December 27, 2012

Steam 10

Description: A microwave cooker
Main Pitch: "Amazing meals in 10 minutes or less, and all in your microwave"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one with recipe book
Bonus: Casserole steamer (just pay separate S&H)
Starring: Chef Tony Notaro
Marketer: Eagle Eye Marketing
Website: www.Steam10.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

There was a time when I believed microwave cooking items could work on DRTV again. But I saw too many items fail this year, and I now believe this is another dead category. I'm not exactly sure why, but my lead theory is that the microwave has lost its cachet.

If we go back in DRTV history, we find that microwave products had their heyday right after microwaves hit 100% market penetration. The latter half of the 90s were the golden age. In 1996, Micro Roast (a cooking dome) and Micro Chip (a potato chip maker) both made the top 30. In 1998, Telebrands' Keep It Hot broke into the top 20. And in 1999, Emson's Quick Minute Dehydrator reached No. 16.

Then came the turn of the century. Since that milestone, I can only find one microwave hit on the charts, Tristar's Egg Wave (No. 11 on the 2000 JW Annual). It seems the microwave lost its cool in the 21st century.

Having waited the requisite decade, many DR marketers are now panning for 'Old Gold' and failing to find it. Even new ideas like this sort of cooker (see here and here, for example) have been tried without success. I report, you decide -- but the facts are pretty compelling.

Power Puff

Description: A vibrating makeup applicator
Main Pitch: "Gives you a flawless finish every time"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with three pads
Bonus: Lighted makeup mirror & travel case (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.GetPowerPuff.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This one strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. At best, it's low on the problem scale. Most women I know seem to be able to apply their makeup just fine. The proof is in the pitch, which had to reach for a more aspirational promise: perfection. And that's always tricky from a credibility standpoint.

Not that this product is without merit. In this November post, I mentioned an innovation technique that looks at a successful invention and asks, "What else can it be?" The creators of this product obviously did that with Gilette's vibrating razor, the Fusion. However, an additional question DR marketers should ask in these situations is, "Would the original invention have been successful on DRTV?" In the case of the Gilette Fusion, my answer is no. The "VibraShave Pro," or whatever name a DR player would have used, would most likely have flopped.

Undercover Watch

Description: A faceless watch
Main Pitch:"The watch disguised as a bracelet"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.UndercoverWatch.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Is this watch cool? Or dorky? The answer is in the eye of the beholder ... and that's the problem with this project (or any project like it). It's a pure gamble.

Sometimes an item has a strong utilitarian element that enhances or overcomes its design. For example, Allstar's Buxton Bag would not have worked if it were a regular bag. But its ability to hold a ton of stuff in a compact space won the day.

In this case, people have to like this watch's faceless design. The product does not have a reason for being otherwise.

Good Housekeeping Reviews

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute recently posted 14 reviews of 'As Seen on TV' products (HT: Michael W.).

Included in the round-up are Telebrands' Edge of Glory (#1) and Lint Lizard (#4), Allstar's Hot Booties (#2) and Swivel Store (#12), and IdeaVillage's Easy Feet (#5) and UGlu (#13).

Also included is the No. 3 True Top Spender of the first half of 2012, Flex Seal (#9) ... but the review is not good at all.

December 21, 2012

Weekly Round-Up


Merry Christmas!

  1. Air Curler. Pitch: "The revolutionary new styling tool that creates the perfect curl every time." Comments: Revolutionary? No. Bizarre? Yes. Sure to be parodied? Definitely! I mean, they actually used the line, "just like a cotton candy machine." [ss]
  2.  
  3. Backup Juice. Pitch: "The battery booster that goes wherever you go." Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing. Comments: Although I like the item and have taken a hard look at this category many times, I think products like these are too ubiquitous in the marketplace. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Bed Defense. Pitch: "The simple, non-toxic, all-natural and clinically proven way to make sure the bed bugs don't bite." Comments: Fear. Prevention. An invisible problem. It would be hard to choose a worse project for DRTV. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Bell + Howell Bell Tunes. Pitch: "Ring in the holidays with the wireless musical doorbell." Marketer: Emson. Comments: Based on the spot, this looks like another revival item, but it doesn't make much sense given the plethora of options already at retail. Of course, the pitch is also highly seasonal. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Cool 'N Comfy. Pitch: "The cooling gel pillow that's an oasis for your face." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Paddock Productions. Comments: Written and co-produced by yours truly. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Cord MD. Pitch: "The fastest, easiest way to keep your cord tangle free." Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing. Comments: This is something you pick up at the hardware store, not something you jump off the couch and "order now." [ss]
  12.  
  13. My Appy Pets. Pitch: "Combine(s) fun apps with a cute, plush pet." Comments: Seems a bit elaborate and techie for your average kid. We've come a long way from the simplicity of "it's a pillow, it's a pet." [ss]
  14.  
  15. My Coffee Press. Pitch: "The only single cup, French Press-style, K-cup brewer on the market." Comments: This project just launched and is already #1 on the Jordan Whitney. Somehow I think that's not a real ranking and it isn't going to last. My thoughts on the product? Looks like a complicated contraption for a simple cup of coffee. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Night Skin. Pitch: "An advanced nighttime cream that targets your most visible signs of aging." Comments: A very crowded category. [ss]
  18.  
  19. Panama Coin. Pitch: "A (sic) historic tribute to the rarest gold coin ever minted." Marketer: Lipenwald. Comments: Not even going to guess here since coins are far from my area of expertise. [ss]
  20.  
  21. Safe 'N Sound. Pitch: "The fast and easy way to back up your digital photos." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Paddock Productions. Comments: Written and co-produced by yours truly. [ss]
  22.  
  23. Skinny Skillet. Pitch: "A specially designed pan that drains the fat away from your food." Comments: The prevailing theory is that fat-reduction on its own isn't enough to sell a product anymore. We'll see. [ss]

December 18, 2012

Like Nu

Description: A sneaker restorer
Main Pitch: "Transforms worn shoes back to brand new in two minutes or less"
Main Offer: $10 for the kit with cleaning brush
Bonus: 2nd complete kit (just pay P&H)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Plymouth Direct/Media Enterprises
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuyLikeNu.com
Prediction: On the fence

I think there is a need in the marketplace for this sort of product, and the creative is very credible and compelling (as I would expect from this team).

What puts me on the fence, once again, is a negative DRTV history. Years ago, I worked on an ill-fated project with a sneaker-cleaning pitch. Then in December 2011, Telebrands tested Sneaker Saver, which also apparently failed.

