February 27, 2013

Nu Spa

Description: A bath brush with multiple heads
Main Pitch: "The easy way to clean and moisturize all those hard-to-reach places"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one with sponge, loofah & applicator heads
Bonus: Callous remover, pumice brush & travel bag; then offer doubles (just pay S&H)
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.BuyNuSpa.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This product reminds me of Spin Spa, an IdeaVillage hit from 2006 (No. 16 on that year's JW Annual). I just don't see the concept coming back, though, especially not in manual form.

A related problem is the offer. I helped launch Spin Spa, and we worked hard to avoid the 'Swiss Army' problem that plagues items with multiple features. The team here did not work hard -- or at least not hard enough. They crammed too much into the spot and made things worse with a 'kitchen sink' offer that will leave viewers confused about what this does, what it comes with and why they need it.

On a side note, a version of this product and pitch was tried back in 2008 under the name SkinFinity. Is this a case of 'old brass'?

Big Boss Egg Genie

Description: An egg cooker
Main Pitch: "Makes perfect hard boiled, soft boiled or medium boiled eggs every time"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Bacon Wave (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.BuyEggGenie.com
Prediction: N/A

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Emson does more brand extending than any other DRTV firm. The three Bell + Howell items on the True Top Spenders list are a case in point.

This product was last done in 2008 and, if memory serves, it had a decent run. Bringing it back under the Big Boss brand makes a lot of sense, provided retail support is the goal.

Otherwise, I say this one goes the way of EZ Eggs/Egg Gourmet.

Weekly Round-Up

Tristar's Magic Glove

  1. Acne Dots. Pitch: "A revolutionary way to target each and every blemish individually." Comments: Neat idea but I think big money is needed to launch a successful acne product these days. [ss]
  3. Butt Shaper. Pitch: "Get the toned, sexy butt you've always dreamed off without going to the gym in just two minutes a day." Comments: Another shot in the dark in the fitness category. [ss]
  5. Magic Glove. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "Cleans every surface in your home quickly and easily." Comments: Narrowly focused cleaning gloves (e.g. Scrub Glove) have been tried before without success, so this one went broad -- all over the place, in fact. But the problem with an unfocused position is it loses much of its selling power. It's a DR Catch-22. [ss]
  7. Party in the Tub. Pitch: "Just turn it on, drop it in and let the bathtime party begin." Comments: I like the product, but I'm not sure it's strong enough to support a DRTV camgaign. [ss]
  9. Sweet Roll. Pitch: "The quickest hair styler ever." Comments: Another one of the 50 hair products that will be tried this year. It could be the one that succeeds, but oddds are it will be one of the 49 that doesn't. [ss]
  11. Trillion Dollar Coin. Pitch: "The most controversial legal tender in the history of US coinage." Comments: I like the strategy here. With no retail play, coins are well positioned to take advantage of timely opportunities like this one. Very clever. [ss]

February 25, 2013

Glow Pets

Description: Pillow Pets that glow
Main Pitch: "Just squeeze the paw and they light up"
Main Offer: $29.95 for one
Bonus: None
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Infomercials Inc.
Website: www.GlowPets.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

It's easy to predict success for this project. First, the basic concept (a pillow that lights up with LEDs) has already been successful. It's called Bright Light Pillow, and it's No. 26 on my True Top Spenders for 2012.

Second, Ontel is well into the sort of brand-extension strategy I discussed in my most recent Response column. In this variation, the big success (Pillow Pets) becomes a so-called "umbrella brand" for the line. Dream Lites (No. 6 on my True Top Spenders for 2012) was first, and now this item. Regardless of its profitability on TV, it is all but guaranteed to get ad support and go to retail, where I'm sure it will do well -- especially in fourth quarter.

Finally, this project comes with another great commercial from the folks at Infomercials Inc. The way they are able to capture childlike wonder in their commercials is unparalleled.

