December 11, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. PUSH BUTTON FILE
Description:
A power nail file
Main Pitch: "Files nails quickly and easily for a perfect finish"
Main Offer: $10 for one with two styling heads
Bonus: Second one with two styling heads free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website:
www.PushButtonFile.com
S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different (?)
Comments: "Old is gold" as they say, and Telebrands is the one to bring this concept back since they were behind the original TV hit, 2001's Salon Shaper. However, the Pedi Pistol didn't make it, and similar items have also been tried without success.

2. CLIK HOOKS
Description:
Adhesive hooks with an optional snap-in bar
Main Pitch: "Keep your cupboards clean and your countertops clear"
Main Offer: $19.95 for 10 hooks, 10 bars and eight S-hooks
Bonus: Double the offer FREE (just pay separate P&H)
Marketer: Allstar Marketing
Website: www.GetClikHooks.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: The only hit item I can think of like this was Ontel's Snap Hooks, which made the Top 20 in 2000. Today, adhesive hooks are fairly common. For example, 3M has a line. This product tries to be more with the addition of the bar, but there are much better-looking solutions, and they are widely available at retail.

3. JYZE PRO
Description:
An exercise device for a woman's arms
Main Pitch: "A fun and effective way to melt away the fat on your arm problem areas"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one workout set with yellow resistance band (3-16 lbs) and orange resistance band (8-30 pounds)
Bonus: Quick-start workout DVD and user's guide
Website: www.GetJyzePro.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted, Engaging (?)
Comments: The WHAT Pro?! Getting past the name, I'm not sure an exercise device just for women's arms is needed. Women's fitness is also a tough category for short-form DRTV. With a few notable exceptions (e.g. Bender Ball), the category has traditionally worked best in long form. As for the commercial, this opening has been done many times, and I think it is always done wrong. Women don't want to be insulted, and talking about their "jingle jangle" is insulting.

4. TROJAN VIBRATING MINI
Description:
A small vibrator
Main Pitch: "The high-quality personal massager from Trojan"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: A Trojan condom, storage pouch and 2 button cell batteries
Marketer: Church & Dwight
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.TrojanMini.com
Comments: This one's outside the norm for DRTV, so I didn't bother to give it an S7 rating. However, this is a newly popular DRTV category worth noting. Notice I didn't write "a new DRTV category." I was checking the archives recently and noticed Telebrands at No. 23 on the 1999 Jordan Whitney annual with Vibra Touch. These "personal massagers" have also been a staple in catalogs for decades. But Blue Moon has put a great new twist on the creative, and the Trojan name gives the product a trustworthiness it wouldn't otherwise have.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

December 09, 2009

There's Only Room For One

I was thinking back on the year recently and talking about some of my most disheartening bombs with my wife. What was really bothering me was that I fully expected these particular items to succeed. I wasn't on the fence. I was sure they would at least roll out.

Anyway, in trying to explain why one item didn't make it, I found myself describing the success of another item in the category. My item was a shoe organization product, and the winner in that category this past year was Telebrands' Shoes Under. My story went something like this:

"Our Predict-A-Hit results were great, but while we waited for the inventor to sign our deal, six months went by. By then, Shoes Under was all over TV and retail, and when we tried to validate the results with a re-test on Predict-A-Hit, the item bombed."

Later in the conversation I brought up another of my bombs, this one a space-saving product for the closet. The big hit in that category this year was Hampton Direct's Wonder Hanger, and I ended up repeating myself:

"We had high hopes for this item, and the retailers loved it. But the TV results were awful because by the time we launched, Wonder Hanger was all over TV and retail."

At that point, the voice of Al Ries popped into my head:

"They key to success in marketing is to be first in the mind in a new category."

I know this. I preach this. You probably know it and preach it, too. But as DR marketers, how often do we forget it?

I can't count the number of times the counter to this argument has won the day. It goes something like this: "The big success of XYZ means this is a hot category! The big success of XYZ is proof people are looking for items like this! Our item is not the same as XYZ, so it's bound to be a hit." And our ego goes a step further, telling us we're going to take the market away from that other guy.

Part of the problem is Ries also taught there's enough room in a category for two dominant players. Coke and Pepsi. Hertz and Avis. McDonald's and Burger King. But that's in the world of branding.

When it comes to DRTV, I've come to the disturbing conclusion there's only room for one. After all, DRTV buyers are a relatively small group -- less than 10% of the buying public the last time I checked -- and they're fickle. Hot today, cold tomorrow. The item that first captures their interest will pick all the low-hanging fruit in a hurry, leaving slim pickings for the next guy.

Sure, there are exceptions. But another favorite Ries quote of mine is this:

"You can either live by the rules and accept the possibility that you might miss an opportunity because you didn’t break the rules. Or you can live a life of anarchy."

I really should listen to him more often.

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment.

December 06, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. WIDGET LIGHT
Description:
A hands-free LED light with bendable "legs"
Main Pitch: "Bendable, durable and stay-put-able ... 1,001 uses and counting"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Triple the offer free (just pay separate S&H)
Website: www.WidgetLight.com
S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Uncrowded, Motivating (?)
Comments: I think there's room in the market for a hands-free lighting solution, but this particular product is odd-looking and many of the uses in the commercial aren't likely. In fact, this is more like a kid's product and might find success in that market.

2. OXINEEM
Description:
A toothpowder made from India's Neem tree
Main Pitch: "The natural toothpaste booster that bathes your teeth and gums in powerful antioxidants"
Main Offer: $19.95 for a three-month supply (1 oz. of cinnamon, 1 oz. of peppermint)
Bonus: Double the offer (six-month supply) plus a month's supply of mouthwash
Marketer: Aaah Company
Website: www.OxiNeem.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Uncrowded, Motivating (?)
Comments: If I had to choose one example of what I mean when I talk about a "crowded category," the toothpaste category would be it. Also, to say people are unlikely to sprinkle this brown powder on their toothpaste just for some antioxidant benefit would be understatement.

3. PONY-O
Description:
An "o"-shaped hair accessory you crimp to lock in place
Main Pitch: "Makes hair styling easy"
Main Offer: $9.99 for two in black plus an instructional DVD
Bonus: Two more in blonde (just pay separate S&H)
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.PonyO.com
S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Uncrowded, Motivating (?)
Comments: This is yet another product trying to capitalize on the success of Bumpits. Like the others, it is unlikely to succeed, largely because of the dozens of brand-name hair accessories already on the market.

4. SPINEDOK
Description:
A device that stretches your back
Main Pitch: "In five to ten minutes .. it allows you to ease your back, neck and shoulder muscles"
Main Offer: $29.95 for one
Bonus: Workout DVD
Starring: Barry Radcliffe
Marketer: AltruEon
Website: www.SpineDok.com
S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Uncrowded, Motivating, Clear (?)
Comments: This is a tried-and-true category for DRTV, but the product is too plain to motivate people off the couch on its own. The minimalist approach to the creative doesn't help, and the spokesman sounds more like a preacher than a pitchman.   

