December 28, 2013

McAlister & Miller on NBC's Today show

Top Dog Direct (formerly Media Enterprises) President Bill McAlister and top producer John Miller recently appeared on NBC's Today show to promote the relaunch of Mighty Putty. Top pitchman Marc Gill also has a cameo.

You can watch the video below or here.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Kelly, RIP

I recently learned the sad news that Ed Kelly of National Express passed away before the holidays. He was 53.

Norwalk's The Hour has the obituary.

Our belated condolences to the Kelly family.

December 26, 2013

HD Vision Night Vision Wraparounds

Description: Night vision glasses
Main Pitch: "Fit over your existing glasses and dramatically improve seeing at night"
Main Offer: $10 for one pair
Bonus: HD Vision Wraparound Sunglasses (just pay S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: NexTV
Prediction: Likely to succeed

This is IdeaVillage's answer to Night View (#9 in this Weekly Roundup from June). Despite the paragraph-long brand name, I think it will do well -- especially at retail, where this distributor will surely dominate.

As for the creative, I found the in-car testimonials to be strange. If they were set up in some way -- perhaps as the DR version of Cash Cab? -- they might have worked better. With no explanation, they weren't very credible, and that defeats the whole purpose of testimonials.

Interesting footnote: Night vision glasses were the original bonus for HD Vision Wraparounds when they were launched back in 2008, so five years later IdeaVillage has essentially reversed the pitch.

Plug Purse

Description: A purse with a built-in phone charger
Main Pitch: "Holds enough power to completely recharge your cell phone"
Main Offer: 2 pay of $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Purses are a tough sell on DRTV. I think that's because the bar is extra high: In order to get a woman to sacrifice fashion, the function of the purse has to be super-compelling. Allstar hit that bar with the Buxton Bag in 2008, but no other company has been able to hit it since.

As for this item, I don't see how taking a purse and adding a phone charger -- something that has been tried many times on DRTV without real success -- will even come close to hitting the bar. The high price won't help matters, either.

Weekly Roundup

  1. Nina Silk. Pitch: "The painless way to twist and lift hair away." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail' (link goes to the spot). One possible reason: It's pitched like IdeaVillage's Smooth Away, which peaked only four years ago and had low customer satisfaction. [ss]
  3. Amazing Tank. Marketer: Hampton. Producer: Huton-Miller. Pitch: "The kid-friendly aquarium that cleans itself like magic." Comments: This is the HydraQuarium under a new name and with a new creative by the masters of "kid-friendly" DR. [ss]
  5. Duovet. Pitch: "The dual-temperature duvet." Comments: This was clearly brought to market by someone who knows very little about the DRTV business. [ss]
  7. Light Up Links. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The building links that light up your imagination." Comments: This has elements of the old Allstar hit Bendaroos and also reminds me of a neat invention from a few years ago called Laser Pegs. Thinking about what made those items successful, I see the same potential here. [ss]
  9. No Freakin' Way. Pitch: "The game that finds out how much money it would take for your friends or relatives to do some wild and crazy things." Comments: I can't think of another board game that was launched using DRTV ... and there's probably a good reason for that. [ss]

December 12, 2013

Weekly Roundup

Dueling Key Locators

  1. Key See. Pitch: "The motion-activated key locator that illuminates your keys instantly." Comments: See below. [ss]
  3. Key Brite. Producer: Concepts TV. Pitch: The "foolproof key finder that glows bright day or night." Comments: I'm too late to the party to make this an official duel. The first item was an apparent 'fast fail,' anyway. I'm not sure of the fate of this item, which has a much better design, but I think it is also unlikely to succeed. The problem is too low on the scale. [ss]
  5. Cosmetic Express. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The convenient cosmetic carryall that turns into a magical makeup mat." Comments: Tough category, but I like this product. [ss]
  7. Dual Plunger. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "Snake and plunge at the same time and clear any clog in seconds." Comments: I'm going to reiterate my "s**t solutions don't sell" theory here and predict failure for this one. More specifically, I've never seen a plunger work on DRTV, and several have been tried (e.g. Presto Plunger, Pushover Plunge). [ss]
  9. Handy Lantern. Pitch: "The sturdy, portable and powerful LED lantern that gives you bright light wherever and whenever you need it." Comments: As I mentioned last week, I know firsthand that this is a Siren category. [ss]
  11. Kennedy Memorial Coin. Producer: Greenberg Direct. Pitch: "50 years later ... remember a great president." Comments: Fits the model (commemorative, coins), so I see no reason why it wouldn't do well. [ss]
  13. Mix N Bake. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Concepts TV. Pitch: "Lets you mix and bake neatly, completely in just one pan." Comments: I don't bake, but this strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. The 'save a pan/pot/dish' argument never really works in DR. And this looks messy, too. [ss]
  15. Sun Genie. Starring: Anthony Sullivan. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: A solar-powered lantern that's "the greatest invention since the light bulb." Comments: Hyperbole much? I'll admit this is one of the cooler lanterns I've seen -- but it's still a lantern (see comments above). I liked the demos, though. [ss]
  17. Twist Ease. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "Not a braid, but a unique hair accessory that puts a new twist in hair for endless hot styles." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' One of the 49 if my math is right. [ss]
  19. Wedgy Wedge. Pitch: "The ultimate comfort solution that delivers support in the areas you need." Comments: If the third time is never the charm, what's the 8th time? (See my Backtastic and Happy Back reviews.) I know: Someone not paying attention! [ss]

