November 25, 2015

In the News: Peek-A-Boos

Adweek reports that Ty Inc., the creator of Beanie Babies, just made its first-ever TV spot for a new line of products:

The new plush toys, called Peek-A-Boos, show you how completely—some might say how depressingly—smartphones have come to dominate children's play. The Peek-A-Boos aren't so much toys as toy holders. They're designed to hold phones upright so kids can play on them more easily. (They also have a microfiber bottom that doubles as a screen cleaner.)

The commercial is from Leo Burnett and is noted for its "stick-in-your-head tune ... that features the product name being repeated over and over." You can watch/listen here.

I have a few observations. First, I don't understand why Ty would wait until now to jump into the plush space? As the article reminds us, "Beanie Babies, introduced in 1991, were once the hottest toys in the world." So the original plush-toy master sat back and watched our industry make millions and millions of dollars in their space, completely saturating the market, and then decided to jump in? I know traditional companies move slow, but that's glacial. Pillow Pets presented as a monster item in 2010.

Maybe the strategists at Ty think that now the market has cleared and is ready for them. If so, I disagree with them. From what I'm seeing and hearing, we're at the shallow end of the 'long tail' with most major retailers pretty sour on the category.

Second, this product combines the No. 1 (phone/tablet accessories) and No. 2 (plush toys) worst categories for DRTV. Of course Ty is going to run a traditional brand advertising campaign and (one assumes) get placement outside of our areas of the store. They also have a very cheap, impulse price and kids aren't the main reason phone accessories fail. Still, the information isn't worthless. I've already covered the situation with plush, and the main reason phone accessories fail is because the category is super-crowded.

Third, this goes to show that copying isn't unique to our industry. We just perfected it. That is, there is nothing original about this product or creative. In fact, it borrows heavily from what has already been done by DRTV players. The "stick-in-your-head tune" that repeats the product name "over and over"? Been there, done that. Clever holders for your phone? We have 20. Even the melody to their song isn't original. It did immediately stick in my head -- to the point where I started humming it shortly after hearing it. Then I realized what I was really humming was Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On."

All of that said, the product is simple, inexpensive and should have enough support to sell fairly well. There's just nothing special about it from our perspective.

November 24, 2015

SciMark Report from November Response

My SciMark Report in print for November is now available on the Response Website.

This month I write about Top Dog's BeAligned, Ontel's Crystal Smooth and Telebrands' PedEgg Magic Slippers.

Coming Soon

In the upcoming December issue, I'll round out the year with a first: two duels in a single category at the same time ... and one is a triple duel! If you thought the competition in our industry got out of hand this year, you ain't see nothin' yet.

November 19, 2015

Simply Straight

Description: A ceramic straightening brush
Main Pitch:"Combines the power of a flat iron with the gentle styling ability of a brush"
Main Offer: 2 pay of $19.99
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Blue Moon
Watch the spot

From what I can tell, women really like this concept. On the other hand, the history of this category isn't very promising -- at least in short form. What's most interesting to me is the price point. In an upcoming piece for the ERA blog, I'll be talking about this trend toward higher prices. In a reversal from the years of the "Great Recession," it seems the impulse price barrier may be heading north for the first time in a long time.

S7 Analysis: From a product perspective, this one checks all the boxes. It gets its highest marks for being different. The creative also meets or exceeds all of the S7 criteria -- even when it comes to the price because the VALUE is good compared to other products in the category. That's an important point to keep in mind when evaluating this new 'higher prices' trend.

Jitter Critters

Description: A dog toy
Main Pitch: "Interactive motion and sound dog toy will keep him busy for hours"
Main Offer: $10 for "Rockin' Raccoon"
Bonus: "Frenzy Fox" (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Watch the spot

Was Telebrands' 2010 hit Crazy Critters an outlier? Following my rule of three, the answer is heading toward "outlier." The no-squeak version of Crazy Critters -- 2013's Hushies -- failed.

On the other had, this borrows a few lessons from Wobble Wag Giggle Ball, a rollout this year from Allstar/Lenfest. It could be viewed as a cross between that hit and the aforementioned hit. Does one past hit plus one present hit equal one future hit? I guess we'll find out.

S7 Analysis: Much like toys for kids, toys for pets always fail the needed question and usually pass the different test. That's the case here, although I wonder if the recency of Wig Wag diminishes the perception of difference.


Description: A peeler
Main Pitch: "Ever sharp dual-sided blades cut your prep time in half"
Main Offer: $10 for one with recipe book
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Watch the spot

In 2009, Tristar's Titan Peeler dueled with SAS Group's Samurai Speed Peeler and won (although both made the charts). In October 2014, Ontel brought back the Speed Peeler design with a new twist: dual-sided blades. They called it Miracle Peeler, and the commercial starred Marc Gill. Soon thereafter, Tristar made it a duel by bringing back the Titan Peeler with the same new twist, calling it the Titan Peeler Pro.

From what I can tell, neither item went very far. To further complicate things, IdeaVillage and Vince Offer teamed up around that same time to try another, similar peeler called Da Vinci Pro. In addition to offending a lot of viewers, it also failed.

One year later, Ontel is trying Tristar's item, which doesn't make very much sense to me. This is essentially the same product, same creative and same price with a lesser offer.

S7 Analysis: The three tests in 2014 demonstrated that while different, a dual-sided peeler isn't needed. Even the point of difference may not be enough these days given the original Titan Peeler still sells and is a great, quality item.