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

November 25, 2009

Review: Precision Brow Planing System

Description: A kit for shaping eyebrows
Main Pitch: "Now you can have the natural, perfectly arched brow you've always wanted"
Main Offer: $39.95 for the complete kit
Bonus: Five professional brushes and an instruction book
Starring: Christi Harris
Marketer: The Christi Harris Companies
Website: www.ChristiHarrisBrows.com
S7 Score: 5 out of 7 (?)

This is an excellent product idea supported by a beautiful commercial. There are only a few things that will prevent it from doing well on short-form DRTV.

The first is the kit's price. In most channels, the beauty category has a higher than average price barrier. But on DRTV, there is little evidence to suggest the typical price barrier of $20 can be exceeded. This is especially true in this economy. The line separating luxuries and necessities has never been brighter, and this kit is clearly a luxury.

The other major weakness I see is the complexity of the kit. All told, this is a nine-piece kit that planes, blends, diffuses, thickens, conceals and so on. In addition to the planing tool, there are three makeup colors and five brushes. A book titled "The Plane Truth About Brows" is included free -- not because it's a nice bonus per se, but because the detailed instructions inside are necessary to use the kit. This sort of complexity can hurt sales because DRTV buyers favor solutions that make life easier. This kit will be intimidating to many, especially since eyebrow sculpting is a high-stakes activity where taking shortcuts can lead to embarrassing results.

The kit's complexity also hurts the clarity of the commercial because a lot of information must be squeezed into two minutes of selling time. The time crunch creates other problems as well, such as critical before-and-after scenes disappearing before the viewer can fully process them. It also forces the VO announcer to engage in "speed talking," especially near the end of the spot. As the great Ron Popeil once told me: "What is the perception of someone who is trying to sell you at a machine-gun pace? They are trying too hard, so it’s too good to be true."

November 20, 2009

Review: EZ Motion

video

Description: Form-fitting therapeutic gloves with a built-in pouch for a heat pack
Main Pitch: The fabric "provides hand and wrist support" and "increases blood flow" while the heat pack "increases circulation"
Main Offer: $10 for one pair with two reusable heat therapy packs
Bonus: Thera Massage Pen (just pay S&H)
Marketer: Zoom TV Products
Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing
Website: www.GetEZMotion.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7 (?)

This is an interesting twist on the arthritis gloves that are available at drug stores. (Walgreens sells a pair for $29.99.) That these already exist in some form answers the question of whether they are needed. If the major drug chains are selling them, they're needed. So the important question, at least from a product perspective, is whether these gloves are different enough to compete with what's already out there. I think they are.

This is one case where a "better than" product could work because the improvement is significant and the previous item is rather boring and lacking in credibility. For people who wonder how mere fabric can warm the hands enough to address pain (as I did), this product offers heat packs to address the objection. Smart.

However, I do have a concern about this product, and that is its target. Because of how it looks (not fashionable) and what it does best (address hard-core hand pain), this is clearly a product for seniors. (My apologies to any aging fashionistas who may be reading this.) While a significant portion of DRTV buyers are seniors, it is difficult to sustain a DRTV campaign with seniors alone. This also doesn't target ALL seniors -- just seniors with major hand pain. Any time a target market is a percentage of a percentage, sustaining a rollout will be difficult.

As for the category, it is crowded with solutions for this problem. Marketers tend to view their competition narrowly (e.g. therapeutic gloves), but this product will compete with every pill, cream and heat pad in the broad category of pain relief. This category also happens to be populated with brands that have decades of loyalty behind them. The only mitigating factor here is that no pain relief solution is 100% effective, so pain sufferers -- like dieters -- are always willing to try something new in their never-ending quest for relief.

Moving on to the commercial, I think it sells the product well and is engaging enough to hold the viewer's attention throughout. That's because it makes good use of classic DRTV techniques and does a good job creating demos where none would seem to exist.

The offer isn't as strong. The price-to-value is solid (recall the Walgreens item is thrice the price and doesn't have the heat packs), but people have come to expect TWO for $10 on DRTV, not one. That could hurt response. Also, the bonus comes across as gimmicky because of its name and the limited time there is to explain it. A different bonus, or no bonus if a BOGO is used, would no doubt improve response.

Finally, there is the matter of clarity. This product tries to be a solution for four different problems: coldness/stiffness, "repetitive stress injury," "arthritis" and "carpal tunnel syndrome." Actually, some of that is redundant -- marketing fluff written to make the product sound more useful. But they should have gone the other way. As Telebrands has recently demonstrated with its Windshield Wonder and HeelTastic successes, narrower is better.

Moreover, arthritis sufferers and people with carpal tunnel syndrome should not be lumped together. These groups are different in so many ways that it un-focuses the pitch and creates non-sequitur moments, since the product has certain key features (e.g. heat) that don't apply to both disorders. Better to pick one problem and zero in. Taking a look at how many words it took me to "briefly" describe the main pitch, I submit that it would make the commercial a lot easier to understand.

Weekly Round-Up

1. THERMA SCARF
Description:
Fleece scarf with pockets for microwavable hot packs
Main Pitch: "Keeps you cozy and warm for hours wherever you go"
Main Offer: Two payments of $10 for one in "camel"
Bonus: Second one in black free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.ThermaScarf.com
S7 Score: 6 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed (?)
Comments: I put this one is the same category as Snuggie, meaning it's a clever comfort item that would defy the odds if it caught on. You never know.

2. VIDALIA CHOP HOUSE
Description:
A guillotine-style chopper for fruits and vegetables
Main Pitch: "Chop 10 times more food 10 times faster with only one simple move"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: N/A
Starring: Chef Ralph Pagano
Marketer: National Express
Website: www.BuyChopHouse.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Different, Uncrowded, Motivating (?)
Comments: Despite their lack of success in getting another chopper in this line to work, the Vidalia brand managers clearly do not fear the curse of the line extension. The main pitch reminds me an SAT math problem. Is the correct answer 100?

3. SHOEBEE
Description:
A step-in container that covers shoes in clear plastic booties
Main Pitch: "The fun and easy way to stop dirt from getting into your house ever again"
Main Offer: $29.95 for one
Bonus: 50 free booties OR upgrade to the wood finish ($49.95) and the booties are free for life (just pay separate S&H)
Producer: Meltzer Media
Website: www.TheShoebee.com
S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted, Motivating (?)
Comments: Unless you're Adrian Monk, this product is going to seem unnecessary. It's also $10 too expensive for DRTV -- maybe $20 in this environment.

