April 22, 2010

Review: PetZoom Sonic Pet Trainer

Description: A pet training device that emits a high-pitched sound
Main Pitch: "Its ultrasonic pitch" gets "their immediate attention, making them instantly obey your commands"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: FREE Pet Zoom Nail Groom
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.PetZoomPetTrainer.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

In the March issue of Response magazine, I reviewed a TELEBrands' product called BarkOff and gave the campaign an S7 Score of 6 out of 7. BarkOff is a $10 ultrasonic pet training device that is primarily targeted at nuisance barking. It is the same concept as this product, but with a narrower positioning.

Sometimes, a narrow positioning is a good idea. TELEBrands certainly proved that with the success of Heeltastic and Windshield Wonder, two products that hadn't done well with a broader positioning. However, I think this is a case where the broader positioning wins. As I wrote in my review of BarkOff, the narrower positioning presents a challenge because not everyone owns a dog with a barking problem. This product is for a wider range of bad pet behaviors, many of them more common, and it claims to work on both cats and dogs.

There are a few caveats here. For one, Emson is flirting with the "curse of the line extension" by putting the Pet Zoom name on this product when it is already on so many other pet products. And then there's the tremendous strength of TELEBrands at retail. If it comes down to a situation where the consumer views these products interchangeably, I'd put my money on TELEBrands winning the battle.

April 21, 2010

Weekly Round-Up

Another eight. I may never catch up!

  1. Aqua Pearls ($10). Multi-colored beads that absorb and release water for plants (from TELEBrands and Sullivan Productions). Pitch: "They absorb over 20 times their weight in water" and keep plants "watered for up to 30 days." www.BuyAquaPearls.com
    Prediction: Likely to succeed
    I think this product has a decent shot at becoming the next Aqua Globes because, like that earlier Allstar hit, it's decorative and functional. However, it may be too soon to re-tap that particular market, and I'm not sure people will want to replace their plant soil with these "pearls."
  2. Thin Spin ($19.99). A collapsible salad spinner (from Merchant Media and Blue Moon Studios). Pitch: "It spins, it drains, it serves and it stores." www.BuyThinSpin.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    The success of TELEBrands' Flat Fold Colander aside, I don't think 'flat storage' is exciting enough to carry a DRTV campaign. Take that away, and this is just another salad spinner.
  3. Grill Grate (2 for $39.99). A grate that goes on top of a BBQ grill. Pitch: "Upgrade your grill." www.BuyGrillGrate.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    The claim is that this product "simply grills food better." But such "better than" products typically do not work on DRTV. You need more to motivate people off the couch.
  4. iSpex ($14.99). A clip for eyeglasses (from Vertical Branding and Blue Moon Studios). Pitch: "The stylish new eyeglass holder that keeps your glasses from getting lost." www.GetISpex.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    I don't think this solution is needed enough to generate the impulse to buy (an important SciMark Seven criterion). It also has a perceived value problem.
  5. Orgreenic ($19.99). A ceramic frying pan (from TELEBrands). Pitch: "A perfect replacement for all your standard non-stick cookware." www.Orgreenic.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    This is a pure value pitch, and those rarely work. Plus, you need visual magic to sell cooking items on TV, and there isn't much to look at here.
  6. Rejuvenate Auto ($19.99). A spray that cleans and shines a car (from For Life Products). Pitch: "The world’s first 15-minute waterless wash and wax." www.RejuvenateAuto.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    I'm not a big fan of this category on DRTV, and I see little here to differentiate the product from what's already out there. But then, this company seems to have more of a hybrid model that includes brand-building and retail considerations, so it may work for them in that regard.
  7. EZ Hanger ($9.95). A Z-shaped clothes hanger (from Shop TV). Pitch: "Makes hanging clothes fast and easy." www.BuyEZHanger.com
    Prediction: Bomb
    This one fails another key SciMark Seven criterion: It's not different enough to get people's attention.
  8. Smooth As Silk ($19.95). A silk pillowcase. Pitch: "You'll love the way your skin looks and feels." www.GetSmoothAsSilk.com
    Prediction: Bomb
    Lacking in two important areas: It's not very credible, and it's not demonstrable. Plus, this is really just another value pitch -- and it has competition.

Start With A Problem


The first of my 10 Tried & True (T&T) Techniques for DRTV commercials is to start with a problem. What do I mean by that? Well, the YouTube video above is the best answer I've seen to that question (HT: Fred Vanore).

E-mail readers click here to see the video.

April 17, 2010

Review: GoFit ACS

Description: A multi-functional exercise bar with a pull-up assist feature
Main Pitch: "[The Gravity Band] automatically propels you upward allowing virtually anyone to do 10, 15 even 20 pull-ups and chin-ups"
Main Offer: 2 pay of $29.95
Bonus: Free Abstraps (just pay S&H)
Marketer: GoFit Direct
Website: www.GoFitACS.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The first point I want to make (say it with me now): There's only room for one. This product is nearly identical to the Iron Gym, which just topped the annual IMS Top 50 for the second year in a row.

