March 25, 2010

Keeping Score: 2009 Update

I finally got around to reviewing the top spots of 2009, according to IMS. So I decided it was also a good time to update you on my track record.

Here are the top spots, in reverse order, with my original scores and comments. I skipped the types I don't normally review (ingestibles, collectables, long-form support), and anything that was a repeat from last year.

1. SNUGGIE
Pitch: "The blanket that has sleeves!"
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Blue Moon
Date Reviewed: N/A
My Score: N/A
Outcome: No. 5 on the IMS Top 50

Here's what I wrote when it was clear Snuggie was a bona-fide hit: "This item did not pop up on my radar until it was in full rollout. Good thing, too. Had I reviewed it, I probably would have shared the skepticism of many. A blanket with sleeves? Who knew?!"

2. SMOOTH AWAY
Pitch: "Removes hair instantly and pain free"
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Totally Direct TV
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, OK commercial
Outcome: No. 7 on the IMS Top 50

"IdeaVillage has done it again, introducing the next hit in this category," I wrote. "Another definite winner." As for the OK commercial rating, I felt the overall quality of the commercial could have been better. One reason why I often espouse the DRTV 80/20 rule.

3. SLAP CHOP
Pitch: "Making America skinny, one slap at a time!"
Marketer: Vince Offer
Producer: Square One Entertainment
Date Reviewed: January 28, 2009 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Excellent! commercial
Outcome: No. 10 on the IMS Top 50

"Everyone in the DRTV industry should pay careful attention to what Vince Offer is doing," I wrote. I'd been a fan of Vince's throwback pitch style from the beginning. So far, he's two for two. Of course, it helps that his items have been hits from the past. Shammy cloths such as ShamWow! have been sold successfully for decades, and this product may be the oldest hit item ever, going back to when Ron Popeil was a new kid in the business (see Gladwell's excellent article for more on this).

4. WONDER HANGER
Pitch: "Keeps clothes organized and wrinkle free"
Marketer: Hampton Direct
Producer: Concepts TV
Date Reviewed: October 22, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Good commercial
Outcome: No. 15 on the IMS Top 50

I saw no reason to doubt this "old is gold" item, a reintroduction of a TELEBrands mega-hit from 1989 called Magic Hangers, would do well. However, I did add that "the closet space-saving category is much more crowded with solutions, so the item won't do nearly as well." Easy call seeing as how Magic Hangers did 40 million units during that golden age, which today would make Snuggie look like a piker!

5. TOPSY TURVY TOMATO
Pitch: "World's easiest way to grow tomatoes"
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Blue Moon
Date Reviewed: N/A
My Score: N/A
Outcome: No. 24 on the IMS Top 50

This product pre-dates the blog since it originally came out in the spring of 2007. At that time, I was emailing my comments to a private list of friends and co-workers. I do admit to being skeptical of the item at the time. Plus, 90 days after it launched it did not appear on the charts, which caused me to add it to one of the blog's early lists of "items that didn't make it." Kudos to Allstar for sticking with it and eventually making this one into a solid hit.

6. ALWAYS FRESH CONTAINERS
Pitch: "Keep ALL fruits and vegetables fresh longer"
Marketer: TV Products USA
Producer: Tara Productions
Date Reviewed: August 21, 2009 (full review)
My Score: 5 out of 7
Outcome: No. 30 on the IMS Top 50

Although I gave the product a good rating, I wrote it was "[n]ot credible and 50th to market with a me-too solution." Apparently, consumers disagreed with me.

7. STRAP PERFECT
Pitch: "The ultimate bra strap solution!"
Marketer: Allstar/Media Enterprises
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Date Reviewed: November 10, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Good commercial
Outcome: No. 32 on the IMS Top 50

"This is a simple yet clever product backed by a solid commercial that covers most of the DRTV fundamentals," I wrote. I also liked how the marketing team used a triple offer to overcome the low perceived value of the product.

8. PRAYER CROSS
Pitch: "Center stone reveals The Lord's Prayer"
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon
Date Reviewed: November 24, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 5 out of 7, Excellent! commercial
Outcome: No. 35 on the IMS Top 50

Despite its cost and the fact that it didn't solve a problem, I expected great things from this "jewelry item with a DR twist." My reasoning: "Because it's a quality piece of jewelry, it can command a higher price point than the usual DRTV gadget. Because it's unique and amazing, it will stand out in its category and create an impulse to buy."

9. SHOES UNDER
Pitch: "Space saving shoe organizer"
Marketer: TELEBrands
Producer: Unknown
Date Reviewed: September 17, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Good commercial
Outcome: No. 36 on the IMS Top 50

I thought of a few reasons why TELEBrands, the company that "practically pioneered the category" of shoe organization, might have trouble re-introducing the Shoes Away concept. But ultimately I decided they would be overcome by the "great value," which I predicted was "more than enough to make this a hit."