4. SMART JUMPER CABLES
Description:
Jumper cables that can't be attached incorrectly
Main Pitch: "Makes jumping a dead battery simple, safe and smart"
Main Offer: 2 payments of 19.95 for one set
Bonus: Storage case, 40-piece Smart Toolkit (just pay additional S&H)
Marketer: Michelin
Website: www.BuySmartCables.com
S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted, Uncrowded, Motivating (?)
Comments: Apparently red/black color coordination is too complicated for some people. Unfortunately for Michelin, these people probably can't remember a phone number or find a Web site on their own either. A classic solution in search of a problem.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

November 13, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. DOGPEDIC
Description:
A memory foam bed for dogs
Main Pitch: "The orthopedic bed designed to provide comfort, relief and happiness for your dog"
Main Offer: $39.99 for one (medium size) with suede cover
Bonus: Waterproof liner and lifetime warranty
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.BuyDogpedic.com
S7 Score: 6 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed (?)
Comments: This a tough environment for marketing luxuries -- unless you are asking people to spoil their pets! The memory foam pitch worked well for people, so I see no reason why it won't work well for dogs. And with this exception of the "wah-wah" sound effect (a personal "pet" peeve), the commercial is very well done.

2. FRESH SPOT
Description:
Stick-up ionic odor eliminator
Main Pitch: "The on-the-spot odor eliminator that lasts for life"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Second one free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.GetFreshSpot.com
S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: There's a lot to like about this product. The problem is the category: It's over-crowded to say the least. If you have an odor problem, every major brand has a solution for you, from plug-ins to candles. Plus, I think Consumer Reports did a lot of damage to the ionic pitch with its much-publicized attacks on the Ionic Breeze. If an ionic tower doesn't work, why would anyone believe a tiny stick-up would?

3. SUCK UP
Description:
A super-absorbent powder that gets rid of stains
Main Pitch: "Work it in, then sweep it away and the stain is gone"
Main Offer: $19.95 for a 1-lb container
Bonus: A second 1-lb container free (just pay separate P&H)
Marketer: Lipenwald
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.BuySuckUp.com
S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Targeted, Different, Engaging, Clear (?)
Comments: From what I can tell, this product isn't much different from what's already on the market. For example, Home Depot sells a 10-lb bag of similar stuff for $12.98. I also have doubts about using DRTV to reach this demographic. In general, men respond to short-form tools and fitness products. There is little or no track record for this type of thing. As for the commercial, it's light on compelling visuals and doesn't do a good job (via explanation or demos) of supporting the claim that this product can remove stains.

4. NOTEBOOK BUFFER
Description:
A pad that keeps a laptop from heating up your lap
Main Pitch: "The award winning accessory that takes the heat off"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Keyboard cleaner, On-The-Go laptop kit (just pay separate P&H)
Marketer: (Let me know)
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.NotebookBuffer.com
S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted, Engaging, Motivating (?)
Comments: Where to begin? The product doesn't solve a real problem (hot lap? really?), it targets a questionable market for DRTV (heavy laptop users) and the creative plays like a parody of the genre. This one almost became a "Dangers of DIY DR" posting.

5. BLING STRING
Description:
Sparkly hair extensions
Main Pitch: "Takes your hair from drab to fab"
Main Offer: $9.95 for 150 feet each of silver, brown and gold
Bonus: Style guide plus an additional 150 feet each of red, purple and green
Marketer: Mosaic International
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.BlingString.com
S7 Score: 1 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted, Uncrowded, Engaging, Motivating, Clear (?)
Comments: There are so many missing qualities here, I'm better off talking about the one quality this does have: It's different. I can see some women warming to the idea of putting a hidden sparkle in their hair. Too bad these women don't buy off DRTV. The commercial doesn't help, either. It's too fast-paced and confusing (cut it, loop it, knot it -- huh?), and the persistent use of animation undermines the product's credibility. Sorry, but this one gets the distinction of having the lowest S7 score so far.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

November 04, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. GRILLTASTIC
Description:
A stovetop grill
Main Pitch: "Get outdoor cooked taste with indoor ease"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Digital fork meat thermometer and recipe guide (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.Grilltastic.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Engaging, Clear (?)
Comments: I have to give Telebrands credit for coming up with a brand suffix that is sure to clear a trademark and domain search every time. Plus, it works well in almost any DR category. Hairtastic! Abtastic! Choptastic! As for the item, I've liked it since a friend of mine brought it to my attention a year or so ago. I learned then that it has been a solid seller on the pitch market for years and that it made the charts as Chef Tony's Mighty Pro Grill in 2001. Yes, this is a potential winner, but the commercial doesn't do it justice. Since I understand the product and have seen it demonstrated live, I know this spot could have been more compelling and the product could have been explained a lot better. As it is, the food just sits there on an odd-looking hubcap cooker, and you don't get a real sense of all the benefits of using it.

2. COZY CAFTAN
Description:
A fleece caftan
Main Pitch: A "hot fashion look" that's "warm enough to keep you cozy on even the coldest nights"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with matching belt
Bonus: Second one with belt FREE (just pay additional P&H)
Marketer: Lipenwald
Producer: Globe Video Services
Website: www.CozyCaftan.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: The big challenge to any product in this category is, of course, Snuggie. It's odd to talk about this "problem" already being solved, but there it is. And Snuggie is so well distributed and line-extended, it will be hard for anyone else to gain a foothold. I do think the idea of a warm caftan for winter has merit (although the commercial's fashion angle is questionable). It's just the timing that's tough.

3. DRYER MAID DRYER BALL
Description:
A dryer ball that attracts hair and lint
Main Pitch: "Gets rid of pet hair and lint from clothes, sheets and towels while they tumble in your dryer"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: Self-cleaning lint brush plus two dryer brushes (just pay separate P&H)
Marketer: SAS Group
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.DryerMaid.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: Somebody raided the Ontel warehouse! OK, so the main item here promotes a different primary benefit than Ontel's Dryer Balls, but the other benefits and even part of the name are the same. Plus, the two bonus items are copies of Ontel's Lint Wizard and Dryer Max Lint Removal Kit. Recycling items into a new offer is no way to get a hit on the air, although I do like the commercial. Maybe a narrower focus on just pet hair could push this one over the top, but it needs a better name.

4. TRIPLE CHOPPER
Description:
A manual food processor
Main Pitch: "Chops, slices, dices, spins and mixes just about everything"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with free whipping blade
Bonus: Mushroom Express for slicing mushrooms (just pay separate S& H)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer:
Ontel
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.TripleChopper.com
NEW! S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Uncrowded, Clear (?)
Comments: This is a revamp of the Kitchen King Pro Ontel tested in April 2008 and it's the same concept as the Vidalia Chop It Billy (the late, great) tested in March 2008. I've written extensively about why those items failed, and while this new approach is better and more clever, I don't see it overcoming the challenges with the product.

