December 11, 2014

Micro Max

Description: A small LED flashlight
Main Pitch: "Turns any ordinary 9-volt battery into a powerful flashlight"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (free)
Brand: Bell + Howell
Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

This is a neat little gizmo, but it uses a less-common battery type (9 volt) and lacks perceived value. It is also a light, and lights of all kinds have a bad track record on DRTV. Undettered, Emson has tested at least three other products featuring LEDs in the last two years alone: Torch Lite, Super Nova Lantern and Ultra Bulb.

S7 Analysis: While this product is certainly different from other lights on the market, it is a novelty that isn't really needed. Flashlights of all sizes are sold for cheap prices at every retail store, so unless someone has to have the "world's smallest" (as the commercial claims) or absolutely loves the gimmick, they are unlikely to buy this for the typical reasons lights are purchased.

Runway Blowout Brush

Description: A hair styling brush
Main Pitch: "Get volume, bounce and healthy shine and salon results at home"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with 3 large & 3 small brushes plus 6 clips
Bonus: Travel pouch (free)
Starring: Maria McCool
Marketer: Tristar
Watch it on

Women spend a lot of money to get their hair blown out, so if they believe this promise, the project will do well. That said, hair is a 1 in 50 category, so the odds are not in favor of this rolling out.

S7 Analysis: The big challenge with any hair item is: a) creating the perception that the product is needed, and b) fighting for attention in a very crowded category.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. PressTastic. Pitch: "The fast, easy way to steam, crease and wrinkle release right on the hanger." Comments: I like this one a lot. The DR history is promising (a similar item called Steam Buddy was a 2008 hit), the commercial and demos are excellent, and the offer is very strong. That's all the right ingredients for DR success. [ss]
  3. BedRenu. Pitch: "Restore your old mattress to better than new." Comments: This is the Furniture Fix idea applied to beds. Not a bad idea: Furniture Fix was a 2011 and 2012 True Top Spender. Let's see if there's a category here. [ss]
  5. CoverAge. Starring: Jerome Alexander. Pitch: A "unique under-eye concealer and treatment all in one." Comments: In terms of driving a CPO, cosmetics don't work in short form. Of course, there may be another strategy at play here. [ss]
  7. HydroMousse. Marketer: Eagle Eye. Pitch: "Grass grows where you spray it." Comments: This campaign first hit the airwaves in April and spent 22 weeks on the Jordan Whitney before the season ended. Needless to say, I'm just posting for posterity. [ss]
  9. Neater Scooper. Pitch: "The cleaner, smarter scooper that neat cats love." Comments: Pooper scoopers are near the top of my list of bad categories, and I have to lump in (get it?) cat poop scoops as well. True, Sift 'N Toss should have failed if this rule were iron-clad (it was a 2011 True Top Spender), but like the 1996 hit Quicksand, it eliminated the scoop altogether. Footnote: Quicksand itself failed to make a comeback in 2010. [ss]

December 05, 2014

Corrections & Clarifications

The SciMark Report is committed to responsible journalism, so I am starting a new feature today that will address any errors, omissions and so on that appear on the blog. My readers are my ombudsmen, and I hear from them whenever I make a mistake. In the past, I have merely corrected blog posts online with an editor's note. However, since most people read the blog in the form of an email newsletter, this new feature will give those corrections the same publicity the original, incorrect information received.

For my inaugural post, I have THREE mea culpas to make. Ouch!


1. In my post about Clever Light (since updated), I accused Kerrmercials of lacking originality for using a clever line I had used in my December 2013 Ever Light commercial. Well, it appears I am the one who lacks originality! The line was originally used in a February 2013 commercial for Remark-A-Bulb, which (even more embarrassingly) I covered on this blog. It gets worse. Although I didn't know it at the time, the Remark-A-Bulb commercial and line belong to ... Kerrmercials. They were merely recycling their own work, so I am the only plagiarist here.

To Tim Kerr: My sincerest apologies, especially for the implication that you lack originality. Great line. Sorry I stole it. It wasn't conscious, and I'll be careful that it doesn't happen again. To everyone else: Please bear witness to my public shaming!

2. In my post about the attempted resurrection of Hercules Hook (also now updated), I assumed that the reason the new version of the commercial so closely resembled the old version of the commercial is because Sully and Billy worked together on the project in 2006. While it is true that Sully and Billy often collaborated (as shown on the Pitchmen reality show), it is not true that the original Hercules Hook was done by Sullivan Productions. It was done by Hutton-Miller, and I am informed that Sully was not involved.

3. And finally, a clarification. In my post about Max Lash, I mentioned 2004's Dream Lash and linked to what I thought was an online copy of the original commercial. As it turns it, the link goes to a Concepts TV commercial that was shot in 2009, not the original commercial. I'm not sure which producer did the original spot. If someone would be so kind as to use the comments section to educate us, I'd be much obliged. What I do know (now) is that Concepts did not do the original spot. Kudos to them for contacting me and being honest enough to make sure they weren't getting credit for someone else's work. Today, I am further shamed by their good example!

December 04, 2014

Card Lock

Description: An RFID-blocking sleeve
Main Pitch: "Like a portable bank vault for your credit cards"
Main Offer: $10 for two in solid or paisley
Bonus: Two more plus free S&H
Starring: Craig Burnett
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

This is similar to an item Telebrands recently did with Akos called Security Sleeves (see my October column in Response for an analysis of the project). This is also now the third time someone has tried this pitch on DRTV. In DR, the third time is seldom the charm.*

S7 Analysis: As I've explained before, the big challenge with RFID-blocking technology is people don't know that it is needed. Even if everyone were aware of the problem, this would still be a prevention pitch with the 'selling the invisible' problem mixed in. (On the former point: Imagine trying to sell someone a gizmo that prevents physical pick-pocketing, and you'll see what I mean.) As for the commercial, it struggles to be engaging because the product is not demonstrable and thus not very exciting.

* Formerly "the third time is never the charm," this catch-phrase has been modified based on several recent counter-examples.