Commercial production house doing infomercials

At least one Toronto tv commercial production company has already begun jockeying to position itself as an infomercial specialist.Damast Gordon & Associates is in the process of establishing a separate division that will focus on producing direct response ads ranging in...

At least one Toronto tv commercial production company has already begun jockeying to position itself as an infomercial specialist.

Damast Gordon & Associates is in the process of establishing a separate division that will focus on producing direct response ads ranging in length from ‘two-minutes to 30 minutes,’ according to director Boris Damast.

Damast, a former creative director with McKim Baker Lovick/BBDO, teamed up with director Steve Gordon in 1992 to form Damast Gordon, which is 50% owned by another Toronto production company, Derek Vanlint & Associates.

Damast says he is holding ‘discussions’ with two directors and a producer, all three of whom he hopes to bring on as key employees in the new venture.

Each of the potential hires has developed an expertise in infomercials, says Damast, adding he views the infomercial format as distinct from traditional advertising and believes the skill required to successfully produce one is are also quite different from those called on to produce traditional tv spots.

Gordon says the new unit will aim at landing contracts for high-end infomercials, leaving the low-budget, low-quality productions for other companies.

‘Our philosophy [at Damast Gordon] is to do good quality work and that’s what we want to take from here into infomercials,’ he says.

Many u.s. infomercials incorporate three-dimensional characters and well-developed plot lines, making them quite similar, from the point of view of production, to half-hour sitcoms.

Gordon says he hopes the new division will be successful in landing work in this area as well as in more linear, product-sell infomercials.

Gordon says Damast Gordon is making the leap into infomercials in order to take advantage of job possibilities in the u.s., where infomercials are big business, and to prepare itself for expected regulatory changes in Canada.

Currently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has rules in place that effectively prevent broadcasters from running infomercials during day and evening hours, leaving open only the least desirable time slot between midnight and 6 a.m.

As a result, Canadian advertisers – with a few notable exceptions including Loblaw, Ford of Canada and Midas – have largely steered clear of the infomercial format.

But the crtc is in the middle of reviewing its policy on infomercials and could, conceivably, create a wide-open marketplace.

Many industry observers believe that if that happens, there will be a surge of production for the Canadian market.

But not everyone is sanguine about the future of infomercials.

Don McLean, president of The Partners’ Film Company, notes that, according to statistics he has come across, the failure rate for infomercials is tremendously high, upwards of 90%.

McLean says even if some infomercials do exceedingly well, the high failure rate is likely to cause more advertisers to play it cautious.

To date, Partners’ has not been involved in infomercial production. But that could change because McLean is considering a proposal in which Partners’ would shoot, for a portion of the future earnings, a golf instruction video and accompanying infomercial.

As well, McLean says Industrial Artists, a Partners’ company in the u.s. that is beginning to specialize in interactive TV, was recently approached about shooting interactive infomercials.