5. KANGAROO KEEPER
Description:
A purse-organizing insert
Main Pitch: "Holds over 70 items and keeps them neat and secure"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one large and one small in tan
Bonus: Second large and second small in black, plus a Perfect Purse Hook
Marketer: Global TV Concepts
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.KangarooKeeper.com
NEW! S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Targeted, Different, Uncrowded, Engaging
Comments: My first thought when watching this: Again? For some reason, marketers are enamored of this product idea. Besides, if I see one more commercial that opens with a cell phone ringing in a messy purse ... ! Anyway, the history of the category is clear. IdeaVillage's Purse Brite had a decent run. Allstar's Buxton Bag was a hit, but it had genuine leather and a brand name going for it. This item tries to be a combination of the two, but it won't work. So many marketers have tried and failed with similar items. I reviewed another one just last week. Give it up, people!

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

October 26, 2009

Ad Age on DRTV Media

In this article, Ad Age writer Jack Neff explains why the media environment is so tough for DRTV advertisers right now (HT: Asieya). Here are the key lines:

A rapidly tightening scatter market is leaving ... DRTV marketers in the cold as traditional advertisers snap up the remnant time slots once left to them ... The tightening is a result of some established advertisers adding to their upfront buys, along with networks having to offer inventory as "make-goods" to make up for ratings shortfalls over the past years.

Allstar CEO Scott Boilen and Telebrands CEO AJ Khubani are both quoted in the article.

October 23, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. SWITCH-A-BAG
Description:
An organizing purse insert
Main Pitch: "Allows you to move the entire contents of your purse from bag to bag instantly"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Purse Buddy FREE (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.SwitchABag.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Different, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: This has been done before. IdeaVillage's Purse Brite was a better product, and it never caught on in a big way. One problem is the category is crowded with wallets and organizers by designer brands, and some fancy purses even come with built-in organizers. Lynda adds, "In this economy, it isn't needed."

2. SHOEDINI
Description:
A shoe horn with telescoping handle, special grip
Main Pitch: "Lets you get your shoes on and off with ease" and "without bending"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one with a Shoe Renewer polishing sponge
Bonus: Double the offer FREE (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.GetShoeDini.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Targeted, Different (?)
Comments: This product really only solves a problem for the elderly and the injured. Although the former is a significant segment of DRTV buyers, they are not a big enough group to sustain a DRTV rollout. Long-handle shoehorns are also widely available at cheap prices. This one is different, but I don't think it is different enough to excite people.

3. THE SLEEP VIDEO
Description:
A video you watch to go to sleep
Main Pitch: "If you can watch TV, you can get to sleep in just minutes"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one
Bonus: Rhythm Sleep audio CD
Marketer: Savvier
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.SleepVideo.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Targeted (?)
Comments: This thing couldn't possibly work zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh? Oh, anyway, I think sleep is an interesting category for DRTV. From a media standpoint, there is more availability overnight and the rates are cheaper. People having trouble sleeping will be up watching TV then. And I've heard insomniacs will try anything to get to sleep (I have the opposite problem). So this could work. On the other hand, how big is that market and is it DR responsive? I'm not sure. Why wouldn't these people just get one of those glowing butterfly sleep aids? Again, not sure. Important questions ...

4. TWIST N' STAY
Description:
Giant twist ties
Main Pitch: "The twist tie on steroids"
Main Offer: $19.95 for two 17 inch, two 34 inch, and two Hang N' Stays
Bonus: Triple the offer plus two 52-inch jumbo ties FREE (just pay additional S&H)
Starring: An unnamed Billy Mays wannabe
Marketer: Hot Headz of America
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.TwistNStay.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Engaging, Clear (?)
Comments: A client showed this product to me about a year ago, but we passed because we couldn't come up with enough compelling demos. These guys didn't solve that problem. More to the point, their commercial is a jumble of too-fast/confusing demos, and it ends with a confusing offer. The spokesperson also tries to be Billy Mays by yelling throughout. Sorry, only Billy could pull that one off. This guy just ends up looking like a wannabe. Hey, but those Hot Headz hoods sure are awesome!

5. EZ CLEAR
Description:
An invisible roll-on for pimples
Main Pitch: "Say goodbye to those embarrassing acne moments"
Main Offer: Free for 14 days (or is it $9.95?)
Bonus: None
Marketer: OmniReliant
Producer: (Let me know)
Website: www.EZClear.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Different, Uncrowded, Engaging (?)
Comments: I like the idea behind this product, but it is facing an uphill battle in the over-marketed acne category. Ultimately, I don't think it's different enough to take market share from the brand-name "zit zappers" (Oxy, Clearasil) or make the slightest dent in Proactiv's customer base. As for the commercial, the flashing red zit animation killed the credibility for me. Good testimonials, though. Oh, and the homage to Head On was interesting. Hey, why didn't the Head On people ever try this? Probably because they'd have to break tradition and call it "Zit Off."

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

October 19, 2009

AJ's Third Appearance on 'The View'

(E-mail readers click here to see the video.)

AJ made his third appearance on The View recently to pitch Whoopi and Sherri the latest DRTV products.

Items presented (in order) were:

October 16, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. U-GO BAGS
Description:
Reusable shopping bags
Main Pitch: "The only grocery bag that clips to your cart and holds your groceries just like a box"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one
Bonus: An insulated U-Go Bag FREE (just pay separate S&H)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Sulllivan Productions
Website: www.GetUGoBags.com
NEW! S7 Score: 6 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Uncrowded (?)
Comments: The only problem I see with this campaign is that reusable grocery bags are abundant for cheap prices. This bag is bigger and different than the other ones on the market, but I'm not sure if that will be enough.

2. SECRET KEEPER
Description:
A pouch for hiding essentials in a bra
Main Pitch: "The pocket you hide that keeps everything inside"
Main Offer: $19.95 for three (nude, black and white) plus a smudge sponge
Bonus: Triple the offer FREE
Marketer: Allstar
Website: www.GetSecretKeeper.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Motivating (?)
Comments:
I like that this is an attention-getting product, and I absolutely love the fun attitude of the commercial and its spokeswoman. If only those two things were enough to sell a product that doesn't solve a real problem. Meanwhile, the offer presents a Catch-22 dilemma. It's big enough (by the end) for a $19.95 price point, but I'm not sure why any woman would need nine of these. But offering fewer for less would make the DRTV economics unworkable.

3. AIR CUTTER
Description: A home haircutting device
Main Pitch: "The foolproof home styling system that allows anyone to give professional haircuts for FREE"
Main Offer: 30-day trial for $14.95 S&H, then two pay of $29.95
Bonus: Instruction manual and style guide
Marketer: TV Goods
Website: www.AirCutter.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Uncrowded, Engaging, Motivating (?)
Comments:
Considering that it's a modern Flowbee, I was impressed with the design and presentation of this product. The only drawback: You can no longer see the hair being sucked in, so it's less interesting to watch in action. Of course, the bigger problem this product faces is a category crowded with low-cost solutions. Working on Just-A-Trim years ago taught me just how hard it can be to take on the likes of Wahl and Remington -- and that product was $10 on the shelf.

