December 05, 2008

New This Week: Sili Strong, Return If Found, Touch 'N Bond and more

Not much to love this week. Although I reviewed seven commercials, I generally found the products to be mediocre and the commercials to be just OK. What's more interesting this week is the trend I see developing in the industry. Because of the great market conditions for DRTV (consumers looking for value, cheap and plentiful media), the major players are resurrecting any past hits they think have even a halfway decent shot at success. This is a smart strategy. Next year is going to be an excellent year for DRTV, the likes of which we haven't seen since 2002-2003. In addition to testing any new items that can be found, it makes sense to take a shot with old items as well. The risks are small compared with the rewards.

1. SILI STRONG ($19.99) is non-stick bakeware made of silicone. The pitch: "Foods never stick, so you never scrub." It also has a "strong outer frame," so it won't flex and spill. The offer includes two pans, one with holes and one without. The bonus is ceramic peeler and mandolin set (just pay P&H). This is a Harvest Direct product pitched by Cathy Mitchell. www.SiliStrong.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This product is saddled with a "sili" brand name that could hurt results. It's rare, but I've seen it before. Otherwise, the product has some potential. I know it has done well on the live shopping channels. The flaws I see: It's not very unique, and it doesn't solve a pressing problem. Silicone bakeware is widely available at retail, and most people get by fine with their regular bakeware and some tinfoil. Indeed, this sub-category may be filled with solutions in search of a problem. As for the commercial, it does its job and hits most of the techniques. Cathy Mitchell was also an excellent choice for spokesperson. I think she's the best in this category.

2. RETURN IF FOUND ($19.95) is a lost item recovery system. It features adhesive tags with a unique serial number you register online. Each tag also has an 800 number and Web address. When someone finds your lost item, they call the number or visit the Web site, and you are notified without having to reveal your personal information. The pitch: "Label it before you lose it." The offer includes 57 labels in all different sizes. The bonus is three key tags and four luggage tags. www.ReturnIfFound.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is an old idea with a modern twist. Interestingly, I don't believe anyone has ever tried it on DRTV. There are quite a few things to like about it as a DRTV item. It has mass appeal. It solves a common and painful problem (losing expensive items). And it represents a great value vs. the cost of replacing these items. However, it also has several weaknesses. Technology-related items, in general, do not fare well on DRTV because of the older demographic that buys from TV. Also, many expensive electronics come with inexpensive insurance these days. (For example, my wife just lost her Blackberry Pearl and her insurance company sent her a replacement.) But perhaps the biggest weakness: This is a prevention product, and one of the laws of advertising is "prevention doesn't sell." As for the commercial, it is well produced and employs many of the DRTV techniques.

3. TOUCH 'N BOND ($24.95) is a liquid bonding agent for fabrics. The pitch: "Easily mend rips and tears in any fabric in just seconds." The offer is buy one, get one free. The bonus is a 101 Uses booklet. This product is from International Home Shopping, a division of Ohio-based Suarez Corporation Industries. www.TouchNBondTV.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Poor**
Comments:
This is a competitor to Mighty Mendit and LiquiSew, which represent two dominant forces in the marketplace. If there's a DRTV market for this product, these two players will own it. I don't know if this product came before or after its competitors, but it's irrelevant now. This was a bad time for them to try to launch a DRTV campaign. This product is also more expensive than the competition, and $5 too expensive for DRTV.  As for the commercial, it was obviously put together by a DRTV novice. The execution is clumsy, and few of the tried-and-true techniques are employed.

4. GPS PAL ($10) is a GPS holder that looks like a coffee mug and fits in a cup holder. The pitch: It's the "perfect companion for your GPS." The offer is buy one, get one free (just pay S&H). The bonus is a Dual Car Power Outlet. This is a Telebrands product pitched by Anthony Sullivan, and a Sullivan Productions commercial. www.BuyGPSPal.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is an interesting product to attempt on DRTV. The assumption behind this campaign is that there are enough older people (the bulk of DRTV buyers) out there who use an after-market GPS to sustain a DRTV campaign. In my opinion, that's slicing the market too thin. I've already blogged extensively about older people and technology, and many people have GPS systems built into their cars. Moreover, this product does not solve a painful enough problem. If suction holders fall off your window, there are other options on the market (e.g. this Garmin Dashboard Mount). It may even create a problem for people with center-console cup holders because now they will have to take their eyes of the road to look at their GPS. That said, there are several things to like about the product. It's a simple and practical solution to common GPS annoyances. It's also a great value. As for the commercial, it's what I've come to expect from the Sullivan team: Quality production and inventive application of proven DRTV techniques.

