


As Cornell University notes, the Snuggie is not the first product of its kind. In fact, a similar product, the Slanket, had existed for years before Snuggie’s massive success. Many look-a-like products have remained on the sidelines, watching their counterparts go on to grand success via well-executed positioning and marketing strategies. The Snuggie commercial begins by clearly presenting the problem: the temperatures are cold, and blankets just aren’t up to the job when it comes to staying warm while moving around. The creative immediately rolls into the differentiating solution: The Snuggie blanket with sleeves lets people make coffee, change the channel, talk on the phone, work, or snuggle with kids and pets, all without having to be exposed to the cold air or have a blanket fall off while moving around.


The Snuggie commercial isn’t anything special. Like all good marketing efforts, the creative presents a problem and then reveals a product that offers a simple, unique solution. So, what makes Snuggie so successful over other competitors? The reason for Snuggie’s massive growth via infomercials was because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a simple item – a blanket with sleeves. But the lack of seriousness and a genuine solution that makes sense helped the product explode beyond late-night television into the mainstream and become a massive gift and holiday-giving favorite.


No one really needs a blanket with sleeves. A sweatshirt or a sweater does that job just fine. Playing into the novelty and riding the press waves, the Snuggie has become a massively successful direct response icon.

Reach New Audiences with Direct Response Television Commercials

These three products are just a glimpse into the hundreds of multi-million-dollar brands that have been created via the power of direct response advertising. Whether through celebrity endorsements, amazing transformations, genuine testimonials, or simple solutions that just make sense, direct response television campaigns have generated millions, if not billions, for these brands and thousands more. Following the formula of presenting an everyday problem and positioning the product as the simple solution is the root of successful DRTV creatives.


For brands striving to reach more consumers and ignite sales, DRTV may hold the key.