Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just days after Cash4Gold launched with remarkable success in the U.K., Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson agreed to an interview with the editor of a British magazine called Marketing Direct. Marketing Direct is a publication that focuses on the latest issues impacting the direct marketing industry. Below is a copy of the story...

Creatives won't like it but DRTV has a new champion in Cash4Gold's CEO Jeff Aronson

CLIENT IN THE HOTSEAT - First the excitement, then the let down. Cash4Gold's promise to become the UK's biggest DRTV advertiser was followed by what one critic called 'a dinosaur of a DRTV ad'. But CEO Jeff Aronson says it's all part of a well honed plan.

You say you plan to be the UK’s largest DR advertiser – why is this important to Cash4Gold?
The most important thing for Cash4Gold is to let consumers know that the service is available. The only way to achieve that – considering we created this category – is to be largest DR advertiser out there.

Our brand building includes becoming part of pop culture, celebrity events and endorsements but we don’t do any advertising that’s not based on a ROI or CPL (cost per lead) basis.

How does this goal equate with the traditional DM disciplines?

Everything we do has direct response roots. We have an exact game plan – the first UK commercial was the same ad we put out on US and is meant to be very concise in terms of making consumers understand exactly what the product is.

As for being direct marketers, I'm up for Marketer of the Year with one magazine and I was the closing speaker of Response Expo – the largest event in this area – in San Diego last May.

How anglicised will the UK ads become?

We'll do special commercials for the UK that are segmented for the UK. We're always trying to keep the consumer waiting for the next commercial – we don't want the ads to end up without somewhere to go.

Later on we’ll add different commercials to the mix – you’ll see celebrity commercials and animation commercials. We’ll probably do 10-15 commercials [in the UK] throughout the year.

So we’ll see celebrities in your ads? We were beginning to worry we wouldn’t…

You will absolutely see celebrities in the UK commercials. The deals aren’t signed yet – we’re in negotiations with four or five celebrites right now. You might see MC Hammer popping in to say hello.

I can tell you that everyone in the UK will immediately recognise who they are – all people who evoke smiles on UK faces.

How did you make the first UK ad?

The UK ads were done in-house [with media buying by Mike Colling & Co]. The Super Bowl ad was done by Euro RSCG Edge and Arnold Worldwide, and shot by renowned Super Bowl director Brian Buckley.

Cash4Gold's UK debut ad

The ad was panned by the critics – does that bother you?

No! Look at the response levels. The bottom line is number of leads, CPL and efficiency of the ads. I can say the CPL of that ad is half that of other brands' ads. The whole point is to establish leads and educate consumers. The launch has been incredibly successful which means that the ads have been successful.

That first ad was the ‘floor’ commercial we use – you’ll then start to see elevation in terms of creative. The MC Hammer ad was not about CPL – it was a fun commercial that had branding. Our typical commercial will be DR driven but you will see humorous ads with a call to action.

There's a Cash4gold spoof ad on YouTube – isn’t that annoying?

No. If you can’t realize you’ve become so big that people will spoof what you do, you don’t have the right point of view in business. And quite frankly I find some of them funny. [Our Cash4Gold] ad registered as the best Super Bowl ad in terms of ROI.

Why have you chosen this year to aim to being the UK’s largest DR advertiser?

We had such massive growth [in the US] that it was a natural for us to come over here. Being the leader of the category and the largest DR advertiser in the US [meant] it was time to come across the Pond.

There’s a massive segment in society that wouldn’t go to a pawnshop and who prefer doing the transaction from the comfort of their own homes.

So not because there’s a recession on and Cash4gold is a distress sell…

When we started Cash4Gold in the US in 2007, there wasn’t a recession on. Our consumer is skewed to college educated females, who are very busy and don’t have the time to be running around to places selling gold. So we’re not really a recession-driven business - we're a service-driven business.

And TV space is a lot cheaper now…

It doesn’t hurt but if you don’t understand the direct response space, no matter what the cost, you won’t do well. What we do is a very thought-out process.

How will you ensure get value for your media money?

The same way we do it in the US – we are extremely diligent in our metrics. We monitor every cost per lead on every station. Our in-house staff does media monitoring as well as Euro RSCG.

How do you handle the sensitivity around Grandma parting with her rings, only to regret it later?

We offer a 12-day guarantee if, for any reason, there's ‘buyers’ remorse’. If you go to a pawnshop, your material is gone that night. Pawnshops have been integral to the UK for years. We offer a better proposition to UK consumers.

Are you using the UK as a springboard Europe?

Absolutely. There's a variety of different countries we’re looking at. I can’t confirm which ones. You’ll see our next move within two months.

So who are these UK celebrities?

Wait and see. People will say, I can’t believe they used so and so!

Did you recognise them yourself? There are a lot of Z-listers around…

I knew who a bunch of them were. I vetoed a few but I would never tell you who…

You don’t agree with some who say that the day of the celebrity ad is over?

Celebrities are important for us as a differentiation factor creatively. We have done a good job becoming part of US pop culture and a household name, and look forward to doing that in the UK.

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