An interesting side note: This is the second IdeaVillage 'idea' Ontel has borrowed to expand its Pillow Pets line. As mentioned, this product follows Bright Light Pillow, an IdeaVillage success. Lesser known is that Dream Lites followed Dreamy Time Turtle, an IdeaVillage near-miss that essentially did the same thing.

Another interesting side note: Just like this isn't the first time a glowing pillow has been done, it also isn't the first time a glowing pet has been done. About this time last year, Telebrands acquired and tested a glowing bear called Glow Buddy that failed to roll out.

SciMark Report from February Response

The print edition of the SciMark Report for February is now available on the Response Website.

In the column, I use IdeaVillage's HD Vision Foldaways [ss] and National Express's EZ Pockets [ss] to talk about what I believe is a sea change in the DRTV industry.

February 15, 2013

Obsidian Update

In my Weekly Round-Up yesterday, I covered an item called Obsidian and wrote: "This is an 'Old Gold' item from the 90s, but I can't think of what it was originally called. Shoot me an email if you know."

Much thanks to everyone who wrote in. Phil A. nailed it: The item was called ExerSlide. You can see it in action here.

Elizabeth A. also gets an HT (hat tip) because she remembered that Reebok put out a similar product called the Reebok Slide. A video of that product is here.

Which came first? I'm not sure. But kudos to my readers for having such excellent memories!

February 14, 2013

Maximum Traction

Description: An anti-slip spray
Main Pitch: "The powerful, non-skid coating that's got the grip to stop the slip"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one can
Bonus: 2nd can (just pay processing)
Starring: Phil Swift
Marketer: Swift Response
Website: www.MaximumTraction.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I have a tip for anyone who wants their next DRTV project to be a guaranteed success: Make sure the product is plain white. Why? Because Wax Vac, the hottest item on the short-form charts right now, is plain white.

Ridiculous, you say? Well, I get around the industry quite a bit, and I can tell you that this is a common way of thinking. People don't go so far as to cite a product's color as the reason for its success (at least not since the iPod came out), but I'm not exaggerating by much. When a company has a big hit, more often than not, they will chase at least 10 more items strictly based on the fact they have something in common with that hit. And that's of the 50 items they will be presented.

I bring this up because I fear Mr. Swift is mired in this sort of fallacy. It's a type of syllogism that goes like this: Flex Seal was a huge hit. Flex Seal came in a can. Therefore, my next huge hit will come in a can.

Another possibility is that Mr. Swift is so in love with the kind of revenue that a replenishment item generates, he can't bring himself to try one-time purchase items (aka hard goods). That's understandable. Certain big companies won't even consider launching a new product, no matter how innovative, if it doesn't have some component that needs to be replenished. If possible, they'll even make it more replenishable than it needs to be. Why do you think Swiffer pads are disposable? But that sort of thinking is best left for companies with billion-dollar brands to sustain them.

In our business, it's hard enough to find a hit. Limiting yourself to one type of item is a good way to give back all of the profit you made on your last success. Unfortunately for Mr. Swift, I think he's well on his way to proving that point with what is likely to be his fourth failure in a row.

Besides, does he really think he can out-pitch Marc Gill?


Description: A self-powered light bulb
Main Pitch: "The light that goes on when the power goes off"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.RemarkABulb.com
Prediction: On the fence

Speaking of syllogisms ...

The attempts at finding the next hit emergency light won't be limited to this company, either. I expect to be writing about emergency lights for the next year at least. The allure is often more intense at companies that don't know the inside story of the hit that started the trouble (which is the Olde Brooklyn Lantern in this case). All kinds of myths and theories arise to explain why the unexpected occurred. It's a major trap, and a big reason I continue to preach: One is an outlier, three is a category.

Of course, I'm a hypocrite. I tried an emergency light both before and after 'OBL' became a hit. It was mainly because of timing, but there you have it.

Another problem with what I wrote above: I really like this item. It's a 'wow' type product that just kept getting cooler as the commercial went on. Of course, replacing your regular bulbs with these bulbs, on the off chance there's a power outage, would be expensive and highly impractical ... But then there's the remote-control feature, which is also very cool! Unfortunately, I know from experience that DRTV buyers aren't excited by that idea anymore ... But it becomes a flashlight, too!