As an interesting side note, and just by coincidence, I chose two Hutton-Miller projects today that are second attempts at failed Telebrands projects (the other is Ontel's Crisp It!). Regardless of the outcome of these tests, it's a great opportunity for perpetual students of DR like me to add case studies to our file on the difference a change in creative can make.

Crisp It!

Description: A mesh baking tray
Main Pitch: "Heats and re-heats food to crispy perfection"
Main Offer: $10 for 2 trays
Bonus: Fast Fry Slicer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuyCrispIt.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I liked this product when I first saw it and thought it had a real shot at success. Then it failed a Web test -- decisively. Then Telebrands tried it on TV, and it also failed.

Notably, the Telebrands creative was done by The Schwartz Grosup, the reigning champions of 'Food DR'. This creative is equally excellent. I particularly liked the rubber tire opening (a dash of on-point humor that's become a signature of this creative team) and the use of sound effects to reinforce the USP. However, it's apparent from the test before that even great creative from a great creative team isn't enough to get DRTV buyers interested in this one.

December 17, 2012

Hydro Cloth

Description: A cleaning cloth
Main Pitch: "Cleans any stain off any surface with just water"
Main Offer: $10 for five cloths
Bonus: 5 more cloths (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.BuyHydroCloth.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The 'cleans with just water' pitch has been tried before without success. (See item #4 in this round-up for example.) The big brands have trained consumers to believe that real cleaning involves chemicals with anti-microbial ingredients that leave a 'clean smell' behind. That means this product ends up being just another cleaning rag -- and those are plentiful enough already.

December 13, 2012

Weekly Round-Up


The Obama Victory Dollar

  1. Abdometer. Pitch: "Takes ineffective ab exercises and makes them easy, fun and effective." Comments: I think this one's a bit too nerdy to be the next hot ab item. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Bagwell. Pitch: "Holds food storage bags open for you." Comments: This was already tried (see Better Bagger). [ss]
  4.  
  5. EZ Tweeze. Pitch: "Removes unwanted facial hair straight from the root." Comments: Both a spring hair remover (Twist Away) and an at-home threading device (item #13 in this report) have been tried without success. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Flipsters. Pitch: "Foldable footwear you take with you to put on any time, anywhere." Comments: At one time, it seemed every DR marketer was chasing foldable shoes like these. They all failed. Because of the seasonality, foldable flip-flops make even less sense. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Founding Fathers Coin Collection. Starring: Governor Mike Huckabee. Marketer: The Franklin Mint. Pitch: "An artistic masterpiece commemorating their [the Founding Fathers] courage and spirit." Comments: An attractive product under a strong brand -- and Gov. Huckabee was an excellent choice for spokesman. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Licsicle. Pitch: "Give your pet something tastier to lick." Comments: Odd item. Doesn't solve a problem, so this is a pure gamble on pet owners liking the concept. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Q Stick. Pitch: "Facial hair remover at your fingertips." Comments: Speaking of Twist Away and things that have been tried before ... [ss]
  14.  
  15. RevAbs. Starring: Brett Hoebel. Marketer: Beach Body. Pitch: "Learn my secret to getting a six-pack in 90 days." Comments: Seems run-of-the-mill to me, but Beach Body knows a lot more about fitness DR than I do. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Victory Dollar. Pitch: "Honor the re-election of President Barack Obama." Comments: Hard to guess the rationale for this one. The Obama hype died years ago, and the half of America that voted for the other guy would only buy this as a hedge against hyper-inflation. [ss]

November 29, 2012

Weekly Round-Up


The Doorman: Old Lead?

  1. Card Lockers. Pitch: "Blocks scanners from stealing your credit-card information." Comments: Been there, tried that. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Comfort Smart. Pitch: "Fireplace with exclusive new infrafred technology that heats up to 600 square feet." Comments: There are a lot of these in the marketplace, and this one is no real bargain at 4 payments of $49.99. [ss]
  4.  
  5. The Doorman. Marketer: Emson. Pitch: "The amazing new portable intercom system that works just like a walkie-talkie." Comments: This is a revival of an item I reviewed back in April of 2008. Although I liked the original product a lot, it never went anywhere. If a revived hit is "old gold," what's a revived flop? Old lead? [ss]
  6.  
  7. Drop Down Drawer. Pitch: "The amazing, hanging storage solution." Comments: I maintain my theory that with the exception of random outliers (Swivel Store) and shoes (Shoes Under), storage solutions aren't mass-market enough for DRTV. [ss]
  8.  
  9. ElimiTag. Pitch: "Painlessly eliminates your pesky skin tags." Comments: There's only room for one, and Tag Away is the one. The commercial claims the product is the original, but to quote the great Al Ries: "First in the marketplace is worth nothing. First in the mind is worth everything." [ss]
  10.  
  11. Metaball. Starring: Greg Plitt. Pitch: "An entire gym in one ball." Comments: I like the product, and I know kettle bells are hot ... but I know very little about the business model for trial-offer fitness items like this one. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Tailor's Secret. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Pants too tight? Instantly add up to two extra sizes." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' So far, it seems Perfect Fit Button (see #4 under "Got It Wrong") is an outlier, not a category.
  14.  
  15. Wraptastic. Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill. Marketer: Hampton Direct/Lenfest. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The super-smart dispener that lets you pull, press and wrap -- just like that." Comments: I'm too close to this one, so I'm just 'posting for posterity.' [ss]

November 27, 2012

Push Pan

Description: A cake pan
Main Pitch: "Makes perfect cakes the first time, every time"
Main Offer: $19.99 with bake stand
Bonus: 6-inch personal pan (just pay separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyPushPan.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This commercial runs out of demos about halfway through, moving from familiar to odd-looking dishes and resorting to strained arguments like "show off your baking skills." That's usually a good indication the product isn't right for DRTV. Add to that the fact most people only bake cakes for special occassions (if they bake at all), and this one is a real long shot.

Lashfull

Description: An eyelash enhancer
Main Pitch: "The eyelash boosting serum that will help your own lashes become fuller, longer and sexier in just four weeks"
Main Offer: 30-day trial (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Hutton-Miller
Producer: Media Enterprises/Plymouth Direct
Website: www.Lashfull.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

My prediction here is based on DRTV history and past experience. Several products similar to this one have been tried without success. As I wrote in my review of Guthy-Renker's Lash Appeal, I think that's because "Latisse owns the market, and it [this type of product] is not DR-friendly."

