Reinvention

A. Eicoff & Company has reinvented itself a number of times in its history.

This may come as a surprise, since the agency has been remarkably consistent in its focus on television advertising for measurable results. Yet we’ve changed despite this focus. In fact, reinvention has been what’s allowed us to survive and thrive for more than 50 years.

Alvin Eicoff reinvented the DRTV business by introducing the 800 number in direct response commercials. Ron Bliwas reinvented the business again by broadening our client base and demonstrating that all sorts of offers could sell well via direct response.

The first reinvention that I was part of took place in the ‘80s. We recognized that Fortune 500 companies were becoming interested in DRTV and that an opportunity existed for us to capitalize on that interest. Prior to this, many of our clients were smaller, entrepreneurial companies. But things were changing. Cable stations were proliferating—more time slots were available for DRTV and greater opportunities to target specific markets. In addition, advertisers were starting to demand greater accountability from their television spots, and DRTV provided it. 

So we started talking to Fortune 500 companies. They wanted results, but they also wanted high production values, creative that dovetailed with their other spots and a different media buying strategy than we were used to. Could we go from the king of the hard sell pitch to being the master of image-conscious, results-driven advertising?

It took some rethinking of our basic concepts, some testing and some new hires, but eventually we successfully translated the Eicoff way into Fortune 500 terms.

In the following years, a number of additional reinventions took place, including:

•Establishing DRTV as a viable strategy for retailers (Sears and Rent-A-Center).

•Developing proprietary media-buying software (Core Direct) that provided breakthrough efficiency and effectiveness.

•Overcoming decades-old obstacles to medical advertising by originating Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical DRTV spots.

•Integrating URLs into DRTV commercials.

•Creating an analytic protocol for tracking web traffic generated by DRTV.

•Making DRTV an effective approach for the Medicare reimbursement category.

•Pioneering text-to-respond via DRTV.

The strange thing is that despite all this reinvention, we adhere to many of the same principles that Alvin Eicoff established when he launched the agency. If he were around today, Al would love the creative that still motivates viewers to call or click and he would relish the media strategy that cherry-picks the absolute best slots for a given offer at the best prices. 

So we’re the same, but different. That’s the paradox of reinvention—we’re creating a new agency continuously but retaining the foundation of who we are.

Bill McCabe is the President/CEO at A. Eicoff & Co., one of North America’s largest DRTV agencies.