4. RAZOR SMOOTH
Description: A solution that extends the life of razor blades
Main Pitch: "Guaranteed to make your blades last up to 10 times longer and give you a smoother shave"
Main Offer: $10 for a bottle of solution, six activation tablets and the cleaning chamber
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay additional S&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Website: www.BuyRazorSmooth.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Motivating, Clear (?)
Comments: I've liked this idea for years, but it hasn't caught on. One possible reason: Although razor blades keep getting more expensive, they're still cheap enough that the cost savings isn't compelling. As for the commercial, there are a few problems with the offer that will make success harder. One, it includes a bulky razor holder. Two, there are two things that will need to be replenished: the solution and and tablets. Also, the commercial doesn't do a great job of explaining why the solution works, and there is no rationale presented for the tablets.

5. GATOR GRIPS
Description:
Metal hooks for hanging up garage clutter
Main Pitch: "Turn(s) empty space into valuable storage space -- just grip it and clip it"
Main Offer: $19.95 for four, plus two shelf grips
Bonus: Second set free (just pay separate P&H) plus Simoniz Turbo Vac (just pay separate P&H)
Starring: Joe Fowler
Marketer: Simoniz
Website: www.BuyGatorGrips.com
NEW! S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Uncrowded, Engaging (?)
Comments:
Garage clutter is one of those problems people don't really want to solve because it requires commitment and hard work. On the occasions they do knuckle down, there are all kinds of other solutions on the market. This product is different, but it may actually be inferior to what's already out there. As for the commercial, although Joe is compelling, metal hooks are not. There is little magic in these demos because the product is just too mundane.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

October 13, 2009

Review: Mighty Tape

(E-mail readers click here to see the spot.)

Description: Tape that fuses to itself, so it isn't sticky
Main Pitch: "Creates an air tight, water tight seal in seconds"
Main Offer: $19.95 for two rolls
Bonus: Triple the offer (six rolls)
Starring: The late, great Billy Mays
Marketer: Plymouth Direct/Media Enterprises
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuyMightyTape.com
NEW! S7 Score: 6 out of 7 (?)

I'll admit I'm a little skittish about evaluating any "Mighty" campaign because I got it so wrong when I first evaluated Mighty Putty. Since then, I've been more accurate. I called Mighty Mendit correctly, and I wasn't afraid to critique Mighty Shine and Mighty Blast. But that one bad call still bothers me.

Adding to my worry is that the last two "Mighty" products I reviewed didn't really fit the line. In my opinion, this brand stands for home repair, not silverware or stains. However, this new product does fit the line, so I'm a little nervous about making a call.

Here's what it comes down to: "Is the product needed enough to generate the impulse to buy?" It's a tough question, but my answer is "probably not." As far as I can tell, waterproof tape has been available at hardware and other specialty stores for years. It's probably been around as long as duck tape and electrical tape. But while those other types of tape have crossed over to the mass market and are now easy to find at big-box chains like Home Depot, it appears waterproof tape has not.

Now, it's possible this is because waterproof tape just hasn't been marketed correctly. But it's more likely that it isn't as needed in everyday life.

The reason why becomes clearer when you pay careful attention to the demos in this commercial. Unlike Mighty Putty, which had 1,001 uses, this product is more limited. There are only a few uses that are unique to the product. No other tape can repair a hose while it is leaking. If you are scuba diving and a hose breaks, sticky tape is going to be of little use. But repairing a power cord or extension cord? Creating a grip for a tool? Electrical tape works just fine. And sealing vacuum hoses? Duck tape is probably superior. What about those plumbing fixtures? Well, that leads to my next concern.

As readers of this blog know, I often worry about something I call "the curse of the brand extension." I've blogged about this before, but it's worth mentioning again: A successful flagship product (let alone two) can have a negative as well as positive "halo effect" on subsequent products. It's often hard to articulate why, but the plumbing example offers one explanation. When I watched the demo, I thought: Isn't that what Mighty Putty is supposed to do?

In other words, one reason brand extensions might be cursed is that they often end up competing with their own "big brother," the product that was first in the mind and enjoys all the benefits competitors have also found hard to overcome.

As for the commercial, it's everything I've come to expect from the Hutton-Miller team. When I first heard about the scuba diving demo, I had to smile despite the circumstances (I had recently learned of Billy's death). No matter how many times this team is asked to make the mundane magical, they always exceed expectations.

Oh, and speaking of Billy, he is flawless. I still miss him.

October 08, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

1. BOOTY POP
Description:
Padded panties that enhance your buttocks
Main Pitch: "Just like the padded bra" this gives your butt "sexy curves and the ultimate lift"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Second one FREE (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Fitness Quest
Website: www.BuyBootyPop.com
NEW! S7 Score: 6 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Targeted (?)
Comments:
This campaign has a lot going for it. Whoever did the spot deserves a round of applause (email me if you know, so I can post the credit). It strikes exactly the right tone for this market and builds a ton of credibility with quotes pulled from magazines. Speaking of the market, however, I have one concern. With the exception of Bumpits, I have rarely seen a commercial targeting this demographic (let's call them "TMZ girls") succeed. And I don't think older women will be into this product. Of course, it should do really well at retail, so it may not matter. Oh, and the name? It's fun when spoken carefully, but people will have a tendency to put a double "o" in the second word, too. Or they will think this is an odd-tasting confection!

2. MAGBOLT SWITCH BLADE
Description:
A knife with interchangeable blades
Main Pitch: "The only knife you'll need for all your household chores"
Main Offer: $19.95 for handle, 4 blades (filet, utility, saw, handy-hook/skinning) and a folding storage tote
Bonus: Craft/fabric blade, glass & tile cutter blade (just pay separate S&H)
Starring: Mark Gill
Marketer: TV Goods/78TVInfo
Website: www.MagBolt.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Different, Engaging (?)
Comments: Although this product is cool, I'm just not sure it's necessary. And while the commercial is beautifully produced, it didn't find it engaging. Perhaps more relevant and amazing demos would do the trick.

3. PALM WALLET
Description:
Compact leather wallet for men and women
Main Pitch: "It's the biggest little wallet ever that holds it all and keeps it organized"
Main Offer: $9.95 for one (in black, brown or red) and credit card size magnifier
Bonus: Second one and magnifier FREE (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Website: www.GetPalmWallet.com
NEW! S7 Score: 5 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Uncrowded (?)
Comments:
I don't see many men buying this, so it's women who will have to make the campaign successful. Trouble is, I can't think of a woman's wallet that has done well on DRTV (post a comment if you can). It may be that women like their bulky wallets. Or more precisely, they value name brands and style more than practicality. Besides, there are a lot of name brands and styles competing for their attention. Then again, I could have said the same about the Buxton bag. Good thing I predicted it would be a hit instead!

