Anton's Direct Talk

Anton's Direct Talk

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ObamaCare Meets the Infomercial?


I have been a "so-called" direct marketing "Guru" since my late twenties. My experience includes bringing many unheard of brands to market and making them into household names selling millions of dollars of innovative new products directly to consumers via a print infomercial concept I pioneered in the 1980's. As I was listening to the snippets of oral arguments from The Supreme Court regarding ObamaCare...  My mind entered "the marketing zone"!



I asked that key question we ask about all new products under review for a possible product launch. Would or should our company/client spend a lot of money or time on testing the product...Will consumers buy the product, keep the product and keep coming back for more?


What if ObamaCare was the product and I was asked to  invest my own money  to produce an infomercial, buy the advertising and sell it directly to consumers...Would I say yes to the ObamaCare test?


Here are a  few key questions  we  ask "before" we start spending a lot of time and/or money launching a new product directly to consumers?


  • Is the product unique enough  to get someone to pick-up the phone and call us?
  • Does the product solve a big enough problem  that enough people will be interested?
  • Can we explain the product  and the selling proposition to our target market?
  • What can we sell the product for   or how much is the target market willing to pay to solve this problem?
  • Can we make money  at that retail sales price?
  • How much can we invest to acquire a new customer  assuming they buy more of our product(s) in the future?
  • Can we deliver the product  without too much operational complexity and cost?
  • Will the product have any returns issues  or product dissatisfaction that kills customer loyalty?
  • Will the product cause any market "blow-back"  that will hurt the brand in the future?
  • Can we sell this with an "honest" presentation  of the products features and benefits and will it be something we will be proud of selling?
  • Will the product survive long term  against market competition for these target customers?
  • Can we test the product cheaply  and quickly enough with consumers "before" we spend too much money and time to see if it is viable?
  • Finally, do we trust and like the people we   will be working with on the project?


So, when analyzing whether we would even "test" the ObamaCare infomercial...I go back to the Supreme Court arguments, the sales presentation of the Solicitor General, the sentiments of the target audience (The American People), the complexity of delivering the product, the ability of people to pay for it, the honesty of the presentation, and the long term survival of the product against free market competition. Finally, I come to a few gut check moments; Do I trust the people I will be working with (politicians and the government) and will my customers (The American People) get the benefits promised in the long run?... Without breaking our bank and theirs!


       ****(With difficulty I share the following: In Memory of My Son Chase)****       


I also come at this with a real world experience/bias of having to rely on government healthcare when I was young and starting a familyMy company was only a few years old and about $15 million in sales at the time and was funded out of my family's limited resources. I had about 50 employees and had made sure everyone had health care coverage through the company (in fact, got the policy from a friend of mine just starting out himself!)...Our first son, Chase, was diagnosed with Leukemia (cancer) at age 2 and our world was turned upside down. 


The insurance was fine until he came out of remission about 1 year later and we were at war with the insurance company trying to get a transplant covered...THEY SAID NO...My company was failing and my child was dying. Out of options I went on The Today Show and in a matter of days friends, family and people from all over the world sent us over $300,000 to pay for the transplant...


Devastatingly, my boy, Chase died of a common infection before we could get him on a private jet (donated by a stranger!) to go get his chance at life in Seattle. We had plenty of insurance and government beauracrats deciding our future and providing no help in the end...In fact, my case had been elevated to Bill & Hillary Clinton's office. And, when we flew our son Chase back to bury him at home...I received a letter from President Clinton expressing his sorrow in our loss...And, a couple years later I saw an internal letter on the Internet to the Clinton's; "Now that the Anton's have lost their son maybe they will help us get healthcare passed..."


I donated all the money I raised to The National  Children's Cancer Society and raised another $500,000 with a golf tournament in memory of Chase for years thereafter. And, my brother made sure the "free market spoke" driving Prudential Health Insurance (who denied Chase his only chance of survival...A Bone Marrow Transplant) out-of-town with the boycott he waged tirelessly in the Richmond news market. Thankfully, insurance companies cover transplants now and the cure rate for leukemia continues to climb...I believe, my boy, Chase, has saved many lives in subsequent years...

__________ _________****(WE LOVE YOU CHASE!)****  ______________________        


I look back on all this years later and say..."How did we get here?" And, I am not prepared to have government or insurance beauracrats make life and death decisions for my family. Somehow we need to  let the free markets be free  like we do when we let consumers vote with their pocket-books when launching a new product to market...And, at the end of the day, the only safety net for all of us is the natural goodness of people who will help a neighbor in need when times get tough...


So, my answer to the  ObamaCare Infomercial Test  is a resounding  NO GO  ...This product doesn't pass the sanity check of the free market that is key to "all" successful direct marketing campaigns, there is no FREEDOM of choice that every consumer demands...  And, ObamaCare is certainly NOT FREE!


Chuck Anton

President & CEO

BrandSeed Group, LLC



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