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DRTV: There's Method in the Madness

by Dave Miller, Miguel Ferry  |  
November 16, 2010

In this article, you'll learn how...

  • To create a powerful DRTV creative by following proven DRTV principles
  • The best TV-commercial parodies offer pointers for DRTV success

Have you seen the direct-response television (DRTV) spot for Hoveround Scooters? At first, you're not sure if it's for real.

It features elderly people in matching outfits cruising around in unison to some annoyingly bouncy jingle. It's as if they are in some kind of surreal, retro-crazed High School Musical number—only they are old and on scooters.

To top it off, the spokesperson/owner of the company is named Tom Kruse (not to be confused with Tom Cruise, the actor).

Yet it is a real commercial, and despite the ultra-corny and arguably mocking portrayal of the elderly, it's strikingly effective. The more we watch it, the more ingenious we think it is. It could be the best DRTV spot since "Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up" became the catchphrase of the early '90s.

The wackiness of the Hoveround spot spot got us thinking about how some of the funniest comedy skits have been spoof TV spots—and how closely they follow proven DRTV principles to make their sketch more believable and more poignant.

Take notice. Great DRTV spots do several things extremely well: They grab your attention; they frame a problem that needs to be solved; they state their offer as the solution; they show the product in use; and they ask for the order—a lot.

Follow those rules with your next DRTV creative, and you'll have gotten further than most marketers ever get.

What makes the best TV-commercial parodies so funny is how closely they follow traditional direct-response recipes for success. Minus a few quirks, they are textbook examples of how to get great results.

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Dave Miller is a copywriter for Philadelphia-based TPG Direct (, a full-service direct-marketing agency and part of Omnicom Group's national network. He can be reached at and 215-592-8381.Miguel Ferry is the creative director for Philadelphia-based TPG Direct (, a full-service direct-marketing agency and part of Omnicom Group's national network. He can be reached at and 215-592-8381.

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