October 31, 2013

Weekly Round-Up

Telebrands' Rocket Saw

  1. Rocket Saw. Starring: Beau Rials. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Cuts metal, wood, rubber or plastic with the precision and speed you need to get the job done." Comments: I'm too close to this one to do a full review, which is probably why my opinion is as follows: Awesome all around! If this one doesn't go, I'm going to add tools to my list of bad categories. [ss]
  3. Cera Temp. Pitch: "The pan that changes color to tell you when it's hot." Comments: Good visual demo, but the site is no longer live. I think DR buyers have probably had enough of pans for a while. (Spot is here.) [ss]
  5. Finishing Touch Elite. Starring: Patricia (Murphy) Stark. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "Erases unwanted hair instantly and painlessly." Comments: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. But 11 years and still going ... [ss]
  7. Infinity Lights. Pitch: "Create one of a kind light art." Comments: This one strikes me as a total gamble and a good test of the limits of uniqueness as a product criterion. [ss]
  9. Perfect Ribs. Starring: Marc Gill. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The most amazing, succulent-tasting [sic] ribs every time." Comments: Good spot, but another 'fast fail.' Made me hungry! (Spot is here). [ss]
  11. Rockin' Knot. Pitch: "Creates perfectly shaped [top] knots every time." Comments: No doubt thanks to the success of Hot Buns and Hot Huez, I'm seeing more hair products these days. Perhaps DR marketers are starting to believe the odds have improved and are now better than 1 in 50 ... but I remain skeptical. [ss]
  13. Spin Blox. Pitch: "Interlocking blocks and gears that spin and turn into live-action fun." Comments: Neat product that seems to meet the criteria (as far as I understand them). [ss]
  15. Style Screamer. Starring: Megan Gunning. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: Emits a "unique, ear-piercing woman's scream of 130 decibels." Comments: A bizarre prevention product and an understandable 'fast fail.' I did enjoy Ms. Gunning's facial expressions, though. She does a great job! (Spot is here). [ss]

October 29, 2013

Ankle Angel

Description: A zip-up compression sleeve
Main Pitch: "Get the support and comfort your ankles need"
Main Offer: $10 for one pair
Bonus: 2nd pair (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.AnkleAngel.com
Prediction: On the fence

This project represents yet another opportunity to find out if a past success was an outlier or a new category. If it's a hit, then Ontel's Miracle Socks (a True Top Spender in 2011) will start to look like the latter. If it's a flop, the former.

Two other "Miracle" items failed, but I wouldn't be concerned about either one of them. Miracle Slippers were related in name only, and Miracle Hands targeted a part of the body that doesn't seem to have the same special magic as the lower extremities.

A more legitimate concern is that this product would seem to appeal mainly to seniors, and products that skew too old don't seem to have "legs" on DRTV these days. Of course, I mean no offense to the wonderful woman who gives a testimonial in this commercial. She certainly looks young and vibrant ... and strangely familiar.

One last point of interest: This commercial does not pull any punches. It goes right after compression socks, directly indicting them as difficult to put on and take off. I found that curious given the players involved and the fact that Miracle Socks still appears to be widely available at retail.

Bust Buddy

Description: A bust-shaping device
Main Pitch: "Just squeeze and scoop (?) to fight the droop"
Main Offer: $29.99 for one
Bonus: Carrying case, DVD, Neckline Slimmer
Marketer: Hampton
Website: www.GetBustBuddy.com
Prediction: Bust (I couldn't help it)

It's no mystery why the male-dominated DRTV industry keeps trying breast-enhancement products. At the very least, the shoot is a cheap thrill. (Well, maybe "cheap" is the wrong word.) But I am a bit stumped as to why marketers keep trying products like this one ... or why names like "Bust Buddy" get approved, for that matter.

Believe it or not, there is category history here, and we are heading into third-time-never-the-charm territory. The first two attempts were Easy Curves (you have to see it) and B-Lifted -- the latter a product nearly identical to this one from 2010.

It's curious because, aside from an odd clamshell-like device I remember being somewhat popular in the 70s and early 80s, I have never seen anything to support the idea that this would sell. Maybe I am missing a critical piece of information? I did note that the marketer of B-Lifted (SAS Group) is also the original marketer of Neckline Slimmer, the bonus for this project. Hopefully there is a good back story here ... or front story, as the case may be.

Canterbury Crystal Globes

Description: A plant watering device
Main Pitch: "The hand-crafted glass ornament that waters your plants for you"
Main Offer: $14.95 for two
Bonus: Two more (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.CanterburyCrystalGlobes.com
Prediction: On the fence

While not as pretty as Aqua Globes, this product features a significant improvement over the design of that earlier hit -- namely, that it can be re-filled without removing it from the planter. But will it matter? Is the concept itself ready to make a comeback?