I mentioned past experience, and that story is worth telling. When Latisse was new, well before any of the usual DR players had thought about lashes, an outside company decided to bring their lash enhancer to market using DR. With a little trial and error, they got it mostly right and launched their test. However, during the testing period a mixed blessing occurred -- a talk show host decided to start raving about the product on her show. This resulted in a huge surge in sales and a ridiculously low CPO (the blessing part), so they decided to push the spending the following week. However, the hype died quickly and the campaign died with it (the mixed part). The moral of this story has nothing to do with lash products, but it did teach me something about the dangers and limitations of buzz-based marketing strategies.

Returning to this project, everything else worked for me. I liked the way the offer was handled ($9.95 P&H to try, $29.99 later). I even liked Taylor's perverted sense of humor (once again) in the opening. If it weren't for the category history, I might have predicted success.

Orgreenic Flip Flap

Description: A ceramic-coated pan
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one, batter pitcher (just pay separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyFlipFlap.com

I've lamented the demise of 'gentlemen's rules' in our industry before (see here and here), and this is another example.

As I recounted in my most recent column for Response magazine, Merchant Media & Allstar introduced the original Perfect Pancake in 2002, and it became the No. 2 hit of the year. A decade later, at the end of this September, they brought it back with the a new twist. Now comes this competitive product, which is essentially the original pan in green.

A few months ago, this would have been my first 'Dueling Old Gold' feature. But at this late date, it is hard to see it as anything but what it appears to be.

It's a shame, too. Under d├ętente, this idea would have been brought to market via a partnership. And who knows? It might have been a happy success. The ceramic cookware craze is bigger than anyone imagined, and there could certainly be room for expansion. Done this way, however, the project makes little sense. If pursued, it will be more bad PR for an industry that has worked very hard to overcome the stereotypes of the past.

As if the hose war isn't bad enough!

November 26, 2012

Hot in Australia

Apparently, I'm all the rage 'down under.' At least, I was interesting enough to be interviewed for PreneurCast, a popular podcast for entrepreneurs run by business phenom Pete Williams.

If you have an undying fascination with my ideas and about 45 minutes to kill, you can listen to the interview here.

SciMark Report from November Response

My SciMark Report for November is now available on the Response Website.

In the column, I discuss "old gold" and review two revival items: Perfect Pancake [ss] and Back Relief Belt [ss].

SciMark Report from October Response

Although it doesn't appear on the department page, my SciMark Report for October is available on the Response Website.

The items reviewed are: Rocky Mountain Pure [ss], FrostyBowlz [ss] and Dura Wallet [ss].

November 25, 2012

No Slip

Description: An anti-slip spray
Main Pitch: "Literally turns your home into a no-slip zone"
Main Offer: $19.95 for a jumbo can
Bonus: Double the order (just pay P&H)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Harvest Direct
Website: www.BuyNoSlip.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Phil Swift did something that was once thought to be impossible: He took a 'chemical in a can' and made it into a huge DRTV hit. Before Flex Seal (No. 1 on my True Top 50 of 2011), there were only negative case studies. The question everyone has been asking since then: Was it a fluke? Or did Mr. Swift discover something we can learn from?

My answer: Apparently it was a fluke. For my evidence I turn to ... Phil Swift. Since Flex Seal, Mr. Swift has tried three other chemicals in a can -- Blast Off, Foamazing and Slick Fix (amusingly, the opposite of this product) -- none of which seem to have gone anywhere. In fact, the only successful item he's had since Flex Seal is ... Flex Seal in white. It seems there was a good reason for the common widsom.

Getting to this product, that's the major problem I see with it. I also think this is a prevention item that will only appeal to super-cautious seniors, and history has shown there aren't enough such people to sustain a DRTV campaign.

SteamBoat

Description: A microwave steamer
Main Pitch: "[The] flexible silicone solution for steaming all kinds of food"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one with recipe book
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay separate fee)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.SteamBoatSteamer.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

As I explained in my recent review of Rapid Red Express, I think microwave cooking is a dead DRTV category -- and even the industry's top pitchmen (Marc Gill in the previous case, Sully in this case) can't sell past that fact.

Not that some of the solutions being offered lately haven't been interesting. For instance, I really liked the Perfect Micro Crisper because the idea of making crispy food in the microwave is novel -- albeit hard to believe. This item has the reverse problem: It's believable (microwaves can certainly steam food), but the food options are fairly limited. The lead item in this spot is a steamed omelet, which (besides sounding awful) should tell you something.

Much of the rest of the pitch mimics Lovin' Leftovers, which flopped, so I don't see this one going very far.

Kitty Carousel

Description: A cat toy
Main Pitch: "Keeps your kitty entertained at play both night and day"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Lenfest
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.KittyCarousel.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I'm generally down on pet toys for DRTV. Every one I can think of has failed, including items like this one (see Mouse Chaser). That's because the pet category is not immune to the requirements of the Divine Seven -- with the possible exception of price. The issue here: Not solving a problem.

The best pet items for DRTV are the ones that solve a problem for both the pet and the owner. Emery Cat, for example, satisfied a cat's natural urge to scratch while keeping cat owners from the unenviable task of trimming their cat's claws. Incidentally, that spot was also done by Concepts, the experts in 'cat DR' -- if there is such a thing.

The bottom line is that items like these are really just novelties intended for amusement (in the same way teasing your cat with a laser pointer is amusing). Like in some other categories -- hair gizmos come to mind -- there's a 1 in 50 chance you could hit it just right and find a toy that resonates with a majority of cat owners. But those are pretty long odds for anyone who wants to keep their shirt in this business.

Toetastic

Description: Toe-separating slippers
Main Pitch: "Dense memory foam insoles cushion and cradle your feet in heavenly comfort"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one pair
Bonus: 2nd pair (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Website: www.BuyToeTastic.com
Prediction: On the fence

This product is a cross between an 'Old Gold' item (Comfort Pedic slippers) and an unsuccessful item (Toe Align) I worked on years ago. The latter was a pair of toe-separating socks (similar to these), so it seems the toe idea alone is not enough.

With this item, even if you don't buy into the benefits of toe separation, you at least get a pair of memory-foam slippers. Whether that's enough to take this over the top is hard to guess.

