March 16, 2009

Review: What Odor?

Description: All-natural spray that eliminates odors
Main Pitch: "Unlike other products that only mask the smell, [it] completely eliminates it forever"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one 16-oz bottle and one 6-oz travel bottle
Bonus: Second set of bottles FREE, company will also plant a tree
Starring: Billy Mays
Marketer: For The Earth Corp.
Producer: Unknown

Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7
Commercial Rating: OK

Odor eliminators are a tough category for DRTV. I can't think of a single one that's done well. My favorite was Odor Xit. It tested in August 2007 and then went nowhere. The reason can be summarized in one word: "Febreeze." Online at, a 9.7 oz can of Febreeze is $3.29. But what's more important is the millions of dollars in marketing muscle Procter & Gamble has put behind the name on that can. Can an unknown brand hope to compete?

This is a good example of a classic dilemma I often encounter in the conference rooms of DRTV companies. The conversation usually goes something like this ...

Me: "Cool product, but is it unique enough? This is a very crowded category."

Client: "Exactly. It's crowded because of high consumer demand! This type of item is a proven winner!"

Me: "Yes, but you're fifth to market with a me-too product. And the other guys have pretty big ad budgets. What makes you think you'll be able to make a dent?"

Client: "No other product has [xyz feature]. Check out what this can do!"

Me: "That's cool, but is it unique enough?"

If this conversation sounds circular, that's because it is. And there isn't necessarily a right answer. Sometimes a DRTV product can enter a crowded category and become the No. 1 product. It's not common, but it happens (see Oxi Clean). Still, I don't like the odds in these scenarios. I've seen far too many "crowded-category items" fail.

This particular one also faces other challenges. One is the difficulty of proving odor elimination on TV. The reason I liked Odor Xit was because the commercial featured live demonstrations with real people. They'd wear a blindfold and have to sniff a plate of fish that had been sprayed with the product. They'd smell nothing, of course, and then the camera would capture their natural surprise when they removed the blindfold and saw what they had sniffed. That's the only way to go about it. This commercial uses that "green fog" animation I see far too often, and it kills the credibility.

Then there's the "magic demo." It's a stunt worthy of the MTV show Jackass. Billy Mays stand at the business end of a live skunk, clutching his bottle of spray. Will he actually let the skunk spray him in the face? There are only two possibilities, and both of them present a big problem. One, the skunk won't really spray Billy and the demo will be an obvious fraud, completing killing the credibility of the scene. Two, Billy will take a face full of skunk juice and forever damage his reputation as a serious professional. (To find out what happens, click the "Watch the Spot" icon above.) 

Neither scenario makes any sense to me. I applaud the creativity of the person who thought up the demo, but having Billy perform it was a bad idea. Better to hire Steve-O and the wildboyz and have Billy come in afterward for the smell elimination demo. Or maybe not. Maybe this is a good idea for a viral YouTube video, but not for a DRTV commercial.

Last but not least, there's the odd "we'll plant a tree" close to the commercial. I've written extensively about the shortcomings of "green" products for DRTV, so I won't rehash those comments here. I'll just add the following: If you're going to do it, do it right. This seemed like an afterthought, which is unexpected coming from a company called "For the Earth Corp."


  1. This not a review of the product, this is merely a review of the commercial. How about actually testing the product and writing a review on how it works (or doesn't)?

  2. I learned nothing from this.

  3. what odor works better than anything its so enviroment friendly u can even spray it in your mouth!!!!!!!!!1 it works!!!!!!!!!

  4. I bought What odor and used it directly on my dog and it works. The foolowing week a cat got into my house and sprayed on the walls and carpet. It was disgusting. My wife used the what odor and it actually got rid if the smell. I thought it would come back but it didnt.
    I think this is great especially since it is okay and safe for pets.

  5. who cares about a review of the infomercial, like other people said before test the product and review the product itself. Get off your soapbox dude

  6. Is it lonely... up there on your pedestal. I mean really, who cares about the commercial if the product is amazing( which trust me, it is). And I thought the skunk demo was a good show of its strength given that most people view tomato juice as the only way to get that stuff off.

  7. I was looking for a product review...I didnt find one here.

  8. Dear Readers:

    I appreciate your feedback and thank you for reading my blog. However, please understand that the purpose of this blog is not to test and review products. It is an industry blog about what makes a product right for DRTV and DRTV marketing.

