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]
  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]
  5. Epi Smooth. Pitch: "Lasts longer than shaving." Comments: Hot category, weak product. I could not discern a real point of difference. [ss]
  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]
  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]
  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]
  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]
  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
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

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
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
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
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
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
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.

Style Clips

Description: Headbands with clips
Main Pitch: "Get exciting new hairstyles with a twist of the wrist"
Main Offer: $10 for a set in black or tortoise
Bonus: 'How To' DVD (no additional shipping)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Concepts TV
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I have only two things to say about this one ...

One, Concepts is the hottest production company in the industry right now (see here and check out my upcoming True Top Spenders report). If you take a look at today's reviews and my other recent posts, you'll see why. Almost every DRTV company is giving them projects, and I know that's because they are efficient, experienced and a pleasure with which to work.

Two, the industry puts out about 50 hair commercials every year, and Concepts produces 49 of them! More to the point, only one of those 50 ever rolls out. This is a low-odds category that everyone chases, thinking they have found the next Bumpits.

Shape Ems

Description: Pump-up bra inserts
Main Pitch: "Let you add up to one, two, three full cup sizes instantly"
Main Offer: $19.99 for a set in nude or black
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Harvest Direct
Producer: Concepts TV
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You can tell this industry is controlled by men. No matter the track record of the category or the viability of the item, every DRTV company has tried at least one breast enhancer and one butt enhancer in its history. (Some marketers have tried 10.) I mean, this is a Reebok Pump for a woman's chest. Enough said.

Full disclosure: I was involved in a first attempt (see #9) to market a product like this. Hey, I'm only human!

Nu Pillow

Description: A memory foam pillow case
Main Pitch: "Does for your head what those expensive mattress toppers do for your bed"
Main Offer: $19.95 for standard/queen
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Kerrmercials
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

With certain high-ticket items, it makes sense to save money by restoring/improving them instead of replacing them. But a pillow? Only the most foolishly frugal would pay $20 to turn their old pillow into a memory foam pillow when you can buy a new memory foam pillow for $35 at Wal-Mart.

Perfect Polly

Description: A motion-activated fake parakeet
Main Pitch: "So lifelike, it's the world's perfect pet -- and it never needs feeding"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one
Bonus: $15 'As Seen on TV' card
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

One of the 20 or so truly bizarre items Telebrands will test this year. There must be some reason they put this one up, but I can't guess what it might be.

On a separate note, this is a rare example of an item testing without a real bonus. Sometimes it works. I'm also curious to see if the gift card idea, which I have been noticing on a lot of Telebrands sites these days, turns out to be a viable bonus on its own. When it comes to offers, these guys are always innovating and leading the industry.

September 06, 2012

Grip Go

Description: A hands-free mount
Main Pitch: "Instantly grips any phone for safe driving"
Main Offer: $10 for one with dashboard mount
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Starring: David Jones
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Prediction: Likely to succeed

I can't remember exactly what I thought about this product when I first saw it. I remember liking the 'out the window' demo, which was faithfully reproduced in the spot. But I also recall being skeptical about a phone mount working on DRTV.

As with Snap-2-O, it was the Schwartz Group creative that settled it for me. Once again, they've taken the mundane and made it magnificent.

It's rare that I look at a spot and have nothing to say (as readers of this blog can attest), but that's exactly what happened in this case. In fact, it made for one of those uncomfortable moments only another consultant could truly appreciate. "Um, well, I don't quite know how to put this, Mr. Client. I could certainly make something up, so you'd feel like I was doing my job. But, um, I have no feedback for you. Zero. I think it's just about perfect ... Here's my invoice!"

Dueling Knives

Review: Yoshi Glide

Description: A combination steel/ceramic knife
Main Pitch: "The sharpness of steel with the non-stick ease of ceramic"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Free pairing knife, four steak knives (just pay S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon
Prediction: On the fence

Review: Kijo Knife

Description: A ceramic, serrated knife
Main Pitch: "Sharper than steel with superior edge retention"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with peeler, cutting board
Bonus: Bread knife & pairing knife(just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tempo 3000
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This duel suprised me for two reasons. First, it pits two halves of a great team (the same team that gave us Yoshi Blade) against one another, seemingly for no good reason.

Second, though less creative in its approach, the Yoshi spot is more captivating. The difference-maker is the anonymous "knife worker" featured in the commercial. Whoever he is, he's at the top of his game and mesmerizing to watch in action. Check him out for yourself to see what I mean.

That said, both projects are a long shot. Yoshi Blade was the first ceramic knife sold for a mass-market price, a rare example of a value play carrying a DRTV campaign. Now, inexpensive ceramic knives abound. So I'm pretty sure the moment has passed.

Orgreenic Everlast Diamond

Description: A new version of the #1 pan (HT: Nathan B.)
Main Pitch: "The revolutionary non-stick ceramic cookware that's infused with the magic of diamonds"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the 10-inch pan and cookbook
Bonus: 2nd pan, Always Sharp Knife (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: N/A

In a word: Ouch! The new True Top Spenders list leaves no question about which campaign won the duel (Orgreenic: #1, Yoshi Blue: #20), so this is just piling on. Guess I was right about the end of gentlemen's rules.

Magic Max

Description: A thin wallet
Main Pitch: "The minimal wallet with maximum capacity"
Main Offer: $10 for one in black, brown, tan or pink
Bonus: 2nd one in same color (just pay P&H)
Starring: Tim Goewey
Marketer/Producer: Zoom TV
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This is a total gut call, but I don't think people will like the design of this wallet. The double-cross design is a bit odd looking and doesn't seem like it would be very secure.

If America disagrees with me, the project has a decent shot. Although there have been several misses in this category recently, there have been many hits throughout DRTV history. Recent examples include Aluma Wallet and Slim Clip. Plus, this is one of the few designs I've seen that could actually appeal to both men and women.

As for the commercial (and the name), it's cleary an homage to the first DRTV wallet success, Magic Wallet. However, they didn't fully commit to the positioning. The only "magic" in the spot is a strange animation of disembodied magician hands and a wand.