Rapid Red Express

Description: A microwave cooker
Main Pitch: "The amazing new pressure-cooking sensation that works right inside your microwave"
Main Offer: $10 for one with recipe guide
Bonus: Double the offer, Ever-Sharp Knife (just pay separate fee)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.RapidRedExpress.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

My prediction is based on the recent track record of microwave cookers. Every recent example I can think of (EZ Eggs/Egg Gourmet, Magic Meal, etc.) has struggled or been a 'fast fail.' It seems DRTV buyers are no longer interested in this type of solution.

November 15, 2012

Ruggies

Description: Reusable rug grippers
Main Pitch: "Keep rugs and mats in place ... to prevent slips and trips"
Main Offer: $10 for eight
Bonus: Eight more (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar/Lenfest
Producer: Opfer
Website: www.BuyRuggies.com
Prediction: On the fence

Marketing expert and Jack Trout co-author Steve Rivkin says that one way to innovate is to look at an existing product and ask, "What else could it be?" The famous example of this is John Osher's SpinPop, which became Dr. John's SpinBrush and then P&G's Crest SpinBrush, earning Osher and his partners $475 million.

While this item is likely to earn its inventors much less than that amount, it is an example of the same principle at work. Someone looked at the material used to make Vince Offer's Schticky and Telebrands' Sticky Buddy and asked, "What else could it be?" (The team was no doubt also inspired by the bonus item for their earlier hit, GoJo Hands Free.)

Whatever the case, I like the product and the focus. The product solves a common problem, and the focus is narrow (on rugs), which is usually a good thing in DR.

On the other hand, good DR commercials usually start narrow and then expand with other uses for the product that broaden its appeal. In this case, however, there are no other uses -- and that might limit the appeal.

Wax Vac

Description: An ear cleaner
Main Pitch: "The safe and effective way to clean and dry your ears"
Main Offer: $10 for one with 8 tips, cleaning brush
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay separate P&H)
Marketer: Lenfest/Hampton Direct
Producer: PB&J
Website: www.WaxVac.com
Prediction: N/A

This item is already No. 15 on the IMS, so it is too late to make an honest prediction. However, I will cop to my original prediction: highly unlikely to succeed.

My (clearly wrong) opinion was that Q-Tips are a 'good enough' solution to the problem of dirty ears -- despite the supposedly dire warnings (which seem to have no impact on robust and regular cotton-swab sales). I was told of people that have problems cleaning their ears properly -- and told of all the problems that go along with that -- but I didn't believe there were enough of these people to sustain a DRTV campaign. For instance, the guy in the opening of this commercial probably shouldn't be left alone with a fork or any other pointy object.

What can I say? I was wrong. I'm not as smart as I think I am. On a related note, kudos to the guy who is as smart as he thinks he is and got this one right (you know who you are).

Weekly Round-Up

(Editor's Note: This posting has been corrected. The original version erroneously reviewed the bonus for the Zmart Switch instead of the switch itself.)


Splot stain remover

  1. Pant-O-Rama. Pitch: "Pants designed to slim the stomach, eliminate muffin tops and enhance and lift the buttocks." Comments: Amateur hour. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Rotator Rod. Pitch: "The shower rod that gives you the space you need when in the shower and then ... rotates to get out of the way." Comments: This is a solution to a solution. That is, it solves a problem with a new product most people don't yet own -- which is about as logical as it sounds. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Splot. Pitch: "The instant stain sucker." Comments: This is an over-engineered solution to a problem currently being solved by any number of brand-name cleaning products. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Zmart Switch. Pitch: "The revolutionary wireless remote switch that lets you control any light from anywhere." Comments: Back when we did Handy Switch with the late, great Billy Mays this was a relatively new concept. These days, not so much. I recently did some market research for a similar product, and it became clear the idea is no longer unique. [ss]

November 08, 2012

Insta Grip

Description: A reusable adhesive tape
Main Pitch: "The fast, easy way to hang, hold and make virtually everything stay"
Main Offer: $10 for a giant roll, mini roll & 2 sheets
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Art & Michelle Edmonds
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.GetInstaGrip.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

This one is all about the work that went into the creative. The product itself would probably fail to generate excitement at most of the product meetings I attend. But the creative really sells it, and reminds me of the great work this production team did on Mighty Putty back in the day.

Interestingly, I saw demos in this spot from at least three other commercials that have tested in recent years. None of those products was strong enough to carry a campaign, but I like that this product nails every one of those key demos and more. It's better and more useful than U-Glu, and that campaign had a decent run, so I expect big things.

Speaking of nailing it, the Edmonds husband-wife team is flawless in this commercial. They move effortlessly around each other, feed off each other, tease each other and generally operate as a perfect pitching unit. Kudos to them for the top-notch work.

Heavy Sleeper

Description: A loud alarm clock
Main Pitch: "So loud it's guaranteed to wake you up and get you going"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill (VO)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.HeavySleeperAlarm.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

They missed it: This should have been the Marc Gill Heavy Sleeper alarm clock. I doubt anyone could sleep through an alarm that featured Marc's booming voice! And what a great opportunity to cross-sell customers. "Good morning! Marc Gill here for the ..."

Joking aside, I've tested several alarm clocks over the years, and they always fail. I even tried this positioning once. No-go. My guess is this niche is too small, and the category is crowded with too many other options.

Weekly Round-Up


Hug-A-Lots (Attempt #492)

  1. Detail Doctor. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "Restore your car to showroom new, instantly." Comments: A second attempt at Crazy Coat with a new name and straightforward creative approach. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Hug-A-Lots. Pitch: "Soft, comfy friends that give lots of hugs." Comments: People are still trying to be the next Pillow Pets, even at this late date. Actually, this one is more trying to be the next CuddleUppets. I actually like the product a lot, but the timing is still wrong. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Lock-it Block-it. Pitch: "Burglar proof and child proof your windows." Comments: Fear. Prevention. Amateur hour. [ss]
  6.  
  7. MaxiBrush. Marketer: InvenTel. Pitch: "Tame frizz and eliminate static with the ultimate adjustable styling tool." Comments: Neat product, but I know of no hair brush that has performed well on DRTV. Perhaps that's because the category is so crowded at retail. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Nasivent. Pitch: "Anti-snoring device that improves nasal breathing." Comments: Looks uncomfortable! However, snoring is one of those weird categories where people will try anything, so who knows? [ss]
  10.  
  11. SciRelief. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Reduces sciatic pressure and makes any chair comfortable." Comments: There's only room for one, and Allstar's Forever Comfy is the one. (Or is the seat pillow category like the head pillow category with room for three at a time?) The claims here also seem risky. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Snap Span. Pitch: "Holds and locks bags open." Comments: A (highly) seasonal product that doesn't solve a painful problem. Prediction: Bomb. [ss]

November 07, 2012

Honeycomb Hangers

Description: A picture-hanging system
Main Pitch: "Hang pictures accurately and professionally in just seconds with no tools"
Main Offer: $14.95 for 6 large, 4 small and 10 hooks
Bonus: 2nd complete set (just pay P&H)
Producer: Infomercials Inc.
Website: www.HoneycombHangers.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

There are certain types of items I am pitched at least once per year. One (for some reason) is pooper scoopers, which always fail for a reason I recently blogged about. Another is picture-hanging gadgets. But no matter how cool the gadget, the project never rolls out. In fact, this type of item is officially on my 'don't bother' list.