You can see why I'm on the fence.

Lift Away

Description: A wrinkle treatment for the décolletage
Main Pitch: "Designed to lift away chest wrinkles while you sleep"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Starring: Megan Gunning
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.MyLiftAway.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Here is a recap of the last three years' worth of attempts at selling a wrinkle treatment on DRTV:

In fact, when I search this blog for wrinkle products, I can't turn up a single success ... which makes it highly unlikely that this product, which doesn't even focus on the biggest problem area for women (the face), will succeed.

Co-Z Cushion

Description: A tablet/book holder
Main Pitch: "The ingenious, adjustable caddy for your tablet that turns a tough time into comfy time"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Website: www.CoZCushion.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This is the third attempt at selling a tablet and/or book holder I've noted in as many weeks (Book Genie and Lappy were the other two). This might have been a 'dueling products' feature except the designs and functionality of each product are quite different. I guess we are going to find out if this is a category very quickly.

Although this product has a much better design than the others, I stand by my earlier comments: "The problem this product solves is fairly low on the pain scale" and the "pitch is really about convenience, which is typically insufficient for motivating people off the couch."

Weekly Round-Up

The Bowflex Uppercut

  1. Antidote. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: "The simple, safe, and healthy way to get the salon smooth look you want, instantly!" Comments: The hair-care category, like cosmetics and many other beauty categories, is dominated by powerful brands that spend millions on advertising. That's why random DR entries like this one will always face an uphill battle. [ss]
  3. Bowflex Uppercut. Pitch: "Develop bigger arms, shredded shoulders, rock hard abs and a chiseled chest." Comments: If Perfect Pushup wasn't an outlier, this is a credible candidate for a sequel. The Bowflex people certainly know how to produce a high-quality fitness spot. [ss]
  5. Chef Cradle. Pitch: "The easiest way to roast and serve." Comments: A clever solution to a problem with roasting meat. My question: How often do people roast meat? [ss]
  7. Fresh Sticks. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: "Gets rid of the odors and puts back the freshness." Comments: This is a second attempt (or retail push) without HSN's Joy Mangano as host. The five-problem opening is a bit unusual, but it worked for me because they showed the product and said its name every time. It's an interesting way to present a solution for many problems. [ss]
  9. Obsidian. Pitch: "Slide your way to a toned, chiseled body." Comments: This is an 'Old Gold' item from the 90s, but I can't think of what it was originally called. Shoot me an email if you know. In any case, I have no idea if it can make a comeback. I do recall that an item called Booty Slide was tested twice and didn't go anywhere. [ss]
  11. Whip Magic. Starring: Sandra Dee. Pitch: "The amazing 6-in-1 shaker." Comments: I like the core concept here (see also Blender Bottle), but the '6-in-1' pitch will doom it. Swiss Army products simply don't sell on DRTV, and you can see why when you watch this spot. It gets confusing fast. [ss]
  13. Wave Magic Cooker. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Anyone can cook like a pro." Comments: According to JWGreenSheet.com, this 'fast fail' was a "ceramic microwave pan designed to prepare many flavorful dishes in five minutes or less." The spot showcased "omelets, poached eggs, shrimp scampi, chocolate soufflé" and other recipes. It seems my theory about the microwave stands.

February 06, 2013

Clear TV

Description: A digital TV antenna
Main Pitch: "Why spend hundreds of dollars per year for cable and satellite-only channels when you can watch broadcast television for free?"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: None
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.BuyClearTV.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This project should have been killed in a much earlier phase with the asking of a basic question: "Who is the target market for this product?" I can only come up with three answers:

  1. People too poor to afford basic cable (in which case, good luck running their credit cards)
  3. People who only watch broadcast TV
  5. People who are somewhere cables can't go (like on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, as shown in this spot)

Market size is key in DR, and when you are patching together small groups in uncommon situations, you should move on to the next product idea.

