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

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."

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.

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 ...

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!

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

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.

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 (?)
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.

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 (?)
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.

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.

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 (?)
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

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 (?)
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!

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.

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 (?)
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!

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!

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 (?)
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:






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.