I think the reason is simple: Hanging a picture must be an itch, not a heart attack. Most people have figured out how to do it correctly by now. Yes, it's a nuisance -- but not much more. There is also the matter of frequency. Much like painting, it's hard to catch people at the moment of need. You have to convince them to think ahead to the next time, and preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness.

I should also note that part of this system is the Hercules Hook, an item that was successful the first time it was tried and unsuccessful the second time it was tried.

On a positive note, I really like the urgency device used about halfway into this spot. A person is shown dialing a phone while the VO says, "Get your phone and get ready to call the number on your screen. There are only about 65 seconds left until the end of the commercial." It's a safe, alternative way to employ the technique that made the line "call in the next 10 minutes" infamous.

Egg Beats

Description: A non-electric speaker
Main Pitch: "The self-powered silicone speakers for iPhones"
Main Offer: $10 for one in blue, pink, orange or green
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay S&H), 2 screen protectors
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Website: www.GetEggBeats.com
Prediction: Bomb

The one doesn't make any sense to me. Regarding the product: Why buy this when you can buy a real kickin' mini speaker for just $5 more? Also, it only works with iPhones. Actually, it only works with new iPhones. Talk about a segment of a segment.

As for the commercial, doing an all-animation spot for an item that is bound to raise questions and believability concerns is a really bad idea. The with/without sound demo is a case in point: It has zero credibility.

I've used this product, and the sad part is it's really neat! There must be a better way to pitch it on DRTV. This isn't even close.

AeroKnife

Description: A knife
Main Pitch: "Light as air, cuts like a razor and nothing sticks"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: Edge of Glory, Serrated AeroKnife
(just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.AeroKnife.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

No single knife has ever done well on DRTV -- except Yoshi Blade. In fact, one of the projects in my negative case study is Sully's own Zasshu Knife, which was never heard from again.

I think the reason Yoshi Blade succeeded where other single knives have failed is because it was a great value play. People were aware of ceramic knives, but they cost $50-$100. I also think this knife will follow the previous pattern and go the way of the Zasshu.

On a side note, it's good to see Sully having fun with his spots these days. Tongue-in-cheek lines like "you wanna cut the cheese" and "great cluckin' chicken" (shades of Ernie Anastos for those of us from the tri-state) may not sell, but they show the pitchman doesn't take himself too seriously. It worked for Vince Offer ("you're gonna love my nuts"), so I don't see why it wouldn't work for Sully, too. (OK, the rubber chicken might be a bit much.)

November 05, 2012

Going Viral Guaranteed

Great news for anyone who wants their DR campaign to go viral: Using this product, it's guaranteed! (HT: AdWeek)

(E-mail readers click here.)

Texas Fry Basket

Description: A deep-fry basket
Main Pitch: "A quick and easy way to enjoy fair favorites"
Main Offer: $10 for one with 50 fry sticks & recipe guide
(defribrilator not included)
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.TexasFryBasket.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

VIEWER WARNING: Certain high-risk individuals may need to take a statin before watching this commercial.

This is the Chef Basket with a narrower -- and much less healthy -- focus. I doubt it will work for two reasons. One, Chef Basket did more and is only two years old. Two, I think people want to cook and eat healthy. Going to a fair and having fried food forced upon you (at gunpoint, I swear!) is one thing. Buying a deep-fry product and preparing it at home yourself is another.

That said, and yet again, I like how Telebrands rolls. DRTV theory says "narrow is better" and Swiss Army products don't work. Chef Basket is an exception to the rule, but maybe a more narrowly focused version can also be proof of the rule. If so, Telebrands will find out.

There is also a larger trend/counter-trend rule, which says that for every American who wants their burger joint to have a good salad choice, there's another American who wants their burger joint to have the biggest, greasiest, most tasty burger possible. Telebrands will discover if this rule applies to DR as well.

RemoveZit

Description: A zit remover
Main Pitch: "Removes unsightly blemishes instantly and gently"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H), 10X mirror
Starring: Someone named "Liz"
Marketer: TV Goods
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.GetRemoveZit.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

First of all: Gross! Squeezing zits is right up there with scoopers picking up poop on my list of things people don't want to see on TV. Shock value can sometimes grab attention and improve sales (e.g. the pulsating nerve being cut in that Peticure commercial), but it can also have the reverse effect. For instance, and speaking of which, every excrement-related product I've ever reviewed has failed (pooper scoopers, plungers). Maybe the reason is this: Pain sells, gross-outs don't.

OK, maybe I'm overreacting here. The creative downplays the gross stuff and ends up looking more like a Finishing Touch spot. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to describe this as a Finishing Touch for zits. The only problem is the product doesn't have the same credibility. A micro-oscillating loop? This isn't exactly a no!no! device.

The problems here are much weaker as well. We're told that using your fingers to squeeze a zit isn't "so clean." We're also told it can make "acne worse" and "cause skin damage and scarring." But I don't think most people think about that or believe it. That's in contrast to hair removal, where the problems are obvious and commonly perceived.

Uncle Freddy's Leather Wonder

Description: A leather restorer
Main Pitch: "Makes old leather look new again"
Main Offer: $19.99 for a bottle and applicator
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Ontel
Website: www.BuyUncleFreddys.com
Prediction: On the fence

I'm honestly not sure where I stand on this product. My gut says the popularity of leather has declined significantly in recent decades, but I have no data to back that up. It just seems a lot less common than in, say, the 1970s and 1980s. Less leather means less need for a restorative product, so this product may end up being a niche item ...

Or I may be totally wrong. There is no recent track record on DRTV for this category, so perhaps it is an opportunity in waiting.

As for the commercial, I felt all of the demos lacked credibility. Even the junkyard and horse ranch demos, which were set up like 'right before your eyes' magic demos, came across as obvious tricks. Like soap and water would have done the same thing. And I think that will hurt sales.

