Although he still hasn't bought an ab cruncher or dialed the Psychic Friends Network, Mr. Bray, 46, said he's seen more infomercials in the past month than he'd seen in his entire life.
IN CHARGE AT NIMA
As the newly appointed president-CEO of NIMA International, the association of electronic retailers formerly known as National Infomercial Marketers Association, Mr. Bray is charged with boosting an industry group in a time of tremendous change in the direct-response marketplace.
The $4 billion industry includes infomercial, TV shopping and short-form direct-response companies as well as other interactive media marketers that sell directly to consumers.
Coming from a 17-year stint at the Food Marketing Institute, most recently as senior VP, Mr. Bray is ready for a new challenge.
"When I started at the FMI, the food industry was on the threshold of significant technological changes and advances," he said. "Electronic retailing is on that cusp right now, so I was looking for an opportunity to take a leadership role in helping to transform an industry."
NIMA, like FMI headquartered in Washington, has already targeted areas of potential growth for the industry: the corporate sector, international venues and interactive media.
Mr. Bray assumes his position today and will be attending the direct-response TV industry's annual DRTV Expo & Conference, to be held in Long Beach, Calif., later this week.
LOOKING AT OPPORTUNITIES
"The board has asked Charlie to first make an assessment of our opportunities in the marketplace," said Greg Renker, president of infomercial company Guthy-Renker, Palm Desert, Calif., and NIMA chairman. "His vision will help NIMA to build bridges connecting similar businesses and ultimately growing the industry-internationally, domestically and in the corporate arena."
Advertisers including Apple Computer, Philips Electronics, Toyota Motors Sales USA and Microsoft Corp. have all used infomercials. And many other Fortune 500 companies are experimenting with them.
"The primary mission for any association is to find the most effective way to represent and grow the industry," Mr. Bray said. "That includes looking at the needs and desires of large corporations as well as small entrepreneurial start-ups."
As president of NIMA, Mr. Bray will also focus on administration, financial and trade show management, membership marketing and consumer education. He succeeds Helene Blake, who becomes VP-membership marketing and education.
"Associations are my passion," he said. "I believe strongly in what they can do-be a forum of exchange and networking that helps tackle the hard issues of business and serves as a leading educator for the members and the public they serve."