The nearly is interesting, though, because GoFit has hit on a real problem/solution here. When I first looked at the Perfect Pullup, I had this thought exactly. Most people I know can barely do one pull-up (let alone rotational pull-ups). Solving the problem by giving them an assist is a great idea. Many gyms have a more expensive machine that does the same thing. So it's really too bad they saddled this first-to-market idea with a third-to-market product.

On a side note, I want to use this opportunity to highlight a pet peeve of mine. I see it from time to time in commercial scripts, and I draw a red line through it every time. It's the phrase, "absolutely free ... just pay shipping and handling." Talk about a contradiction in terms!

April 15, 2010

SciMark Report from April Response

My newest "SciMark Report in print" is now live on ResponseMagazine.com (links to PDF).

Reviews include: Mighty Thirsty, Robo Stir and Spill Daddy.

April 09, 2010

Weekly Round-Up

Still getting caught up! Here are 10 more short reviews ...

  1. Perfect Lift Clip ($19.95). A bra clip that lifts. "Make almost any bra a push-up bra." www.ThePerfectLift.com
    Prediction: Bomb
    Fourth to market (after Cleavage Control Clips, Strap Happy and Strap Perfect) with a me-too solution.

  3. EZ Slimmerz  ($19.95). Shapewear embedded with skin-care ingredients (from Global TV Concepts). Pitch: "Actually smoothes, tones and firms your skin while you wear them." www.EZSlimmerz.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    Shapewear has been taken over by brands like Spanx, and what makes this unique also raises too many questions. Does it feel greasy? How long before the skin-care ingredients run out? What then? Etc.
  4. Horse Clock ($10). A clock featuring original horse paintings that makes horse noises every hour (from Lipenwald. Pitch: "The ultimate clock for horse lovers. " www.BuyHorseClock.com
    Prediction: On The Fence
    The Audubon Singing Bird Clock was a hit for TELEBrands in 1998, eventually selling five million units. Will whinnying horses have the same effect on people?
  5. Little Giant Blueberries ($10). A high-yield blueberry plant (from Lipenwald). Pitch: "Yields up to four pints every day all season long ... virtually grow themselves in either sun or shade." Grow your own delicious blueberries." www.BlueBerryGiant.com
    Prediction: On the Fence
    Lipenwald's Tree Tomato seems to do well year after year. If people have the same love for blueberries, this could be a solid performer as well.

  7. Fix It Grout ($19.95). A pen that instantly refinishes stained grout (from Simoniz, starring Joe Fowler). Pitch: "If you can draw a line, you can make it all look new again." www.FixItGrout.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    This looks like a re-launch of a product the late, great Billy Mays originally pitched. I don't recall it doing much back then, and I see no reason to believe it will do any better with Joe Fowler pitching it. The big problem: Grout is a tough category on DRTV. I've worked on two grout projects in my career; both bombed.

  9. Power Out ($10). A shoe polish-like cleaning product (from Ontel). Pitch: "The multi-task foam action cleaner that cleans it all." www.BuyPowerOut.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    This is a super-crowded category dominated by name brands, and the positioning of the product (cleans it all) is far too broad.

  11. PetZZZpad ($19.99). A heating pad for dogs and cats. Pitch: "Activates with just a step, generating warming 102-degree comforting heat." www.PetZZZPad.com
    Prediction: On the Fence
    The pet category is one of those rare DRTV categories where it's easy to have a hit, and I like the problem/solution here. However, it will make less sense as the weather gets warmer. Maybe something to try again in the fall.

  13. Sleep Toasty ($10). A blanket that reflects back your body heat (from TELEBrands). Pitch: "Like an electric blanket without electricity." www.SleepToasty.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    I must be seeing this late because it doesn't make sense for this time of year. But even in the fall or winter, I think the item lacks credibility in a way that will inhibit sales.

  15. Sumo Mug ($14.99). A mug (from Allstar). Pitch: "Absolutely can't be knocked over."
    Prediction: N/A
    Posted well after the fact for posterity only. Spot is here.

  17. Tell Bell ($19.95). A bell your dog can be trained to ring when has to go to the bathroom. Pitch: "Makes house training easy, fast and fun." www.TellBell.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    As a general rule, anything that seems like work won't work on DRTV -- and this seems like a lot of work. Add to that the credibility questions ("Will it work for my dog?) and the fact a bell trick is neat but not much more effective than whining near the door ... and I just don't see this one rolling out.  
  18. Eco Jet ($19.99). A high-pressure shower head (from Harvest Direct). Pitch: "Water pressure virtually doubles, turning a sour shower into a power shower." www.BuyEcoJetNow.com
    Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
    Government restrictions on water flow have created a real problem: Weak showers. The trouble is every shower head on the shelf claims to solve the problem. This one has a cool demo but is unlikely to win against the established brands. Also, these products require installation, and that's always a sales killer on DRTV.