10. SLIM CLIP
Pitch: The "double-sided money clip ... No more bulky wallets!"
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Date Reviewed: N/A
My Score: N/A
Outcome: No. 38 on the IMS Top 50

This was one of my pet projects and my first collaboration with the talented folks at Hutton-Miller. You can imagine how excited we all were when it was named "The Best Infomercial of All Time."

11. BUMPITS
Pitch: "Hair volumizing leave-in inserts"
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Unknown
Date Reviewed: November 11, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 3 out of 7, OK commercial
Outcome: No. 40 on the IMS Top 50

I already admitted I was wrong about this one. These days, I glance over at the ladies in the room before forming an opinion about hair accessories and/or fashion items. Our mostly male-dominated DRTV industry would be wise to do the same! That said, this item did break the rules by becoming a hit with younger women, a demographic that doesn't typically buy DRTV products. So we now know something about what kind of products both younger men (fitness items such as Perfect Pushup, Iron Gym) and younger women (hair accessories such as this item and No. 13) will buy off TV.

12. RIDDEX PLUS
Pitch: "Turns your home's wiring into a pest repellent force field!"
Marketer: Riddex
Producer: Unknown
Date Reviewed: August 10, 2007 (full review)
My Score: 5 out of 7, 6/10 commercial
Outcome: No. 43 on the IMS Top 50

Although I gave this product a decent rating, I had serious doubts about it. The biggest one: credibility. "The obvious question/objection this commercial raises is, 'How can digital pulses possibly be effective against rodents and bugs?'" I wrote. "The commercial does not adequately tackle that issue." May be one reason why it took them two years to make it into the IMS Top 50.

13. EZ COMBS
Pitch: "Fabulous hairstyles instantly!"
Marketer: TELEBrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Date Reviewed: October 30, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Good commercial
Outcome: No. 45 on the IMS Top 50

"[A]n interesting product that really only has one weakness: It's a fashion item," I wrote. But this time (as opposed to Bumpits), I came down on the side of it working.

14. PURE SLEEP
Pitch: "Stop snoring on the very first night guaranteed!"
Marketer: Pure Sleep
Producer: Unknown
Date Reviewed: November 13, 2007 (full review)
My Score: 4 out of 7, Good/Excellent commercial
Outcome: No. 47 on the IMS Top 50

"This is a well done commercial for a challenging product -- challenging because the market is crowded with snoring solutions and because snoring isn't a universal problem (although it is a common one)," I wrote. "The price point won't help, either [2 pay of $29.95]. It's just too expensive for DRTV buyers." It seems I underestimated the pain of this problem and people's willingness to spend money to solve it (although this is another one that took two years to make the IMS Top 50). A good learning for me: Certain categories aren't as price sensitive as others, and it is possible to break the $20 price barrier at times. Knowing when is the tricky part!

15. POINT 'N PAINT
Pitch: "Trim an entire room in minutes!"
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Adcomm
Date Reviewed: September 8, 2008 (full review)
My Score: 4 out of 7, Good commercial
Outcome: No. 48 on the IMS Top 50

You'd think the success of EdgeMaster, a hit I know a lot about, would have helped me get this one right. But no, I blew it. My problems were with the product. "I have trouble believing it could be used for painting," I wrote. "I get that its triangular tip is probably useful for edging (although an edger is included as a bonus), but I don't get how smearing paint on a wall is better than rolling it on or brushing it on." I still don't get it ... but America apparently does.

16. LOUD 'N CLEAR
Pitch: "Turns ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing!"
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon
Date Reviewed: October 6, 2008 (by Sully)
My Score: 6 out of 7 (from me)
Outcome: No. 49 on the IMS Top 50

Sully wrote the review for this item, focusing more on the things he liked about the commercial. I only took care of the product rating, which wasn't hard to get right seeing as how Listen Up had been a hit the year before.

17. SHAKE WEIGHT
Pitch: "Shake your way to firm & fabulous arms & shoulders in just 6 minutes a day!"
Marketer: Fitness IQ
Producer: In-house
Date Reviewed: September 1, 2009 (full review)
My Score: 6 out of 7, Good/Excellent commercial
Outcome: No. 50 on the IMS Top 50

There have been a few times when I called a hit and everyone thought I was crazy. ShamWow! is one. This product is another. People thought the item was absurd and a little pervy. But when I saw the women of The View talking about it, I knew it had potential.


So there you have it. My official track record for 2009 is as follows:

  • 3 out of 14 items reviewed (or 21%) ABSOLUTELY WRONG
  • 9 of 14 items reviewed (or 64%) ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
  • 11 of 14 items reviewed (or 79%) RIGHT (5 out of 7 or better)

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