4. CLEVER CLIP
Description:
An ultra-secure hair clip
Main Pitch: "Simply the best way for your up-do to last all day"
Main Offer: $10 for 3 clips (gold, bronze and black) plus 3 Tattle Tails
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.TVCleverClip.com
NEW! S7 Score: 4 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Different, Needed, Uncrowded (?)
Comments: There are so many hair solutions on the market, and this one isn't different enough to break through the clutter. Plus, it doesn't really solve a problem -- except, perhaps, for women who ride bulls. Love that demo!

5. SOCK CLIP
Description:
Clip that holds a pair of socks together
Main Pitch: "Your socks go from the hamper to the washer, from the dryer to the drawer, without ever removing the clip"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of 32 in 4 different colors
Bonus: Double the order (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.TVSockClip.com
NEW! S7 Score: 3 out of 7
Missing Qualities: Needed, Different, Engaging, Motivating (?)
Comments:
Clients have shown me this item or a similar item at least a half-dozen times. I have always argued it isn't needed. Odd socks are a nuisance, not a real problem. Only super-anal people (I'll resist the Booty Pop joke here) care about keeping their socks together neatly at all times. And for the niche that would appreciate this solution, there have been many similar items in catalogs and at stores for decades. As for the commercial, it's about socks. Enough said.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

October 01, 2009

The SciMark Seven

I first published The Divine Seven (D7) criteria for DRTV products in July of 2007. Less than a month later, I also published my list of Tried & True (T&T) techniques for DRTV commercials. Together, these tools have proven remarkably accurate at predicting the success or failure of a DRTV campaign. (See, for example, this study I conducted in April 2008. Or search "90 Days Later" or "Keeping Score" to read my updates since then.)

However, the time has come to combine these tools into a single, comprehensive tool for campaign evaluation. Today, I am announcing The SciMark Seven. (As you can tell, I'm a big fan of alliteration and the number seven.)

Here's the new list of campaign qualities:

PRODUCT
1.
NEEDED
2. TARGETED
3. DIFFERENT

CATEGORY

4. UNCROWDED

COMMERCIAL

5. ENGAGING
6. MOTIVATING
7. CLEAR

The first thing you will notice is that I put both product and commercial qualities in the same list. When I review a DRTV campaign, I learn about the product from watching the commercial, much like the consumer does. That means what I "know" about the product is largely based on what the marketer has chosen to tell me. If the marketer does a poor job, my knowledge will be incomplete. If the marketer does a great job, I will have a better understanding and impression of the product. So I will no longer attempt to separate products and commercials: I will evaluate the two together.

For example, at least three campaigns come to mind that were successful after another industry player had attempted them and failed. The product was exactly the same; it was the marketing that made the difference. One of them is the Hercules Hook. It appears the name ("Hercules") and the magic demo (hanging a heavy mirror) turned a loser into a winner.

You will also notice that I reduced the D7 product criteria to three, renamed product qualities. This is to put less on emphasis on highly subjective criteria, such as "credibility," which can skew my analysis. For example, I missed Mighty Putty because I thought the trailer-pull demo wasn't credible. This is also to avoid certain words that people have trouble understanding, such as "unique." Does "unique" mean a totally original idea? Or does it simply mean a notable improvement on an existing idea? Inventors get mad when I suggest their product isn't unique because it has been tried before. They look at the old product I'm referencing and immediately tell me five ways their product is better. It's hard for them to see that differences must be significant for consumers to notice them. For example, Purse Partner predictably failed on DRTV because the Hollywood Purse Hook had failed, even though there were notable differences between the two items.

My new way of explaining  "unique" is to use the word DIFFERENT. And a new key word I am using with all product qualities is "enough." The question in this case: Is the product different enough to get people's attention or change the fate of a previous, similar product? The same goes for NEEDED, a new way of saying, "Does it solve a problem?" The question here: Is the product needed enough to generate the impulse to buy? As for TARGETED, it's my way of combining and refining the "mass market" and "age appropriate" criteria. The question: Is the product designed for a big enough buying group? And a key addition: One that is also known to be DR responsive?

As for the commercial qualities, long-time readers of this blog will know that I have tried several systems, ending up with an "Excellent" to "Poor" rating scale. But I have never been satisfied with such a loose and uninformative system. A Scientific Marketing approach requires a bit more rigor, still keeping in mind that we are evaluating an "art" when it comes to creative. So I've come up with the three qualities above, which encompass many of the Tried & True DRTV Techniques.

The adjective ENGAGING speaks to several of the key elements of a DRTV commercial, mainly its opening, pacing and demos. The question: Does the commercial grab your attention and hold it throughout? The adjective MOTIVATING is specific to the key elements of the offer -- the value comparison, the price, the bonus and the guarantee. The question: Will the presentation of the offer motivate people off the couch? And then there is clarity, a big factor in the success of a DRTV commercial that is often overlooked. If a commercial isn't CLEAR, people will have unanswered questions or objections. A truism of this industry is: "Confusion is a sales killer."

Finally, there is a new area I am including in my evaluations: the category. On many occasions, I have seen promising products backed by excellent commercials struggle because they were competing in an overcrowded category. The blessings of an UNCROWDED category, one relatively free of competition, cannot be underestimated. It is especially difficult to succeed when the category is already dominated by big brands with big ad budgets and a few decades of consumer loyalty behind them. For example, most new cosmetic products fail due to this daunting challenge.

So there you have it: The SciMark Seven. Look for the S7 Score on all my new reviews. As always, I will be keeping track of its ability to predict DRTV success.

For those who are interested, I've posted a PDF of the SciMark Seven on the SciMark Website.

September 25, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

Recent spots that didn't get a full review.

1. U-GLU
Description:
Industrial strength adhesive you apply like tape
Main Pitch: "Creates a permanent bond to any surface instantly"
Main Offer: $10 for a 75-piece kit
Bonus: Buy one get one free plus two Power Patches (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: TV Goods/78TVInfo
Producer: Procko Productions
Website: www.BuyUGlu.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
Its only weakness is in the uniqueness category. Mighty Putty and Mighty Mendit may have taken its market -- even though it is different.

2. MAX GRIP DASH TRAY
Description:
Plastic tray that adheres to your dashboard and holds your phone, sunglasses, etc.
Main Pitch: "The dashboard organizer that keeps everything you need right at your fingertips"
Main Offer: $10 for tone
Bonus: Second one free plus a crank-powered flashlight (just pay S&H)
Starring: The late, great Billy Mays
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuyDashTray.com 
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
The score is deceiving. I don't think this solves a big enough problem to roll out. Sorry, Billy. Rest in peace.

