May 08, 2008

New This Week: Marshmallow Popper and Optica 1050

Only two items worth mentioning this week. The second quarter slump continues!

1. MARSHMALLOW POPPER ($19.99) is a children’s toy that shoots mini-marshmallows using the power of air. It looks like a pump-action shotgun. The pitch: “Launches marshmallows up to 20 feet.” The offer includes optional foam pellets. The bonuses are a target and playbook. This is an IdeaVillage product and a Morgan James commercial. www.MarshmallowPopper.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is a fun idea and it may do well in certain specific channels, but it isn’t a DRTV item. In general, it is very difficult to make kids’ products work on DRTV because the market and the media choices are narrower, the majority of DRTV buyers are beyond the age of having young kids in the house, and most of these products do not solve a problem (they’re just fun). There are some notable exceptions, but consider this: I tracked 100 items last year and saw only 12 become hits (read more). Of those 12, just one was a kids’ product (Aqua Dots), and it had the dubious distinction of being the first DRTV product recalled during the China contamination scare! Returning to this product, I think it has two additional weaknesses. First, it's an analog product in a digital world. There are much cooler guns on toy store shelves, and most kids will opt for the latest video games – where you can pretend to shoot real guns and watch people die – instead of this. Second, I think parents will be turned off by the mess this makes. Let the kids loose with these guns in your house, and you'll be cleaning up little marshmallows for days! That said, if this item were repositioned as an outdoor toy for camping trips and such, it could overcome that barrier to purchase.

2. OPTICA 1050 ($29.98) is a pair of high-powered binoculars. The main claim: “See up to 35 miles” with “1000x magnification.” The offer includes a carrying case and 90-day warranty. The bonus is a Pocket Spyscope that’s only six inches long when collapsed and “let’s you see up to seven miles.” www.1050binoculars.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is a cool product, but is it cool enough? That’s the big question. There are so many pairs of binoculars on the market by established and trusted brands that it will be hard for these guys to break through. The price is also high for short-form DRTV, although it’s a good value compared to other binoculars on the market. Lastly, the product doesn’t solve a problem, which is another handicap. These guys are really banking on the cool factor to sell their product. As for the commercial, despite its low production value, I like it. The creative uses a lot of tried-and-true DRTV techniques, including an “oldie but goodie” – factory-direct pricing. If this one fails, it will be because of the product challenges, not the commercial. The only thing they could have done better is explain how the product works. Is it some breakthrough technology no one else has?

Sources: “New Spots for Week Ending 5/2/08,” IMS (1); "Vol. XVII, No. 28-B for 5/2/08,” Jordan Whitney (2)

* See my July 24, 2007 post for a complete explanation of the D7 product score.
** See my October 22, 2007 post for a complete explanation of my commercial rating system.

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to mention the ants that will come from stray marshmallows in hidden corners.

    ReplyDelete