Ionic Maxx

Description: An ionic air purifier
Main Pitch: "The revolutionary new air purifier and ionizer ... that will have you breathing easier in no time"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay S&H)
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.IonicMaxx.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Although unlikely to succeed on DRTV (see my Healthy CFL and Fresh Spot reviews), I think this project is very likely to be the next addition to the Bell + Howell line at retail. Which reminds me ...

In my soon-to-be-published Response column for February, I wrote about my belief that line and brand extensions will be a necessary survival tool for DRTV companies going forward. I specifically mentioned several top companies, but forgot to mention Emson -- the company that has done the most brand extending in recent years. The ubiquitous Bell + Howell brand is a prime example.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Fur Genie. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Concepts TV. Pitch: "Magically removes fur from furniture, carpets and more." Comments: Schticky and Sticky Buddy had this problem/solution as part of their pitch. It will be interesting to see how a more narrowly focused product will do. [ss]
  3. Glam Caddy. Pitch: "Organize up to 200 beauty essentials." Comments: Outside of two specific examples (shoes and spices), there is no evidence to support the idea that organization is a viable DRTV category, and every makeup organizer ever tested has failed. [ss]
  5. Lappy. Pitch: "The best ergonomic tablet holder and protective case ever made." Comments: Second attempt. Let's see if book/tablet holders are viable for DRTV. My guess? Not. On a side note, I always find these overly specific superlatives amusing. Oh, of all the ergonomic tablet holders and protective cases out there, this one's the best? Glad they cleared that up. [ss]
  7. Little Black Pant. Pitch: "Simply the best-fitting pants you'll ever own." Comments: This won't work as a straight DR product, but maybe that isn't the play. [ss]
  9. Photo Chest. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Store up to 4,000 digital photos on this USB flash drive." Comments: This is Telebrands' version of Safe 'N Sound (see #11). [ss]
  11. Poach Master Pro. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Make perfectly poached eggs in your microwave in minutes." Comments: A 'fast fail.' In general, I don't see poached eggs working on DRTV like omelets or hard-boiled eggs do. I think the preference for that style of eggs is much less common. (Spot is still here.) [ss]  

February 04, 2013

Light Angel

Description: A motion-activated outdoor light
Main Pitch: "The easy-to-install ... light that lights up LED bright automatically"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.BuyLightAngel.com
Prediction: On the Fence

The only reason I think this one might have a shot is the security pitch that comes later in the commercial. Otherwise, this is yet another ill-fated entry in the lighting category, which I believe is still dead (with the exception below). It's also worth noting that at least three motion lights have been tried in the last five years without much success: Redi Lite from 2007, Auto Brites and Mighty Light. But that security pitch gave me pause ... it just might resonate.

On another note, I think this is the appropriate moment to revisit my incorrect prediction for the Olde Brooklyn Lantern. In attempting to explain it, I could distinguish between emergency lighting and task or utility lighting. I could also remind everyone that one is outlier, three is a category (or category revival, as the case may be). But fair is fair, and it's time for me to eat crow: the Olde Brooklyn Lantern is a bona-fide hit. I was clearly wrong about it.


Description: A cane-like support device
Main Pitch: "The safe, effective way to help you up and down throughout your day"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: EZ Grabber (just pay P&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Website: www.TryEZUp.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

As much as some people might need this product, it's highly impractical -- especially for those who already use another assistance device. That means the ideal market for this product ends up being people with mobility issues that don't also go around with a cane or walker, and that's a segment of a segment if there ever was one.

Book Genie

Description: A book rest/tablet holder
Main Pitch: "The comfy, cozy book holder made just for you"
Main Offer: $10 for one with free reading light
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.GetBookGenie.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The problem this product solves is fairly low on the pain scale. The pitch is really about convenience, which is typically insufficient for motivating people off the couch. There are a few attempts at dailing up the need (e.g. mentioning arthritis), but they fall flat.

Another issue is the design of the product: It doesn't look like it works well or has the best shape for the task it is trying to accomplish. The tassle is strange, too. All in all, I think this one is a long shot.