This month, I write about Dura Wallet for the second time because it has a fancy new creative and now stars the ubiquitous Marc Gill [ss]. I also cover Emson's Color Recover [ss], which is under the Michel Mercier brand, and IdeaVillage's Popcorn Magic [ss].
September 26, 2013
Description: Rejuvenating wipes
Main Pitch: "Renews, restores, protects and lasts"
Main Offer: $19.95 for four wipes, detail brush and gloves
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay handling)
Marketer: Wipe New
Prediction: On the fence
This is an intelligent line extension to the car wipes that did so well this year. With all the media that was aired, I can see this getting good trial at retail. But on TV? It doesn't really meet the criteria.
In fact, if not for the surprise success of its predecessor, I would immediately write this off as "unlikely to succeed." I call it a "surprise success" because so many car cleaning/detailing products have failed, I don't even bother to keep track of them all anymore.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 4:55 PM
- Just Repel It! Starring: Saul Judah. Pitch: "An incredible nano-shield that repels liquids on any surface." Comments: It was only a matter of time before someone tried to copy NeverWet. The demos are truly amazing. But rather than being a moth to the flame, this marketer should have reviewed the history of similar products. Turns out this one's a Siren. [ss]
- Bumper Shield. Pitch: "License plate shield that protects from low-impact collisions." Comments: This is a simpler and more discreet version of that Bumper Bully you sometimes see on people's cars. But it's still pitching prevention, and prevention doesn't sell. [ss]
- City Lips. Pitch: "Plumper, sexier lips without surgery." Comments: I can't think of a single cosmetics item that has worked in short-form DRTV. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. [ss]
- Flex Seal Clear. Pitch: "Coat, seal and stop leaks fast." Comments: I suppose this makes sense as a line extension -- especially since Mr. Swift has been unable to find another hit -- but the strategy has to be highly cannibalistic by now. As for the commercial, I like the new 'glass-bottom boat' demo, and that AeroGrip Sprayer is a nifty bonus. [ss]
- Mighty Shield. Marketer: InvenTel. Pitch: "The ultimate screen protector for your most important mobile devices." Comments: Here's another category that has yet to deliver a hit: smart phone accessories. This exact concept has also been tried before (see Armor Guard). Incidentally, the opening to this spot was written by yours truly ... years ago, and not for this marketer. [ss]
- Perfect Rip Deck. Pitch: "Nine super-charged exercises in one machine." Comments: This is the latest from the guys who brought you Perfect Pushup. It's bit too pricey at $60, though, especially since their last expensive contraption doesn't seem to have gone anywhere. [ss]
- Rain Guard. Pitch: "The professional's choice advanced waterproofer for wood and masonry." Comments: This is most likely retail support, so I'll refrain from commenting further. [ss]
- Transform. Marketer: Coolway. Pitch: "The clinically proven styling breakthrough that makes you look like you went to the salon everyday." Comments: I put hair-care products with cosmetics on the list of bad categories for short-form DRTV. Can't think of a single winner -- or even many attempts. Again, correct me if I'm wrong. [ss]
- uTouch. Pitch: "If you can touch it, you can relieve it." Comments: Truly bizarre. At first I thought this was the 'old school' subtle approach to marketing a new sex toy. The opening to the commercial certainly gives that impression. But my imagination fails me when I try to think of how the product could be used in that way. Either I'm not kinky enough, or this is the first time someone has tried marketing a real personal massager! [ss]
- Wisp. Pitch: "Sweeping re-engineered for the 21st century." Comments: Floor care, especially brooms, is another category that should be on everyone's 'don't bother' list. Even the coolest innovations with the best creatives (see Broomy) have failed. Because some mops worked in the past (e.g. Smart Mop), and because Ontel had a long-form hit with Swivel Sweeper, people keep trying. But they really shouldn't. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 4:26 PM
September 25, 2013
Description: Low-maintenance grass seed
Main Pitch: "The greatest innovation in the history of lawn care"
Main Offer: $19.95 for a 1-lb bag
Bonus: 2nd bag (just pay S&H)
Prediction: Likely to succeed
Main Pitch: "Get a gorgeous lawn that's virtually maintenance free"
Main Offer: $14.99 for a 1-lb bag
Bonus: 2nd bag, Pocket Hose (just pay a separate fee)
Prediction: Likely to succeed
Although I am posting it here for the purposes of the duel, I first blogged about Cutting Edge in June -- a much better time to test a grass seed. However, neither seasonality nor Telebrands late entry into the game will matter.
The bonus for Grassology is the Pocket Hose, and that is apt given what I fully expect will happen next season when these projects return. That is, Telebrands will quickly dominate retail, turning Cutting Edge into another X-Hose. There is no 'first mover advantage' when Telebrands is your competitor.
As for my predictions, they are about the product and not the particular marketer. I always liked the idea of a maintenance-free lawn. The problem with the Cutting Edge creative was too much hyperbole, but the commercial for Grassology doesn't seem to have repeated that mistake.