October 19, 2012

Fuel Mizer

Description: A fuel economy monitor
Main Pitch: "The new way to use less gas and save more cash"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: None
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.GetFuelMizer.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I used to believe that a fuel-saving product was a lay-up in times of gas-price spikes, and I once spent months actively looking for such a product. After all, it's a painful problem that's always in the news. But when I did some more research, I discovered that the government is a major impediment to success. (See, for example, this Dura Lube action from 2000.)

Over time, I also thought more carefully about the value propositon of a fuel saver and realized it would be hard to convince people to spend $20 at retail (or $50 on the phone) in order to slowly recoup that outlay over time. It's the same challenge energy-saving products face, and the reason they don't ever seem to find success. "It pays for itself!" doesn't work well if that takes months and months.

This product faces an added challenge: It's a 'nanny device.' Most people are already irritated by those dings and bongs and flashing lights that are constantly nagging them to close their door or put on their seatbelt. The last thing they're going to want is some new device criticizing their driving all the time. You're braking too hard! You're accelerating too fast! It's like paying to have a cranky old lady in the car with you at all times.

Perfect Fries

Description: A french-fry maker
Main Pitch: "The fastest, easiest way to make delicious homemade, natural-cut fries in seconds"
Main Offer: $10 for the cutter and recipe guide
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H), Perfect Fries Basket
Starring: Steve Harkey
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing
Website: www.PerfectFries.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I would have predicted success for this item if I hadn't Web tested a home fry maker about a year ago and seen the dismal results with my own eyes. Apparently, people really don't want to make homeade, natural-cut fries. That could be because frozen fries are so readily available at supermarkets. Or it could be that fries are a guilty pleasure people enjoy infrequently when eating out.

Weekly Round-Up


Ontel employs the 'pro strategy'

  1. Akira. Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Paddock Productions. Pitch: "Japanese precision blades give you the perfect shave." Comments: Great value proposition, but wet shaving is the ultimate crowded category, and I can't see most men choosing this razor over the latest 54-blade, lighted, ultrasonic razor. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Blade Buddy. Pitch: "Maintains the sharpness of your razor blades for months, saving you money." Comments: This product was tried last year under the name Razor Rx. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Can Cooker. Pitch: "An updated version of the old cream can, which was used by farmers/ranchers to cook a hot, hearty and homemade meal while everyone worked." Comments: Jeff Foxworthy called. He says, "If you buy this product ... you might be a redneck." [ss]
  6.  
  7. Dr. Frank's Comfort Bites. Pitch: "An easy and tasty way to help your dog be comfortable and move easily." Comments: Dr. Frank returns to DRTV. His pain sprays were DRTV hits in 2007 and 2008. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Curvassure. Pitch: "Tone, tighten and firm your butt without exercise." Comments: Although I appreciate the cleverness of the name (pause between syllables and you'll get it), this is a really bad idea. Why? Because of this and this. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Foot Fridge. Pitch: "The only innersoles that massage with every step." Comments: Insoles are on my list of bad categories. I can't think of a single one that has ever been a DRTV success. This amateur hour project from "down under" is unlikely to be the exception. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Iron Gym Max. Marketer: Ontel. Producer: LoudMouth TV. Pitch: "Get strong ... get ripped ... faster." Comments: Ontel is employing what I call a 'pro strategy' here. By introducing 'new and improved' versions of hit items every few years, some marketers are able to extend the life of hits at retail. The classic examples are IdeaVillage's Finishing Touch and MicroTouch hair trimmers, now in their fifth? sixth? reincarnation and still selling strong. Iron Gym was a solid hit in 2009. Let's see if the 'pro strategy' works in fitness. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Moth Blocker. Pitch: "The clear, odorless moth protection that applies in seconds." Comments: A solution in search of a problem. [ss]
  16.  
  17. My Twinn. Description: A doll created to resemble a child between three and 12. Comments: I'm going to order one of these, and I shall call him ... mini-me! Seriously, am I the only one who wouldn' buy this for fear it would come to life at night? [ss]
  18.  
  19. No Blade Fan. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "A smooth, cool breeze without the danger of blades." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' [ss]
  20.  
  21. Scoop Free. Pitch: "The world's first self-cleaning litter box you can leave alone for up to 30 days." Comments: This is an old idea (see Litter Maid), and the Allstar hit Sift & Toss (No. 38 on my True Top Spenders list) is $9.99 at retail with no strings attached. [ss]

October 16, 2012

Next Up on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

If you thought Shake Weight was sexually suggestive, wait until you see this! (email readers click here)

Unlike Tug Toner, this is an actual infomercial from Korea (HT: Anderson Live). So let's have some fun writing one-liners for Jimmy Kimmel's next show. You can use the comments section to share yours. Here are mine:

  • If they also showed the models using a Free Flexor, they could put this one on pay-per-view.
  •  
  • Rumor has it the producers had to bring in a steel-reinforced couch for this casting session.
  •  
  • In the American version, a leering Tony Little will stand next to the models yelling, "You can DO IT!"

You've been a great audience. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

October 15, 2012

'Pitch Battle' on Steve Harvey

DRTV pitchman and super nice guy Beau Rials (most recently of Half Time Drill Driver fame) emailed to give me the heads-up on a fun 'pitch battle' that's going down this afternoon on Steve Harvey's new show (promo above or here).

Beau, Anthony Sullivan and Marc Gill are the participants. It airs at 3pm on NBC here in the greater New York area. Set your DVRs!

October 11, 2012

ShaBAM!

Description: A multi-purpose cleaning sponge
Main Pitch: "The biggest technological breakthrough in stain removal in years"
Main Offer: $14.95 for 12
Bonus: 12 more, plus 2 scrubbies & 2 shammies (just pay P&H)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Marketer: Harvest Direct
Website: www.BuyShabam.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Poor Marc Gill has gone from speaking French to speaking Ebonics in the space of one month!
(I'm teasing, Marc. You know I'm a big fan.)

Moving on, I'll start with the positive: the creative. It's really good, and it's not just Marc. Whoever came up with the idea of having him start the spot by writing directly onto the screen -- thereby doing the key demos 'in your face' -- is brilliant. (That's assuming it's an original idea, as you never know in DR.) If only great creative were all that was needed to sell a product, this would be a guaranteed winner!

Of course, it's not. And this product will ultimately fail because it has already been done and you can buy it everywhere. As a general rule, going up against a billion-dollar P&G brand is never advisable.

