Description: Shoe insert/insole made of a high-impact gel
Main Pitch: "Absorbs more shock and pressure than other insoles"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one insole and insert set
Bonus: Second insole and insert set (just pay separate S&H)
Starring: Billy Mays
Marketer: Impact Gel Corporation
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good/Excellent
This product was featured in the premier episode of Pitchmen, the new reality show about Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan. Since I'm writing this after that episode aired, and American now knows how it did, I obviously won't be making a prediction. However, I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the product and the commercial, two things that will certainly affect where the item ranks on the annual Top 50 charts for this year.
First, the product. It's in a very tough category for DRTV. I've seen many similar items (including ones I worked on) fail miserably. Indeed, I know of no insole-type product that has succeeded on DRTV besides this one. In my opinion, that's because the category is already dominated by major brands. As discussed in a previous posting (see here), crowded categories are a common trap that DRTV entrepreneurs fall into. Sometimes it works out, but most times it does not. The trick is convincing the consumer your 'better than' solution is so much better, they have to have it. That's where the creative comes in.
Sully and Billy did an excellent job establishing the required point of difference using a series of well-conceived "magic demos." This tried-and-true DRTV technique is so powerful, it can often overcome major product shortcomings (such as the crowded category problem). My only criticism pertains to the relevancy of those demos.
The spot doesn't prove the "impact" material does for feet what it does for Billy's hand (or Sully's hand, as the case may be). When it comes to feet, there are no magic demos, nothing to show people this is better than a name-brand insole in a way that really matters. I liked the scene that showed other inserts can break down, but it was a little apples-to-oranges given the main product is a gel insole. The real comparison viewers will make is to Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel insoles (of "Are You Gellin'" fame) and the like. They will rightfully ask: "How is this any better at protecting my feet?" And they won't come up with a good answer.