Regardless, look for this one to be the next Patch Perfect.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 6:42 PM
Description: Protectors for credit cards
Main Pitch: "Guaranteed to block scanners from stealing your valuable information"
Main Offer: $19.95 for two
Bonus: Two more (just pay P&H)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
IdeaVillage already tried this (and for half the price), but past failures never seem to stop Emson from testing an item. The difference here is that they aren't doing it under one of their brands (Michel Mercier, Big Boss, Bell + Howell), which is their usual approach with prior flops. That makes me think they just didn't do their homework on this one.
If they had, they'd have learned that RFID blocking has only been successful as a product feature (see Aluma Wallet, Dura Wallet). Because the pitch relies on fear and education to sell, it is not strong enough to stand alone. For these reasons, I'm even skeptical that it had much to do with the successes cited.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 6:05 PM
Description: Periscope glasses
Main Pitch: "Watch TV in bed without lifting your head"
Main Offer: $10 for one pair
Bonus: 2nd pair (just pay a separate fee)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
Oh no they didn't! I've been shown these glasses several times, but I've always dismissed them as an absurd novelty. Leave it to Telebrands to test them anyway -- and even contrive problems for the product to solve! Yes, people with injuries that leave them flat on their back will surely want this. But once you sell those five people, then what?
This reminds me of the faceless watch, another novelty item everyone rejected and Telebrands tested anyway. Guess they're willing to take the losses to find that outlier hit (Perfect Polly comes to mind). Then again, it wouldn't be the first time crazy glasses worked on DRTV.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:40 PM
September 12, 2013
- Glowerz. Pitch: "Just walk, dance or jump" and they "glow, glow, glow" Marketer: Harvest. Comments: Stompeez meets Bright Light Pillow. I kinda like the idea. With better creative, a much better jingle and good retail distribution, it could be a holiday hit. [ss]
- Green Gun. Pitch: "The professional lawn-care secret that transforms your ugly, yellowed lawn into a neighborhood showcase." Comments: Another fusion of concepts, this one combines the gun-and-canister technology from Salon Bronze with the chemicals in Get It Green. Once again, I like the idea -- but the sound effects and visuals will make it hard to convince people this isn't some sort of spray paint. [ss]
- Mighty Lids. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: "Store leftovers quickly with an airtight suction that always holds." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' Strange that this team would test an item so similar in concept to Press Dome, Stretchy Magic and several other projects they have tried in the past. Spot is here. [ss]
- Zone Zapper. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: "Solar-powered [bug zapper] ... creates a personal, portable, bug-free zone." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' I like the concept but doubt the efficacy. Spot is here (half of it, anyway). [ss]
And now, because I'm sure you would get tired of reading the phrase "amateur hour" five times, I've broken out the rest of this week's items into a new mini-feature I'm calling ...
The Rookie Round-Up
- Leather Nu. Pitch: "The amazing new leather restoration and repair kit that can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars." Comments: Here's a good rule of thumb for DR novices: If a major DRTV player has already tried it (using the industry's top pitchman no less!) and it didn't roll out, you probably aren't going to crack the code. [ss]
- Safety View. Pitch: "Simply and securely see who is outside your door." Comments: Another great rule of thumb: If most people can answer "no" to your opening question, you should probably save your money. Let's try it: "Do you feel nervous when the doorbell rings?" ... I didn't think so. I was also amused by the scene of the woman casually drilling a large hole in her front door as if it were no big deal! [ss]
- Sidekick. Pitch: "The dome-light cover that lights up the back seat without blinding the driver." Comments: One of the best (worst?) example of a solution in search of a problem that I've seen yet. Spot is here. [ss]
- Super Switch. Pitch: "Lets you turn any lamp on or off from up to 60 feet away." Comments: Attempting to revive past hits (aka Old Gold) is a smart strategy ... but only for experienced DRTV players. Novices have no business playing the game, as this commercial (for a variation of Handy Switch) makes clear. [ss]
- Wizor. Pitch: "Cut the retail tags from new merchandise in one simple motion." Comments: Not as good (bad?) an example of a 'searching solution' as Sidekick (see above), but a close second! Spot is here. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 9:42 PM
September 05, 2013
- DissolvAway. Starring: David Jones. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "Super-concentrated cleaning power in a dissolving square." Comments: Solid creative, but every attempt to change people's laundry habits using DRTV has failed. Previous examples include a Telebrands item similar to this one called Pure Logic, Dropps and Ontel's Washer Balls (which followed the retail hit Dryer Balls). This is one of those categories where decades of experience and tens of millions in ad spending cannot be easily surmounted. [ss]
- Bunion Bliss. Marketer: Lenfest. Producer: Concepts. Pitch: "The amazing new socks that help soothe the excruciating pain of bunions." Comments: Apparently a 'fast fail.' My guess as to why: This a niche problem, not a mass-market one. Then again, I thought ear wax buildup was a niche problem, too. Spot is here. [ss]