(Author's Note: I didn't bother to address the argument that "this product is different/better" because I have too much respect for the players involved to believe they used that as a rationale for going forward. There must be some other rationale of which I am unaware.)

Triple Sonic

Description: A 3-head sonic toothbrush
Main Pitch: "Proven to thoroughly brush the front, back, sides and top of your teeth, all at the same time"
Main Offer: $10 for one with extra head & stand
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: David Jones
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.TripleSonicToothbrush.com
Prediction: On the fence

Back in the day, one of the fastest ways to achieve short-form success was to identify a successful long-form product and create your own, value-priced version. (I am choosing my words carefully so as not to imply judgment.) Lately, that approach has become less common -- although it hasn't gone away entirely. The Ahh Bra/Genie Bra example comes to mind.

This is another case in point. The long-form success is 30 Second Smile from Ideal Living (formerly Sylmark), which sells for 2 payments of $29.95. This value-priced version has a very similar pitch (get results in 30 seconds, brush all parts of your teeth at once) but sells for just 1/6th the price. A guaranteed winner, right?

Not necessarily. If ever there were a chance to prove the theory that price communicates quality (a dubious idea, in my opinion), this is it. A $10 professional-quality sonic toothbrush should be a contradiction in terms. But the bigger issue for me is that 30 Second Smile has been on the market for years. If there was ever a short-form opportunity, I think it has passed. We'll see.

Smart Sprinkler

Description: A sprinkler
Main Pitch: "Lets you control the spray, so you can water exactly where you need it"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Smart Timer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Website: www.BuySmartSprinkler.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The problem this solves doesn't register very high on the pain scale, so I don't see this one going very far. It's also out of season now. Otherwise, this is a pretty neat item, and I can see it doing well in other channels -- maybe even at retail if people understood what it was and were presented with the option when sprinkler shopping.

Solar Top Light

Description: A solar-powered outdoor light
Main Pitch: "The wireless, self-charging light that turns on at night"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials/Paddock Productions
Website: www.SolarTopLight.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I will soon be officially 'eating crow' about another light product from this particular marketing team (i.e. Olde Brooklyn Lantern). So does that means I am rethinking my position on the lighting category in general? Not at all.

As always, I follow the 'one is an outlier, three is a category' rule -- even when we are talking about category re-boots. And I've seen no second or third success out there that would lead me to believe the lighting category is back. If anything, I'm still seeing lots of failures, especially when pre-DRTV tests (e.g. Web tests) are taken into account.

As for this specific item, I like it but have had no success with this pitch in the past. People either don't view outdoor lighting as a pressing problem, or they don't trust DRTV products to get the job done.

Pop Arts

Description: A food cutter
Main Pitch: "Create stunning, edible masterpieces ... in just minutes"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one "popper" with 14 cut-out shapes
Bonuses: Recipe book, skewers, tomato corer, strawberry huller
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Infomercials Inc.
Website: www.PopArts.com
Prediction: On the fence

I have always thought that an at-home Edible Arrangements kit could be a DRTV success. This will be a good test of that hypothesis. My only issue is the creative is all over the place. Where it focused on fruit arrangements, I thought it was really good. When it started showing elaborate cookie arrangements and the like, it lost me. Only Martha Stewart could pull off some of the ideas shown!

Other than that, I liked it -- especially the repeated use of "sonic branding" (aka the "pop" noise) to drive interest and make the product memorable.

October 05, 2012

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Codee. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "Follow the coded combination of numbers, symbols and letter" to "twist, click and create." Comments: This seems a bit complicated and involved, but the H-M production team knows a lot more about this type of DR than I do. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Dr. Belt's Back Fix. Pitch: "Sleep well, feel well, live well." Comments: No magic and too simplistic to sell anyone. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Doodle Gelz. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "Just doodle, peel and stick." Comments: I am too close to this one to give an unbiased review. [ss]
  6.  
  7. EZ-Sweetz. Starring: George Stella. Pitch: "The delicious liquid sweetener that's truly zero calorie, zero carb and zero glycemic index." Comments: No one is buying a sweetener off TV, no matter who pitches it. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Micro Pedi. Marketer: Emjoi. Pitch: "Make your feet baby soft, simply and safely." Comments: Great product, but similar items have failed. Also $10 too expensive for DRTV. [ss]
  10.  
  11. My Pill Wallet. Pitch: "The easy way to store and organize your pills." Comments: There are hundreds of these at retail and in catalogs, and the few previous attempts to market a pill organizer have all failed. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Perfect Pane. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The new glass treatment that protects windows for up to 12 months, guaranteed." Comments: Written by yours truly. (Watch the spot above or here.) [ss]
  14.  
  15. Rivet Strips. Pitch: "The convenience of a peel-and-stick tape with the powerful bonding strength of a permanent epoxy." Comments: This is only the second time I have ever seen a man in a gorilla suit used in a DRTV commercial. I think it will be as successful as the first time. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Seat Pets. Pitch: "Buckle up and snuggle up." Comments: Attempt #403 to hit it big with a plush toy and emulate Pillow Pets' success. It's a seatbelt! It's a pet! [ss]
  18.  
  19. Track N Go. Marketer: Allstar. "Amazing pedometer records steps, calories and more." Comments: A 'fast fail.'

September 22, 2012

SciMark Report from September Response

My SciMark Report for September is available on the Response Website.

Reviews include: Tag Away [ss], No Mess Kitchen Board [ss] and Pleasure Pedic [ss].

Weekly Round-Up


Hulk Hogan is now pitching pain relief

  1. Ab & Thigh Shuffle. Pitch: "Burn calories and fat in just minutes a day." Comments: Yet another fitness project making those classic claims the FTC just loves. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Active Relief. Starring: Hulk Hogan. Pitch: "Reduce pain in as few as 7 days." Comments: Speaking of the FTC ... And poor Hulk! First PumMagic. Now the video for this campaign has been removed (never a good sign). Guy just can't seem to get hooked up with a good DRTV campaign! [ss]
  4.  
  5. Epi Smooth. Pitch: "Lasts longer than shaving." Comments: Hot category, weak product. I could not discern a real point of difference. [ss]
  6.  
  7. EZ Vue. Pitch: "The lightest, most convenient reading glasses ever." Comments: This concept has failed multiple ways and multiple times (see My Lil' Readers). It's just too easy to walk into a drug store and find dozens of options. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Green Glider. Starring: Jason Williams. Pitch: "End the disposable trend." Comments: My perception is that every attempt to pitch against Swiffer has failed. My instinct is that people love the product and don't care that they have to buy replacement pads. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Lap Pro. Pitch: "The amazing hands-free stand for e-readers, tablets and books." Comments: Allstar tried a few products like this (e.g. Happy Sack) without success. [ss]
  12.  
  13. PoniLox. Pitch: "The only pivoting hair comb that easily creates instant updos." Comments: Another one of the 50 hair projects that will be tried this year in hopes of it being the one that catches on. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Seal 'R' Up. Pitch: "The easy way to seal up any bag instantly." Comments: Still a bad idea. [ss]