3. DREAMIE
Description:
A cocoon-like sheet with pillow pocket for home or travel
Main Pitch: "It's total body comfort from your head to your feet"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one sateen Dreamie and carrying case (natural ivory)
Bonus: Fleece version with carrying case in rich espresso (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Zoom TV Products
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuyDreamie.com 
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
Practical, but it doesn't solve a major problem. A luxury, not a necessity.

4. THERMAL ON
Description:
Moist heat back wrap
Main Pitch: "A new path to safe, effective and affordable relief"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Free pain-relief spray plus Sinus Mask (additional S&H)
Marketer: Bruder Healthcare
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.ThermalOn.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
Another deceiving score. This is a very crowded category, so the odds of DRTV success are very slim. This idea would need to be breakthrough in its uniqueness, and it is not.

5. MESH ONE
Description:
Lightweight mesh folding chair
Main Pitch: "Gives you a new level of comfort and back support in a sleek, stylish design"
Main Offer: Two pay of $19.99 for one chair
Bonus: None
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.MeshOne.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
Not a DRTV item. It's not unique enough. It doesn't solve a real problem. And it's way too expensive.

6. MINI MAX
Description:
Miniature light with two settings: beam and strobe
Main Pitch: "Small on size, but big on output ... visible from up to a half mile away"
Main Offer: $19.95 for four in multiple colors, plus an adjustable headband
Bonus: Triple the offer free
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuyMiniMax.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment: This product is really for kids, which narrows the market. It won't appeal to the target demo for DRTV. And it doesn't solve a problem.

7. KNIGHT HAWK PEN
Description:
Multi-function pen
Main Pitch: "The fine writing instrument that also contains a magnifying glass and LED light"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Second one free
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.KnightHawkPen.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
I've written extensively about the problems with "Swiss Army knife products." Plus, this problem/solution has been tried multiple times without great results. The closest was Telebrands' OWL.

8. FRESH HANGER
Description:
A hanger cover that freshens clothes
Main Pitch: "Transforms any hanger into an odor-eliminating, money-saving tool"
Main Offer: $10 for a four-pack
Bonus: Second four-pack free (just pay P&H)
Starring: Jane DeNoble
Marketer: Ideal Home Innovations
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuyFreshHanger.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7 (?)
Quick Comment:
Two serious flaws with this product. First and foremost, it has a credibility problem the commercial does not adequately address. It may be impossible to address it, meaning you need to try the product to believe its claim (a campaign killer). Second, it doesn't solve a painful enough problem in my opinion. People make do or use a P&G product.

9. SWITCH BLADE
Description:
A stunt plane that rises like a helicopter and switches in mid-air to a supersonic jet
Main Pitch: "Revolutionary technology for two-in-one fun"
Main Offer: Two payments of $34.95
Bonus: Controller/charger, launch base and carry case
Marketer: Air Hogs/Spin Direct
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuySwitchBlade.com
Product (D7) Score: N/A
Quick Comment:
RC toys can command a higher price point than other toys, but this price seems excessive for an impulse purchase. Otherwise, it's super cool and should be a hit.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore.

September 17, 2009

Congratulations to Allstar

From Business Wire:

"Allstar Marketing Group LLC, led by President Scott Boilen, was awarded the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) Marketer of the Year Award, largely due to the wildly successful Snuggie, launched in the summer of 2008. Boilen accepted the award in front of an overflow crowd at a ceremony and cocktail event Monday night at Las Vegas` Moon nightclub, located in the Palms Resort & Casino."

I attended the event, which was hosted by Response magazine's John Yarrington. Product Partners/Beach Body and Telebrands were also finalists. Other nominees included Ontel, Thane and Tristar.

It's clear from the press release that each of these companies was nominated because of a campaign that produced results:

"To date, Allstar has sold close to 2.5 million Snuggies direct to consumers, 12 million in retail and nearly 1 million online."

Now that's an award show worthy of our industry.

The ERA should take note.

September 11, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

Recent spots that didn't warrant a full review.

1. SOAP MAGIC
Description:
Motion-activated dispenser for liquid soap, hand sanitizers and lotion
Main Pitch: "The soap you need without the mess or the germs"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Second one free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.GetSoapMagic.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Does it solve a real problem?

2. SMARTER SOAP DISPENSER
Description:
Motion-activated dispenser for liquid soap, hand sanitizers and lotion
Main Pitch: "The touchless way to keep germs away"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one (white or silver)
Bonus: Three suction hooks
Marketer: ResponzeTV International
Producer: Unknown
Website:www.SmartSoapDispenser.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Same weakness as the Soap Magic, and it will be second to market against a stronger competitor.

3. MAGIC TAP
Description:
Spill-proof automatic drink dispenser
Main Pitch: "Just insert it into your drink container, press and [it] does the rest"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with recipe guide, two Magic Straws
Bonus: Double the offer
Marketer: Stalex Holdings
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.BuyMagicTap.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Clever and convenient, but it really only solves a problem for mothers of young kids.

4. TWIST N STYLE
Description:
A hair tie that styles hair
Main Pitch: "Create hot new hair fashions ... without pins, clips or rubber bands"
Main Offer: $10 for three (midnight black, chocolate brown and coffee cream)
Bonus: Three mini Twist N Styles free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.TwistandStyle.com 
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
The scary word here is "style." Very hard to predict what women will find stylish. Also, this doesn't seem to have much to offer over traditional hair ties, and it doesn't solve a big problem.

5. MR. BROOKS FOAM CLEANER
Description:
A foaming cleaning solution
Main Pitch: "The revolutionary all-in-one foam cleaner"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one tub
Bonus: A second tub (pay separate S&H) plus a spray bottle
Starring: Mr. Brooks
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Unknown
Website:www.MrBrooksCleaner.com 
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Plymouth Direct tried something like this under the Mighty brand. This one has more uses, but it's a tough, crowded category with a strong DRTV leader (OxiClean).

6. QUIK TOP
Description:
An all-in-one cap, coaster and drinking cup for canned drinks
Main Pitch: "Prevents messy spills and keeps your drinks fresh and fizzy"
Main Offer: Three for $10
Bonus: Three more free (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website:www.QuikTop.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
A lesser competitor to Telebrands' Bottle Tops (which I never reviewed). I like the item and would rate it a 6 out of 7 if it weren't up against Telebrands, and if they hadn't confused the item by making it a "Swiss Army knife" product (cap, cup, coaster). Also, both products do not solve a big problem.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore

September 01, 2009

Review: Shake Weight

(E-mail readers click here to see the spot.)

Description: A mechanical dumbbell women "shake" to get an upper-body workout
Main Pitch: "In just six minutes a day, you can get arms you'll be proud to show off"
Main Offer: One for $19.95
Bonus: DVD workout guide
Marketer: Fitness IQ
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.ShakeWeight.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good/Excellent

Great product. Even better commercial. The only challenge I see here is getting people to understand how this works.