- Flex Light Pro. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The amazing, poseable, magnetic, hands-free personal task light for any job." Comments: Since at least 2010, I have been arguing that task lighting is a dead category (see my Hex Light review, for example). I have yet to see proof of life. So while this is a cool product, the odds are against it. A few years ago a similar item called Hug Light was also tried. [ss]
- Freezy Breezy. Marketer: Lenfest. Producer: Bluewater. Pitch: "Transforms your ordinary fan into a freeze machine." Comments: This struck me as a ghetto air conditioner when I first saw it, and real air conditioners aren't all that expensive these days. I do like the outdoor use, though. [ss]
- Fresh Bowl. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The world's first oral health bowl." Comments: An older 'fast fail' referenced in my recent review of Brush No More. [ss]
- Hero Tube. Pitch: "Twist, store, secure. Get organized the easy way." Comments: Amateur hour -- especially with regard to the pricing strategy. [ss]
- Hot Stuff. Pitch: "Silicone go pop compacts." Comments: A bizarre commercial by what is obviously a DR dilettante. [ss]
- Magic Grill Mat. Pitch: "The non-stick grilling solution that ... keeps your barbecue and oven sparkling clean." Comments: More amateur hour stuff. Spot is here. [ss]
- Max Secure. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "The first home alarm system for less than $20." Comments: A 'fast fail' written by yours truly. Spot is here. [ss]
- Mighty Bite. Starring: Jeff Mancini. Pitch: "The world's only five sense fishing lure." Comments: Another dead category. See my review of Strike 'N Set for further details. [ss]
- Perfect Pet Mat. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The only pet mat that keeps your dog or cat warm in the winter, cool in the summer and ultra-comfy all year long." Comments: Another 'fast fail' written by yours truly. Spot is here. [ss]
- Quik Brush. Pitch: "Makes painting quicker and easier in half the time." Comments: I wouldn't call painting a dead category (yet), but its best days are certainly behind it. A case in point: EdgeMaster was a solid hit in 2002. Ten years later, EdgeMaster Pro was tested and never heard from again. [ss]
- Super Rope Cinch. Pitch: "Secure anything without tying a knot." Comments: Still more amateur hour stuff. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 4:22 PM
September 04, 2013
Description: A stretchy band bracelet maker
Main Pitch: "The creation station for your imagination"
Main Offer: $14.99 for the starter kit
Bonus: 2nd kit free
This is the first of what I am sure will be many attempts to capitalize on the summer's hottest fad: Rainbow Loom. I guess the line "don't be fooled by imitations" is meant to be ironic?
On a side note, the New York Times has a good article on the inventor of Rainbow Loom. Here's one line that made me chuckle: "IF Rainbow Loom attracts imitators, the key to keeping them at bay is having 'a secret sauce' that no one else can replicate, according to Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for M.I.T. Entrepreneurship and a senior lecturer at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management."
"IF"? To borrow an analogy from a friend (HT: BQ), Mr. Ng is a big fat tuna in a sea of hungry sharks. He needs to find a powerful retail partner -- and fast. As real experts on the subject of imitation know, there is never a "secret sauce that no one else can replicate."
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:30 PM
Description: A pan for making filled cakes
Main Pitch: "Create amazing cakes filled with ice cream, fruit, pudding, whipped cream and more"
Main Offer: $19.95 for the three-piece set
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay P&H)
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
This is the first "Perfect" project I've reviewed that doesn't start with that branded word (for obvious reasons). Rather, it is brought to you "by Perfect Cookware," which will create an interesting challenge should this go to retail. It's also noteworthy because DR marketers routinely struggle with this issue when brand extending. Witness, for example, Tristar's attempt to brand extend the "Genie" line.
Moving on, I am beginning to think most items in the baking category are a sucker's bet. I'll have more to say on this in the September issue of Response, but that is the main reason for my prediction. Otherwise, if anyone has a shot at making an item like this work, it's this team. They are the True Top Marketer and True Top Producer, after all.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:19 PM
Description: An ear-cleaning device for pets
Main Pitch: "The simple, mess-free way to clean your pet's ears"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one with 12 disposable tips
Bonus: Ear-cleaning solution, 12 more tips (just pay S&H)
Producer: Blue Moon
Prediction: On the fence
I'm not sure how big of a problem this is for pet owners, but other pet hygiene items have done well. Examples include Peticure/Pedi Paws (for nails) and Plaque Attack/Plaque Blast (for teeth and gums).
Posted by Jordan Pine at 4:54 PM
Description: A book of DIY tips
Main Pitch: "More than 3,000 handyman hints ... the absolute best secrets to save you time and money"
Main Offer: $10 for one book
Bonus: 2nd copy of the book (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Prediction: On the fence
Not every attempt they've made has been successful, though. In fact, a recent project with several similarities to this one (e.g. it also starred a well-known pitchman), doesn't seem to have gone anywhere -- at least, not yet.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 12:43 PM