    For product reviews, I recommend a site such as However, this is a new product, so it will probably take a while for people to review it. Thanks again for your input.

  9. The planting of the tree is not an afterthought! I purchased the product last year at a home show in Phoenix when the product first came out. This was something that they were doing even then! Just thought you should know they are a good company. And now I am proud to say I am employed by that company. I was a customer before an employee and that goes to show what a great corporation For The Earth is!

  10. This is really not a reveiw it is a waste of time, but this product really is great, it works 100%. In todays economy we do not have money to waste, so don't! Quit buying your febreze and such. The reason Febreze is so highly used is because of its advertisements. What Odor is rapidly spreading, but not through advertisements. It's through word of mouth, and if it did not work people would not be talking about it.

  11. I recieved what odor today and after spraying it in my husbands smelly sneakers ,the smell came back after 5 min. I have tried 6 times already and have come to the conclusion it DOES NOT WORK!!!

  12. DOES NOT WORK!!!!!

  13. this is a marketing review which i could care less about-DOES IT WORK????????????????

  14. Hi Jordan

    Two things: First, you give the "Product Score" a 4 out of 7. So this leads us to believe it is supposed to be a product review. If it isn't, that's cool; it's your blog, not mine. But maybe somehow you could make it clearer at the top of the page that you are not reviewing the actual product.

    Second, I don't think Pitchmen was out at the time you wrote this, but there was an episode which shows that Billy himself was the one that wanted the skunks. Sully didn't like the idea.

  15. Hi i am the CEO of What Odor and i can tell you the product works.

    Some odors are harder to get out then others, shoe odor is one of them.

    We tested various levels of shoe odor, for really bad shoe odor you can soak them in What Odor or continue to spray them, but you have to stop wearing them until the odor is gone.


    Any questions please email me at


  16. This product is wonderful, it really eliminates odor's. Even in shoes, I spray some inside about once every two days and they smell like new. This is a big problem solved for me.

  17. I honestly feel dumber after reading this article. There was not one useful bit of information here.

  18. Anonymous: Honestly, I don't know how you could feel any dumber than you already must feel going through life without basic cognitive skills, such as the ability to determine for whom a publication is written.

  19. Why did you bother to waste the time to write this when you said nothing of value?

  20. I must agree with most of this review. Fortunately since this product and the commercial creative process was broadcasted on the Discovery Channel, I felt there were many elements that simply missed the mark. I suppose you are correct in stating that had the skunk actually sprayed Billy, it may have damaged his career, however, I do think having a "Real" skunk possible spraying some target and using this as one of the items that blindfolded testers pass the "What Odor" test then it could have been a bit more groundbreaking. Instead they bank much of the commercial's demo on a skunk that had its glands removed and was a rescued animal, so for all I know the animal could have already smelled like roses. Who cares that Billy held the thing and sprayed his shirt, it demonstrates little of the product's uniqueness.

  21. I too have used the product and would rate the effectiveness of the product a 7 our of 7. Yes, there are many other odor products out there and believe me I bought them all before I tried what odor. What odor is now the only product I will ever use, the others make the claims however what odor is the ONLY ONE THAT WORKS. I understand this website is about the infomercial but I thought it was a great, new, fun, fresh creative infomercial. I love Billy Mays and his products.

  22. Jordan,
    I came across your article in search of information about the general effectiveness of the What Odor product for comparison to the OdorXit product. This blog was one of the top links in Google based on my search, even though it was a marketing industry blog. I have to admit, I found that the article provided interesting insight into the DRTV industry.

    Thanks for the diversion :)

  23. I HATE those late night infomercials and usually leave the room until they're done. However this time I had a smell I could not get rid of. Every time I get on the floor to do my yoga it smells like a rodent cage. You know the smell - urine wet bedding! I tried Febreze and everything else in the store I could find so i was at my wits end with this stink. It smelled worse in wet weather too. I got OdorXit and damn if it didn't do the trick after one use! I was shocked but too happy to question it. For me it was worth every penny of the $20 bucks to never smell that again and never have to think about it again. The smell has never returned again after 2 years so whatever is in it DOES work. It was VERY easy to use too., Just spray in the area that smelled. We also went in the cellar and sprayed under the area and it did it completely! I have no complaints.

  24. How did we go from "What Odor?" to "Odor Xit"?

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.