Tow Truck in a Box

Description: Tire traction aids
Main Pitch: "The fast, easy way out of anything your tires can spin into"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one box
Bonus: None
Marketer: Tristar
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I can think of at least three reasons why this won't work. First, this type of item has been tried before without success under the name Tread Ahead. In fact, I used the item in my December 2011 Response column to illustrate my next point ...

Preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness. Like flat tires and dead batteries -- and the ill-fated DR products that have tried to solve these problems -- this kind of car calamity doesn't happen often enough to motivate people off the couch. Only a small segment of the population (i.e. the anal-retentive) would carry an item like this in their trunk.

Lastly, this is really a seasonal item. The only people who expect to get stuck in the mud are off-roaders, a segment of a segment to be sure. The only time anyone else might get stuck is when there's a snowstorm, and such storms only affect certain regions of the country certain times of the year. (Refer back to point No. 2 for the type of people who worry about such storms.)

December 05, 2013

Weekly Roundup

Watch the EverLight commercial

  1. EverLight. Pitch: "The light that automatically goes on when the power goes off." Comments: A 'fast fail' from yours truly. Take it from me: This is a Siren category. [ss]
  3. Airman. Marketer: InvenTel. Pitch: "The all new radio-controlled super hero of the sky." Comments: This is very cool. Toy distribution can be tricky for dilettantes, but otherwise I can see this doing well -- especially in Q4. [ss]
  5. Custom Genie Bra. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The first convertible bra that custom conforms to you." Comments: The latest addition to the line. I like the pitch. [ss]
  7. Effortless Sheets. Starring: Susan Williams. Pitch: "The world's first top sheet that's fitted at the bottom." Comments: A solution in search of a problem. Prediction: Bomb. [ss]
  9. Flexy Cord. Pitch: "The expandable, tangle-free, self-coiling extension cord." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.'
  11. Pocket Hose Ultra. Starring: Richard Karn. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Three times stronger with a lifetime guarantee." Comments: Given how many of these hoses Telebrands has sold, it makes sense to try extending the line. [ss]
  13. Pocket Juice. Pitch: "Stay charged while on the go -- wherever and whenever." Comments: Speaking of Sirens, this has become a Siren product. Sailors beware. [ss]
  15. Tomato Garden Caps. Pitch: "Enjoy great-tasting tomatoes and strawberries all year long." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' [ss]
  17. Rack Trap. Starring: Marla Schultz (the inventor). Pitch: "An undetectable one-size-fits-all personal bra pocket." Comments: Allstar already tried this concept under the name Secret Keeper. But I love their name! [ss]
  19. Trust Coin. Producer: Greenberg Direct. Pitch: "Show your allegiance to principles the United States was founded upon." Comments: From what I know about this category, which admittedly is very little, this seems like it hits all the right notes. [ss]
  21. World Class Knife. Starring: Marc Gill. Pitch: "The best features of a gourmet French chef's knife and a classic Japanese chef's knife." Comments: With one notable exception (IdeaVillage's Yoshi Blade), single knives haven't fared well on DRTV -- although it seems Telebrands is making a serious run at bringing Aero Knife to market. As for the creative, I'm impressed! I didn't realize Marc was such a skilled 'knife worker.' [ss]

My Spy Birdhouse

Description: A see-through birdhouse
Main Pitch: "Watch up close birds nesting and feeding their young"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one with 2-way mirror & privacy curtain
Bonus: My Spy Bird Feeder (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Hampton/Lenfest
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Prediction: Likely to succeed

Want to spy on a mother while she is feeding her baby? You’re a sicko who ought to be arrested. Want to spy on a mother bird while she is feeding her baby? You’re a nature lover with a healthy curiosity. Such is the double standard other species must endure.

Fortunately, kids don’t care much about animal privacy: They just want to see really cool stuff up close. That’s why I can see this project doing well. What it lacks in the problem-solving area, it makes up for in uniqueness and ‘wow factor.’