August 26, 2013

The True Top Spenders of 2013 (Mid-Year)

The peer review period is over. Here are the True Top Spenders for the first half of 2013:

(Click to see the full list)

And now, here are the big winners ...

True Top Marketer: Allstar Products Group!

Although technically tied with 2012 champ Telebrands for the number of campaigns that made the list (9), Allstar has the most new campaigns and thus takes the title. That is, eight of nine campaigns had not appeared before (compared to five of nine for Telebrands). Congratulations to a great group of true professionals. This is the fourth time they will wear the belt (not counting seasonal titles). They were also the Best Marketer of 2009, the True Top Marketer of 2011 and the True Top Marketer of mid-year 2012.

As for the other major players: IdeaVillage was a close third with eight campaigns (five of them new), Emson tied for fourth with rising star Hampton at four campaigns a piece, Tristar logged a respectable three campaigns, and Ontel did not appear on the list for the first time (although I'm certain we'll see them on the full-year chart).

True Top Producer: The Schwartz Group!

Demonstrating they are more than 'just' the champions of food DR (see Side Socket and Grip Go), this talented team from sunny southeast Florida reigns supreme with five campaigns on the list -- for three different marketers, no less! Major kudos to them! This is the first time they will wear the belt (although they did briefly hold a seasonal title in 2011).

As for the other major producers: 2012 champ Concepts was a close second with four campaigns on the list, 'Steady Eddie' Blue Moon tied for third with upstart Zoom TV, and seven other familiar names all appeared twice on the chart.


Finally, my track record with regard to the new items on the mid-year list is as follows:

  • I predicted four were "likely to succeed" (Grip Go, Perfect Pancake, Zoomies/Zoom 300, Rabbit TV)
  • I was "on the fence" about nine
  • I predicted six were "unlikely to succeed" (Cat's Meow/Kitty Carousel, Side Socket, Ice Cream Magic, Ultimate Detangling Brush, Flex-Able Hose, MSA 30X)
  • I did not predict "hit" or "bomb" for any of the items appearing (whew!)

My biggest misses: Cat's Meow, Side Socket and Flex-Able Hose. In my defense, I had pretty good reasons for all three. For instance, pure pet toys have never worked on DRTV ... until Cat's Meow, that is. The same is true of multi-outlet gadgets like Side Socket. I have personally failed with several. I can see why the latter worked (more painful problem solved, great Schwartz Group creative) but not the former. In fact, I predict at least five cat toys will test and fail in the next year as people try to replicate that outlier's success.

Then there's Flex-Able Hose. It was part of a triple duel where one player had a huge head-start (X-Hose, the only hose to appear on the 2012 chart) -- and the other player was Telebrands. Yet somehow, this campaign survived and thrived, at least on TV. At retail, there's no question Telebrands' Pocket Hose completely dominated the field.

So there you have it: The year so far. Got something to say? Post a comment.


  1. Nice job with the rankings. You deserve a lot of credit to gather the data. Not sure about your Top Marketer call. The joint ventures shown occur after the "founding marketer" has found the item, produced the spot and perhaps tested it. On a sheer volume basis it looks like Telebrands?

    1. Reply

      Thanks ... and a good comment worth addressing. Partnerships do add a wrinkle. However: a) They are common among the major players these days; b) Telebrands also engages in this practice: I just didn't know which projects (if any) were from partners; c) It is a testament to Allstar that they have so many partners.

      That last point is worth considering further. After all: What makes a company a top marketer? Is it the ability to pick great products? Not necessarily, given that most experienced firms know how to do this with some degree of consistency, and all tend to look in the same places and woo the same product sources.

      Is it the ability to make great commercials? Again, not necessarily. All firms outsource their creative to the same producers. As an example, the True Top Producer has hits with three different companies, including three with the True Top Marketer.

      No, what makes a company a True Top Marketer is the whole package. Allstar certainly has the ability to pick its own winners (Forever Comfy, Grip Go, Side Socket), and I know from experience that they are hands on when it comes to the creative process. But they are also great at managing the process that quickly identifies strong items and/or moves them from development to test to rollout. And they have the discipline required only to push campaigns into retail that can deliver high-volume sales, which secures their position as a preferred vendor of the major chains (and in turn allows them to fully maximize winners). Perhaps most important, they excel at cultivating long-term relationships by giving partners a fair deal -- which brings us full circle.

      It's worth noting that Perfect Pancake is more than just an Old Gold item. It is the result of a partnership that has lasted more than a decade and produced an impressive string of hits. Thus, long-term relationships with great product partners may be the most important skill a top marketer can have. It has certainly helped give Allstar the edge.

  2. You make good points and have changed my mind.

  3. Did you do a ranking within the Top Spenders?