4 Story Marketing was founded by Cort Howell, one of the most successful independent infomercial marketers and producers of all time with campaigns generating over $2 BILLION in sales.
Born and raised in the shadow of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, and as the son of ubiquitous character actor Hoke Howell, Cort seemed destined for a career in film production. It was his entrepreneurial streak combined with a talent in creative writing that ultimately led him to a career in advertising and direct response television.
1987 – 1989: Infomercial Pioneer
While still in college, Cort was exposed to the infomercial industry in its infancy while working for one of the original pioneers of the infomercial business, Donald D. Lewis Advertising. These were the days of seminar-style real estate shows when the fundamentals of media buying and profitability were much the same as they are today.
1990 – 1994: Early Success
Upon graduating California State University, Northridge with a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film, Cort became a full-time copywriter and producer at Don Lewis Advertising. Cort quickly ascended to Creative Director and gained valuable experience in a wide range of advertising disciplines including traditional TV, print and radio as well as direct response short form and infomercials. Clients included Earl Scheib Auto Painting, Pritikin Longevity Centers, and Jenny Craig. Cort’s earliest infomercial successes included housewares, business opportunities, and weight loss.
1994 – 1997: Expanding Opportunities
In 1994, Cort became a freelance writer/producer specializing in infomercials for a variety of clients from coast to coast. Products were in a variety of categories including fitness, beauty, automotive, self-improvement, wealth building, and more.
1997 – 2000: Reinventing the Infomercial
Eventually Cort found himself working exclusively for one of the heavyweights in the infomercial industry: e4L/Quantum Television/National Media. Given the opportunity to break away from the yell-and-sell approach that had become the stigma of the industry, Cort reinvented the infomercial format by combining creativity—dramatic show opens, special effects, MTV-style editing, and sophisticated music and sound design—with DR fundamentals to create an unprecedented string of successful fitness infomercials including Fitness Flyer, Bruce Jenner’s Zero-G Strider, Fit-n-Fold Strider, Susan Powter’s Give Me Five, Cyclone Crosstrainer, and Body By Jake Ab Rocker.
2001 – 2009: Billion-Dollar Brands
Cort’s reputation for producing high-grossing infomercials led to the creation of Cort Howell Productions and seemingly unending opportunities with the biggest and best players in the industry.
When fitness company Beachbody was still in its infancy, Cort created their first successful infomercials for Tony Horton’s Power 90, Slim in 6, and Turbo Jam, with combined sales of nearly a half billion dollars. Beachbody recently announced its annual sales have topped $1 billion.
Teaming up with Guthy-Renker, Cort produced six consecutive successful infomercials for Winsor Pilates, a series of fitness DVDs. This long-running brand featured a cavalcade of celebrity testimonials including Daisy Fuentes, Danny Glover, Elle Macpherson, Minnie Driver, Rachel Hunter, Melanie Griffith, Stefanie Powers, Virginia Madsen, and many more, running for nearly a decade and generating more than $500 million in sales worldwide.
Add to that numerous successful long and short form DRTV campaigns for products such as Zap! (cleaning product), Restore 4 (cleaning product), Minute Groom (pet product), RotoZip Spiral Saw (hardware), AutoLock (automotive anti-theft device), and Bullet Express (kitchen product), and you understand why The Jordan Whitney Report named Cort one of the most influential producers in the infomercial industry.
2009 – 2013: Zumba Fitness Revolution
In 2009, Cort teamed up with Zumba Fitness to re-launch an infomercial Cort had previously produced for Guthy-Renker. The infomercial didn’t fit the Guthy-Renker profitability model and had been put on the shelf for two years. At Cort’s suggestion, Zumba re-acquired the rights to the product and infomercial. Cort’s team re-tested and rolled out the show, managing all aspects of the campaign. The show quickly hit #1 on the infomercial charts and the resulting television exposure put Zumba’s overall business growth into overdrive. During the next three years, Zumba not only cashed in big on DRTV sales of its infomercial products, they also grew their overall business that included a massive network of Zumba fitness instructors by 750% and was named Inc. Magazine’s 2012 Company of the Year with an estimated value of more than $500 million.
2014 – present: 4 Story Marketing
After relocating to Carmel, Indiana, Cort established 4 Story Marketing to provide creative consulting in addition to full-service television and video production. 4 Story was instrumental in assisting beauty brand Murad to recharge its television marketing prior to successful acquisition by Unilever.