Aqua Globes peaked in 2008, so I say it's a bit early for that Phoenix to rise again. "Old Gold" items also have a lousy track record of late -- no matter how long ago they were hits. On the other hand, this certainly fits my main criterion for resurrecting success: It takes an old hit and adds a new twist. I give it a 50/50 shot, which is actually saying a lot these days!

Magic Apron

Description: An apron
Main Pitch: "Magically flips on with no strings attached"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Website: www.BuyMagicApron.com
Prediction: Bomb

Experienced DRTV players know it's critical for a product to solve a problem. However, sometimes marketers decide to go forward with a product that doesn't solve a problem, and this creates a dilemma during the creative process that is often addressed with what I call a "contrived problem." This creative offers a perfect example. Here are the opening lines:

Aprons are a hassle to get on and off. The ones that don't untie can leave your hair a mess. You don't want to wear it [the apron], but just a single spot can ruin that dress.

For those playing along at home, that was three contrived problems in a row. It is my assessment that they are presented in the order of 'most contrived' to 'least contrived,' but that last "problem" has been solved since aprons were invented.

Some may argue that there is no other choice but to contrive problems when presented with a product like this. I agree: Skipping the problem and going straight to "Introducing a new kind of apron!" would have been a terrible idea. But that misses the ultimate point: This project should never have gotten a green light in the first place.

Light Rod

Description: An LED light rod
Main Pitch: "Mounts easily anywhere you need light: No need for electricians, plugs or cords"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with stand & remote control
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.GetLightRod.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I think this is a cool product and a great value. (I'm not even sure how they are able to offer it for the price advertised.) But I have to go with category history here yet again. I just haven't seen any evidence that lighting solutions like this one can work on DRTV again. Indeed, I've heard the few that recently rolled out -- maybe "were rolled out" is a better way to put it -- have been duds at retail.

If anyone has any information to the contrary, I welcome your feedback. If not for DRTV history, I would probably predict success for this item.

October 23, 2013

SciMark Report from October Response


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

This month, I write about comfort with a look at Allstar's Backtastic [ss] and Telebrands' Comfy Core Pillow [ss].

Coming Soon

In an effort to bring you the most timely information possible, here is a sneak peek at what I'll be covering in next month's issue:

Check out the November issue of Response to see what I have to say about these new projects.

October 18, 2013


Description: A therapeutic plush toy
Main Pitch: "The cuddly, cooling and huggable heating packs"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one character
Bonus: 2nd character (just pay P&H)
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuyThermalaid.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

What?! A plush toy Jordan likes? I know! It's crazy! But after 100 attempts, I finally found one that makes sense to me. Adults use hot and cold packs. Why not make one that's kid-friendly?

Other things I like: It isn't trying to be a Pillow Pet, and it doesn't feature a super-cheesy jingle. It just solves a straightforward problem for parents and kids, both of whom are looking for any kind of comfort when the little one doesn't feel well.


Description: A hair curling wand
Main Pitch: "Instantly transforms all types of hair"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: None
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.GetCurlicue.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Either the sound engineer was on vacation during this shoot, or this is a re-edit of someone else's amateur production. Whatever the case, it needs some serious audio work! Putting that aside ...

Hair curling accessories (e.g. Glamour Curls, 30 Second Styler) have a poor track record in short form (Hampton's Air Curler may prove to be an exception), and few have ever tried a hair styling tool -- most likely because of cost.

My guess is that, as with hair coloring, a brand is needed to overcome the credibility barrier for women in this category. Or perhaps a longer format is required to show women what they need to see in order to believe.

Jewelry Magic

Description: A jewelry cleaning pad
Main Pitch: "Restore all your jewelry back to brand new in seconds"
Main Offer: $10 for one pad and cleaning solution
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: David Jones
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuyJewleryMagic.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This is another case where I have to let DR history be my guide. Despite several attempts -- Allstar's 7 Second Sparkle, Telebrands' Shake and Sparkle, Telebrands' Silver Lightning redux and my personal favorite Spin 'N Sparkle -- no one has been successful at marketing a jewelry cleaning product on DRTV.

That's not to mention at least one other attempt by this producer: Mighty Shine with the late, great Billy Mays. It seems this category is just not short-form friendly.