At first glance, it looks like this thing is electrically powered. The spot does explain that it's a "mechanical device" that "requires no batteries or power." The marketers also throw out terms like "dynamic inertia," "EMG activity" and "isometric contraction." But these are just fancy words that don't communicate anything to the average person. There will no doubt be questions and misunderstandings, and that can hurt sales and drive up costs. However, I don't see an easy solution to this problem and, despite it, I think the campaign has real potential.

A major reason is the commercial. It's rare for me to come across a spot that utilizes so many of the tried-and-true DRTV techniques. I don't know who produced it yet (check back), but the longer version on the Web site is a sterling example of everything a great DRTV commercial should be. It:

  • Opens with two relevant problems
  • Features compelling visual demos (insert joke here)
  • Explains the product's "secret" with great animation
  • Establishes credibility with a scientific study and "real people" testimonials
  • And has one of the best examples of what Joe Sugarman called a "satisfaction conviction" I've ever seen

The 120 doesn't have the testimonials, but it's almost as good. In fact, the only reason I couldn't give it an "excellent" rating is a major problem with the end of the commercial above. If this is the version that aired, they are losing a significant percentage of sales. (Ten points if you email me and tell me why.)

Last, I should mention that this is a great example of what I call "respecting the genre". The way you use this item is sexually suggestive. There's no way around it. But rather than turn the spot into an SNL skit (unlike, say, Doc Bottoms' Aspray), the producer took the product seriously.

The result? Tons of buzz, including mentions on The View and the Glamour blog. This is not the kind of buzz that generates mockery and outrage. This is the kind of buzz that sells. After laughing or making the inevitable joke, these opinion-makers say they would try the product. Bravo.

August 30, 2009

Keeping Score: February 2009

Six months later, here are the outcomes of the items I reviewed in February 2009:

1. HD VISION READERS
Description:
HD Vision sunglasses with built-in bifocals
Date Reviewed:
February 23 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
Outcome:
No. 20 on the Jordan Whitney and No. 30 on the IMS Top 50

I worked on this campaign and all other campaigns for the HD Vision line, so it wasn't too hard to predict its success. What has surprised and amazed me is just how successful each new product in this line has become. It is a rare exception to the curse of the brand extension.

2. WIZZIT
Description:
A pair of electric tweezers
Date Reviewed:
February 23 (full review)
Product (D7) Score:
6 out of 7
Commercial Rating:
Poor
Outcome:
Not on the charts

The commercial for this product got a rare "poor" rating from me because it did "a terrible job of demonstrating the product." I concluded that: "If this campaign does well at all, it will be on the strength of the product and the category. But the bottom line is that this product is two years too late and has no shot against Tweeze at retail, which raises an important question: Why bother?"

3. SLIM BELT
Description:
An "invisible" belt with a flat buckle
Date Reviewed:
February 27 (full review)
Product (D7) Score:
5 out of 7
Commercial Rating:
Good
Outcome:
Not on the charts

Back in February, I wrote that "the problem this solves is too small and the item is too much of a commodity to excite the impulse to 'call now.' Women also view a belt as an accessory, which means personal taste and the rules of fashion come into play. Any time this is the case, the odds of DRTV success decrease significantly."

4. EASY BAKE SHEET
Description:
Silicon baking pan
Date Reviewed:
February 27 (full review)
Product (D7) Score:
5 out of 7
Commercial Rating:
Good
Outcome:
Not on the charts

It seems my concerns that silicone bakeware was "too widely available at retail" and that "most people get by fine with their regular bakeware and some tinfoil" were well-founded.

5. MIGHTY SHINE
Description:
System for instantly removing tarnish and other "gunk" from precious metals and jewelry
Date Reviewed:
February 6 (full review)
Product (D7) Score:
5 out of 7
Commercial Rating:
Good
Outcome:
Not on the charts

Like Telebrands reintroduction of Silver Lightning, this product didn't make it. I suggested several reasons why it might not, only one of which had to do with the creative (I thought it lacked clarity).

6. EARTH BRITE
Description:
All-purpose "green" cleaner
Date Reviewed:
February 2 (full review)
Product (D7) Score:
4 out of 7
Commercial Rating:
OK
Outcome:
Not on the charts

"Most people don't care enough about the environment to buy a 'lesser than' or 'equal to' solution," I reminded my readers when I wrote about this item. "Rather, the product must be 'better than' its non-green alternative in some key way. This commercial failed to convince me that the product has this essential quality. There are no comparisons in the commercial, and while the spot is full of visually compelling demos, they've all been done before."

August 29, 2009

Weekly Round-Up

Recent spots that didn't warrant a full review:

1. HUMMINGBIRD HANGOUT
Description:
A Topsy Turvy planter that grows flowers attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies
Main Pitch: "Attracts hummingbirds with the beautiful flowers and the natural sweet nectar they love"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Second one free (just pay separate P&H), high-power binoculars
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.HummingbirdHangout.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Definitely unique but also seasonal, and it doesn't solve a problem.

2. SPONGE ZAPPER
Description:
A microwavable container that sanitizes sponges
Main Pitch: "Just snap, tap and zap it clean everyday right inside your microwave"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one plus 12 dual-action sponges
Bonus: Double the offer, just pay additional P&H
Marketer: Tristar
Producer: Tristar
Website: www.SpongeZapper.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Sponges are cheap enough to throw away when this becomes a problem. Besides, is microwaving a sponge a credible solution?

3. GRATER PLATER
Description:
A ceramic plate that grates cheese, garlic, ginger
Main Pitch: "The plate that grates"
Main Offer: $10 for one with gathering brush and a Roll N Peel
Bonus: Double the offer, just pay additional P&H
Starring:
Anthony Sullivan
Marketer:
Smart Inventions
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.GetGraterPlater.com 
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Another unique item and idea. People who cook love this item. However, as with any item that has a certain style, not all people will find it appealing. Plus, it doesn't really solve a problem.

4. MAGIC FOLD
Description:
A tri-panel that neatly folds clothing
Main Pitch: "The fastest, easiest way to fold your laundry"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Mini Magic Fold
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.MagicFold.com 
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Quick Comment:
Amateur Hour. The Website doesn't let you order; you have to call an 800 number. In any case, this is an old Smart Inventions item. Today, it's available everywhere, including on HSN, so a resurgence is unlikely. It's also pricey for this environment.

5. TRANSFORMA LADDER
Description:
A highly versatile ladder
Main Pitch: "One ladder, 24 ways to use it"
Main Offer: 4 payments of $89.97 for one (includes two free work platforms)
Bonus: Wall Standoff and Leg Leveler
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.TransformaLadder.com
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7
Quick Comment:
This may be a cut-down of a long-form show. It's obviously way too expensive, and it's hard to explain in short form. It's also not unique since it's really just a repackaged version of the Little Giant Ladder.

Prepared by Lynda J. Moore