Ethical Issues & Designing for Mass-Market Direct-Response

As IDers, what do you think about the integrity factor (or at times lack thereof) regarding many products offered through DRTV (fitness-for-use, product claims). Generally, it seems better now then it used to be a few years back. Personally I see tremendous potential in the medium while also feeling tremendous disappointment in the way the craft is often practiced. Over reaching product claims, product designs not fit-for-use, etc. While the ability to demo a product visually on TV is a phenomenal way to communicate value - too many take the low road. In my view unnecessarily.

Of the products I have pushed in the direction of market some have fallen into his category, DRTV. It is a hard channel to ignore. Toward that end, I’m always keeping my eyes open for patented mass-market Gizmos with good visual demonstrate-ability of utility and value, and an engaging surprise and delight factor.

Things are better than a few years back?

I’d disagree. I’d say things have stayed the same for about the last 5,000 years. Bogus claims are nothing new and they will never go away. They fit in with death and taxes. My favorite lately has been the Reebok EasyTone. They even had the balls to extend it to a clothing line.

Personally, my feelings about a designer’s integrity are irrelevant. Professionally, I don’t care if you design late-night TV crap, guns, sex toys, real estate derivatives or religious artifacts. I only care if you are capable of doing what I hired you to do.

Maybe its just that I don’t watch TV anymore. Bogus claims in DRTV seem to be more abundant vs. say, brick and mortar.

I think it definitely speaks more to the integrity of the firm the designer works for than it does to the designer him/herself. In general, I assume TV marketed products are fraudulent garbage. I wouldn’t personally solicit that kind of work or accept it if it is based on sketchy claims.

If I read this correctly, other than William’s mention of “product designs not fit-for-use”, “over-reaching product claims” doesn’t have anything to do with the integrity of designers, per se. Those individuals actually marketing the product? Definitely.

That said, my personal take on the direct marketing of hard goods is that it falls into the same category as the Snake Oil Salesman; compelling people to purchase a product for a non-existent need. With regard to the DRTV marketing of footware, apparel, and accessories, where the designer him/her self is on screen supporting the frontman schlepping their wares, of course the designer’s integrity is on the line … but at least they have the cojones to stand up and support their “designs”. I have no problem with that at all.

Of course, being a typical male, I do not “shop”. When I go to a hardware store, tool outlet, or the like I already know what it is that I am after; either by specific brand, or by “use”. If, after inspecting an item, I decide that it is well thought out, well constructed, and if the price is agreeable I buy the item and carry it home with me. Generally I become aware of a product by word of mouth from users, as opposed to “As Seen on TV-type” infomercials.

The “Wait, that’s not all! If you order now, we’ll double your order! All you have to do is pay separate shipping and handling.” hook is another turn-off for me as well. The extra shipping hook makes it obvious (to me anyway) that these folks are making their money on SHIPPING, not the product itself. And are “they” going to be there to replace/warrant the widget fails in forty-two days?

Personal overall impression of the industry; Over-rated. Poor quality. Low price, but expensive to actually have in hand (shipping).

Then again, I have a definite problem with the commercial with a 4x4 drive pick up ripping up a huge tree stump out of the ground as well … but that’s a rant for another day.

Come on, you guys wouldn’t trust this product? You know the designers sweated for months developing this.

just remember anything with a 1800 number and a telephone order line is DRTV and that includes a lot of main line companies such as Black and Decker.

Not generally know about some of the lower end drtv companies that the shipping and handling charge is functionally profit, the item it’s self is a loss leader. Your name and info from the purchase is also of great value and the lists are sold back and forth for a tidy sum. This is no different than what the social network world is doing, in fact that’s where they got the idea on how to moniterize their user base.