Genie Jewels

Description: A ring and necklace set
Main Pitch: "Contains a powerful magnet that lets you switch the stones instantly"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the ring and necklace
Bonus: Additional stone for each, gift box, certificate
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.GenieJewels.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Jewelry, like clothing and fashion, is a tough sell on DRTV because the buying decision involves matters of taste. The difference-maker is when the product solves a real problem. For example, normal "wear" (i.e. clothing) would never sell on DRTV -- too many choices and tastes -- but shapewear sells because it conceals fat.

Returning to this project, IdeaVillage once used magnets to solve the problems caused by tiny jewelry clasps. The resulting campaign (Clever Clasp) was a solid success. But using magnets to allow woman to change stones is just a gimmick, and that means this product will only succeed if somehow a lot of women like the look of this set and feel they can't get it elsewhere.

SciMark Report from August Response

I'm a bit late in noticing this, but my SciMark Report for August is available on the Response Website.

Reviews include: EZ Eggs [ss] & Egg Gourmet [ss], Stick N Click [ss] and Neat Keeper [ss].

September 18, 2012

Triple Duel! Two new hoses enter the arena


www.XHose.com

For only the second time in recent DRTV history (first time here), a triple duel is now underway. Actually, it's a 'dual duel' between two players trying to be second to market after X-Hose, which I reviewed in the June issue of Response magazine. Here are the challengers ...

Pocket Hose

Main Pitch: "The hose so small, it fits in your pocket"
Main Offer: Starting at $12.99
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Adcomm
Website: www.PocketHose.com
Prediction: On the fence

Flex-Able Hose


Main Pitch: "Expands up to three times its original length"
Main Offer: Starting at $19.95 with a 7-way spray nozzle
Bonus: 2nd one with spray nozzle (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.FlexableHose.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

As if the innuendo weren't strong enough with "X Hose," Telebrands had to go and name their version (which you can watch "grow and grow and grow" to a "long, full-size hose") the "Pocket Hose"? What's next? "Trouser Snake," the clog-clearing tool that fits in a man's pants pocket?

Joking aside, I like Telebrands in this 'dual duel' because they hit a lower price point and actually put a little positioning work into the project, rather than just following what had been done before. Also, this is clearly a retail play, and Telebrands' total dominance at retail is apparent.

That said, both projects are very late to market, which is to say X-Hose has a huge headstart. Unless the distribution team for that program is dropping the ball, I can't see either of these also-rans taking much market share.

Crazy Coat

Description: A car restorer
Main Pitch: "It's like a time machine in a bottle"
Main Offer: $10 for two 4-ounce bottles
Bonus: Two 'clean hand' applicators (just pay P&H)
Starring: Jason Williams
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Website: www.GetCrazyCoat.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Jason Williams channels Lesko in this spot, which attempts to do something I don't think has ever been done before: Successfully sell a car restorer on short-form DRTV. Feel free to contradict me, but (with perhaps the exception of some Simoniz product) every attempt has gone nowhere. So while I don't have a problem with the creative approach per se -- someone needed to do something to break through here -- I do have a problem with the category in general.

Two other criticisms: One, it strikes me as awfully late in the season to test a car product. Don't most people focus on their cars in the spring? Two, I didn't love the demos in this spot. Most of them look gaffed, like mere water would have done the trick. I think that hurts the credibility in a way that could suppress sales.

Table Makeover

Description: A table cover
Main Pitch: "Gives an expensive marble look to any table in seconds"
Main Offer: $10 for one (4 print options)
Bonus: N/A
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.GetTableMakeover.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This strikes me as one of those random catalog sellers DRTV marketers like to try every so often. In fact, Telebrands has tried something like this before. The only explanation for this repeat attempt that makes any sense is hot sales in another channel such as a catalog. But whereas I liked the concept orginally, these days I can't see an item like this going very far -- especially at $10 without a second fee (?).

September 09, 2012

The True Top Spenders of 2012 (Mid-Year)

The review period is over, so here is the final True Top Spenders list for the first half of 2012, including all of the marketer and producer credits I have:

And now -- just in time for ERA -- here is your True Top Marketer and True Top Producer (drumroll, please) ...

True Top Marketer: Allstar Products Group!

Allstar takes the top spot with TEN roll-outs on the list. This well-oiled machine is cranking out hits every way possible, from growing them at home to partnering for success. They are a true testament to the power of treating people well and maintaining a great reputation. Major kudos to them.

Meanwhile, Telebrands was a close second with nine roll-outs, including the No. 1 campaign of the first half, Orgreenic. Everyone else trailed from a distance.

True Top Producer: Concepts TV!

Concepts quietly dominated the field with SEVEN legitimate roll-outs during the first half of this year. Concepts has always been consistent, having at least one or two roll-outs every year for the better part of three decades. And now, these lovely ladies (and, um, guys too) can also take credit for havingthe most roll-outs of any producer. Congratulations to them!

The next closest producer was The Schwartz Group with an impressive five roll-outs, including (once again) the No. 1 campaign, Orgreenic. As an interesting side note, every Schwartz roll-out during the first half of this year was a food-related item, which is why I have declared this team the undisputed champions of 'Food DR'.

September 08, 2012

Hot Huez

Description: Hair chalk compacts
Main Pitch: "The eye-popping color that glides on for instant, galmorous fun"
Main Offer: $19.99 for 4 compacts & 12 sponges
Bonus: Color chart, carrying case
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.HotHuez.com
Prediction: On the fence

I have mixed feelings about projects like these. One the one hand, successful campaigns like Salon Express (#23 on my True Top Spenders list for the first half of 2012) and Shimmer (#39 on the list) indicate fun body fashions for youngsters can be successful on DRTV. We're almost at the 'three' that would make a category. Perhaps this will be the third one.

On the other hand, past failures (e.g. Bling String) and the fact that the sweet spot for DRTV is a much older demographic always reduce the odds of success for these items.