October 10, 2013

Weekly Round-Up

  1. 5 Second Button. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The sewing alternative that will get your button in place with a clean, classy look in seconds." Comments: This type of product has been a staple in catalogs for years, so it's surprising that it 'fast failed.' I would have predicted differently. [ss]
  3. Best Ball. Pitch: "A high-tech reinvention of exercise balls." Comments: Besides the high price (2 pay of $19.9), this one is unlikely to succeed because it's a "better than" product trying to improve on something that's good enough for most people. [ss]
  5. Cozy Doze. Pitch: "It's a pal, a pillow and a blanket all in one." Comments: Make it stop! Make it stop! [ss]
  7. H20 Bright. Pitch: "Turn a dark shower into a bright shower of light." Comments: A solution in search a problem. [ss]
  9. Manchester Everlast Candle. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The first battery-operated candle with an actual moving, flickering flame." Comments: I like this item. But if Telebrands' super-cool Perfect Harmony Candle didn't roll out, I'm not surprised this one was a 'fast fail.' Spot is here. [ss]
  11. PenCorder. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Digital pen discretely records 25 hours of audio." Comments: This is Flash Cord, take two. They even used a lot of the same scenes. It's unlikely this new design will do much for the CPO, though. A little too "spy tech" for the mass market. [ss]
  13. Sculptabuns. Pitch: "A new way to lift, tone and shape your butt." Comments: Fitness is a crap shoot these days (get it?) and butt shapers specifically (e.g. Butt Shaper, Thigh Shaper, Booty Slide ) haven't fared well. Spot is here. [ss]
  15. Shoebite Saver. Pitch: "Memory foam shoe insert for protecting your heels from blisters & pain." Comments: Seems like a common solution to an uncommon problem. Hey, that's good! New catch-phrase? [ss]
  17. Snuggie Up. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Celebrating five incredible years ... with a whole new collection of fun designs." Comments: No comment necessary as this one continues to defy all rules. A friend recently complained: "But it's a backward bathrobe!" (HT: SY), so I'm sure the new matching belt won't win him over. [ss]
  19. Stack 'N Snack. Pitch: "Instantly transform any plate, platter or bowl into an eye-popping serving station." Comments: Here's an example of why product checklists are important. Unique? Check. Mass market? Check. Problem solver? Um ... Spot is here. [ss]
  21. Step & Go. Pitch: "Puts your body in the proper squatting posture for better, healthier elimination." Comments: I could have made this into a competition with Squatty Potty (working title: "Dueling Doody Steps") but this one came out (heh-heh) too long after the first one. Neither is likely to succeed for two reasons. Number one, this can't be a common problem. Number two (tee-hee), my "s**t solutions don't sell" hypothesis (first mentioned here) has yet to be falsified. Joking aside, this is a classic 'must educate before you can sell' proposition, which never works in two minutes. [ss]
  23. Yolk Magic. Pitch: "The fast, easy way to separate yolks from egg whites." Comments: This has actually been tried before (see #3 in this Weekly Round-Up). Not sure why anyone would try to improve upon the perfectly functional egg separator -- let alone try it twice. Spot is here. [ss]

October 09, 2013

Magna Brix

Description: Magnetic building blocks
Main Pitch: "The bricks that stick"
Main Offer: $10 for a 54-piece set
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyMagnaBrix.com
Prediction: On the fence

A few years ago, I tried to come up with a checklist for kid items similar to my Divine Seven or Fabulous Five checklists. Halfway through, I realized the most important criterion -- whether kids think an item is cool -- is as unpredictable as what shade of lipstick will be popular this year.

This makes kid items much riskier than normal DRTV items, in my opinion. Indeed, one could argue they are total crap shoots. That's because logical criteria like the ones we use to evaluate products for adults (does it solve a problem? is it unique in the marketplace?) don't have the same odds-improving power. We can channel our inner children, or think about what our kids might like, but the only real way to know what children like is to conduct in-person research. We can't even use the inexpensive online research methods that have become popular in recent years.

With all of that in mind, I look at this product and see something that could plausibly be a hit. It certainly meets some of the other criteria we throw around, such as "good play value." Moreover, the creative is solid and avoids the sappy, cheesy moments I see too often in other DR commercials targeting kids.

Oh, and hey! It's not a plush toy! Kudos for that.


Description: A combined snack and drink cup
Main Pitch: "Now you can have your drink and your favorite snack all in one hand"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Website: www.GetSnackeez.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

For adults, this product addresses the same infrequent problem as Plate Caddy (#4 in this Weekly Round-Up). There just aren't that many times when single-handed snacking is a necessity.

The item makes more sense for parents of smaller children, but then it faces the same "segment of a segment" challenge that has limited every product since Gyro Bowl, as I recently wrote about in my review of Telebrands' Wow Cup! (HT: AF).

October 08, 2013

Bell + Howell Torch Lite

Description: A 2-in-1 LED task light
Main Pitch: "The high-tech, portable light that's really big on brightness"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.BuyTorchLite.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This is another new attempt (see #3 in this Weekly Round-Up) to see if a category I declared dead in 2011 (task lighting) is ready to make a comeback. I always appreciate it when other people spend their money to make sure my theories are still correct!

As for the product, it seems versatile -- maybe too versatile. With so many features, it borders on being a "Swiss Army" product. Watching the spot, there is a lot of information to absorb ... which could lead to confusion ... which is a sales killer.