5. SALON SHAPER ($10) is an at-home manicure system. It's a cordless, pen-shaped device with a motor that spins one of several filing attachments. The pitch: "Gives you professional-looking manicures at home without paying up to $50 for a salon visit." The offer includes the device and five attachments: an Emory Head, a Diamond Cone, a Grinding Cone, a Small Grinding Cone and a Soft Felt Cone. The bonus is a satin travel bag. Then they double the entire offer (just pay S&H). This is a Telebrands product and a Concepts TV commercial. www.SalonShaper.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is a "blast from the past" product. It was a Telebrands hit in 2001, coming in at No. 31 on the Jordan Whitney Top 100 that year. But will it be an "old is gold" product? I have my doubts. First, this item was much more unique when it first came out. Today, similar products are on the shelf at retail for value prices. For instance, Wal-Mart has a Homedics 15-piece rechargeable tool for $19.98. Second, I'm not certain this product solves a pressing problem anymore. Nail salons are everywhere, and the price for a basic manicure has come way down. Third, and this didn't seem to matter in 2001, this item is hard to explain in a minute and 30 seconds. This is going to be a problem with any item that has multiple attachments. Concepts did an admirable job, but there's no way to describe everything adequately and avoid having the spot feel rushed.

6. EUROSEALER ($9.99) is a handheld heat sealer. The pitch: "Creates air-tight seals in seconds." The offer is for one sealer. The bonus is a second sealer (just pay S&H). This is a TriStar product. www.BuyEurosealer.com (inactive link)

Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: Good**
Comments:
This is another "blast from the past" product. It was a major Tristar hit in 1998, coming it at No. 8 on the Jordan Whitney Top 50 that year. However, it seems we already have the answer to the question of whether this will be another "old is gold" success story. The Web site is already inactive, meaning it did not do well. I have a few ideas as to why. The biggest one: Since 1998, the market for sealers has exploded with options of all shapes, sizes and prices. A few years back, Tilia opened the flood gates with the success of its FoodSaver line. Since then, many have tried to capture a share of this market, and many have failed. This product also faces competition from DRTV products outside its category, such as Debbie Meyer Green Bags. That's because the pitch is essentially the same: "Use this to keep things fresh." A different problem with this product is the difficulty explaining how it works in a credible way. Here again, Tilia may be to blame. They've educated people about what it takes to create a quality sealer. These days, it's harder to believe something as small as this product can do the job right. As for the commercial, it borders on excellence. All the DRTV techniques are employed to great effect. The only weakness in the spot: It needs to be updated. That old "wah-wah-wah" DRTV sound effect comes across as super-cheesy today.

7. PERFECT PLATTER ($24.95) is a serving platter with a liner of hot/cold packs. You can microwave the packs for hot food or freeze the packs for cold food. The pitch: "Keeps food at the perfect temperature for up to 8 hours." The offer includes the tray with insulated liner and four hot/cold packs. The bonus is a flat tray top, silicone oven mitts and a six-piece pizza plate set. This is a BDA product. www.BuyPerfectPlatter.com

Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7*
Commercial Rating: OK**
Comments:
This product is a tough sell on DRTV. Although it has everyday applications, it's best used for special occasions, which means it will only appeal to people who like to entertain. It's also expensive for DRTV. They do build the offer with several bonuses, but they'd be better off saving the money and going two for $20 if possible. As for the commercial, it hits the right notes but it feels slow and doesn't flow logically.

Sources: “New Spots for Week Ending 11/28/08,” IMS (1, 4, 7); "Vol. XVIII, No. 6-B for 11/28/08,” Jordan Whitney (2-3, 5-6)

* 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.

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