March 02, 2015

The Rise of 'Feeders'

My latest Field Report for the ERA blog is now live. This month I write about "feeders," a growing source of DRTV hits.

Click here to read the report

February 26, 2015

Frame For Me

Description: A picture frame
Main Pitch: "Turn your child's artwork into a framed masterpiece"
Main Offer:$19.95 for one in black or white
Bonus: 2nd one in same color (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch it on

In the last two days, we’ve had a coloring book for adults and a now a picture frame for children. Does it feel like Opposite Week to anyone else?

Actually, lumping these two projects together in completely unfair. While it may seem contradictory on its surface, a picture frame for kids makes sense while a coloring book for adults does not. The reason is actually pretty obvious: Kids want to be treated like grownups; grownups don’t want to be treated like kids. “Here’s a picture frame for your coloring project, Johnny” makes Johnny feel great. “Here’s a coloring book for you to play with, mom” makes your mom feel insulted.

As basic as that point may seem, some people are missing it. In the Comments section of my Colorama review, an anonymous poster wrote: “[T]hink about what seniors are doing all day … crosswords and coloring and watching TV.” Um, one of those words does not belong in that sentence. Can you tell me which one it is, kids?

S7 Analysis: I think this product and project are a great idea, but I admit that opinion is in defiance of many of my own criteria. This one also lacks some of the typical requirements for kids’ products (e.g. play value) and, to top it all off, faces the challenge of being a pretty unexciting object as well. In summary, this is a total gut call. But gut calls are a proper part of this business so long as they are made in moderation. And if your gut tells you a coloring book for adults is a good idea -- gut calls are not for you.

MXZ Saw: Old Gold?

New Name: Thunder Saw
Starring: Craig Jones
Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Hit Year: 2006 (No. 26 on the JW Annual)
Original Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

From a creative standpoint, this is the right way to attempt to bring back this item. It's one magic demo after another, one-upping even the original creative (available here, albeit in Romanian). The only thing I didn't like about the commercial: All the Aussie cliches, many of which haven't been amusing since Paul Hogan was a celebrity. There was room for a little of that humor, but they really overdid it.

This marketer may have a problem in this regard, a cultural tone-deafness of sorts. (Exhibit B: 2014's Blarney Charm.) Or it may be the problem of trying to walk that line. Without just the right touch, DR humor descends into self-parody. As mass-marketers, we also should not underestimate the sophistication of our audience. They aren't all rubes and children.

The great Claude Hopkins had an exercise where he asked you to imagine selling your product door to door. Updating that, imagine standing at a kiosk in your local mall wearing a big hat and a necklace of crocodile teeth, trying to sell this product using lines out of Crocodile Dundee movies and old Outback commercials. How successful do you think you'd be? How much more successful if you took yourself and your audience a bit more seriously?

S7 Analysis: Back in 2006, a pocket tool that could saw a cinderblock in half was different than anything people had seen before. Today, it seems like less of a novelty. Moreover, tools have become a tough, crowded category. It's also worth mentioning that a product targeted toward men is not targeted toward America's biggest buying group. But if I'm wrong about the first point, the other two won't matter.

Style Stockings

Description: Compression stockings
Main Pitch: "Keep your legs and feet feeling and looking great all day"
Main Offer: $10 for one in choice of 4 patterns
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Watch the spot

Without consumer research, it would be impossible to guess whether the sort of woman who needs compression stockings would find this pitch motivating and these styles appealing. Thankfully, this marketer believes in consumer research, so despite the odd nature of the product, it must have a shot.

Of course, compression garments are nothing new to DR. There must be a dozen copper-infused variations on TV by now (for fun, open the latest Jordan Whitney and count the campaigns that have “copper” in the name), and the success of Ontel’s Miracle Socks (a 2011 True Top Spender) and Telebrands’ Ankle Genie (a 2014 True Top Spender) before the ‘copper explosion’ demonstrated the core concept is also viable.

S7 Analysis: The one I pause on is targeted. This project definitely faces the ‘segment of a segment’ problem. The question is whether that segment is large enough to support a campaign. One thing I know: DR buyers skew older, and older women are the ones who have the problems that are solved by compression stockings. When segmenting, it’s always good to be within the center of the ideal target.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Aqua Chirps. Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "The genuine glass bird that waters your plants for you." Comments: I am too close to this one to comment, but I can give the DR history. Allstar's Aqua Globes was a 2008 hit. A revival of the concept by the same marketer called Canterbury Crystal Globes didn't go in late 2013. Allstar also tried Little Birdie in March 2013. This project is a combination of concepts. (Side note: Blue Moon Studios has produced every commercial cited above.) [ss]
  3. Inject N Clean. Marketer: Hampton Direct. Pitch: "The fast and easy way to sanitize and clean under the carpet." Comments: This site is down, so it's either a monster hit or a 'fast fail.' My money is on the latter. [ss]
  5. Bend N' Bake. Marketer: Will It Launch? Pitch: "Bakes all cakes in all shapes." Comments: No, it probably won't launch because it has been tried twice before without success. (See No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up and No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up). In DR, the third time is rarely the charm. [ss]
  7. My Lil' Warmers. Pitch: "The reusable warming packs that provide instant warmth and relief." Comments: Been there, done that. I always liked the magic, but it wasn't enough to get consumers off the couch. [ss]
  9. Phone Sling. Pitch: "Never has it been so easy to hold, view and control your phone." Comments: Never has there been so many bombs of the same type. Beware the Siren! [ss]