December 30, 2014

Rounding Out the Year

  1. Mighty Ratchet. Starring: Beau Rials. Marketer: TV Goods. Pitch: "Nothing’s ever too tight or too hard to tighten because you can use both hands." Comments: I like tools, and I especially like Beau Rials pitching tools. He does an excellent job here again. Unfortunately, though, the tool category hasn’t been a reliable source of winners for some time. Even the few hits have struggled to maximize their sales potential at retail. [ss]
  2.  
  3. dualBeats. Marketer: InvenTel. Pitch: "High fidelity headphones with a dual purpose." Comments: This is 'following' taken too far. It won't be the following of IdeaVillage's Flips Audio that will be the biggest problem. It will be the following of a mega-brand's trademark too closely. As I've written, predicting the future isn't always difficult. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Lil Lamps LED. Starring: Anthony Sullivan. Pitch: "The little lamp that lights up a big space." Comments: This is a mini version of an Old Gold item that was rolled out twice by Telebrands, the first time as Stick-Up Bulb (2006-2007) and the second time as InstaBulb (2012-2013). For those keeping score at home, that could be considered a five-year repeat. Even if that's confirmed, this product (while cool and different) is being tried too soon. [ss]
  6.  
  7. NanoGlide Pro. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Increase your car or truck's fuel economy and oil life." Comments: Besides liability concerns, an "average 7% increase in MPG" just doesn't sound compelling to me. In general, that has been the challenge with these projects: The savings aren't exciting enough. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Frost Off. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The easiest way to remove frost, ice -- even snow -- instantly." Comments: Telebrands' version of Tristar's Frost Gone. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Tasty Roaster. Marketer: Hampton Direct. Pitch: "Cooks delicious meals in a microwave minute." Comments: This appears to be the same product as Allstar's Rapid Roaster (No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up), which was tested just last month and disappeared quickly. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Toilet Spear. Starring: Joe Fowler. Pitch: "New toilet tool ... makes cleaning better and easier." Comments: Toilet tools have a terrible track record on DRTV, most likely because of my "s**t solutions don't sell" hypothesis. Watching this commercial, you can see how the gross factor kills the sale. (Poor Joe!) [ss]
  14.  
  15. V Broom. Starring: Anthony Sullivan. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "V-shaped rubber bristles ... form an impenetrable wall." Comments: Floor care is not my favorite category. I can't think of a single success since 2004-2005 when Sully and Telebrands brought back One Sweep, no doubt the inspiration for this product and commercial. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Wonder Forts. Pitch: "Build amazing forts and play spaces." Comments: There's definite play value here, but my inner child doesn't find it to be very cool/exciting. Part of the fun of building a furniture fort was using everyday materials. This is too much like work. [ss]
  18.  
  19. Wonder Pot. Marketer: Tempo 3000. Producer: 3rd House. Pitch: "Never burn food or boil-over again." Comments: Neat product, but I have trouble envisioning the customer. If a guy buys it for his woman, he may as well buy a Magic Bloom bouquet, too, and get used to sleeping alone. If a woman buys it, she has put herself in the 'Bad Cook Club' (HT: J.S.) -- even thought the creative does its best to make excuses for her. [ss]

December 28, 2014

ThighMaster Vibrato

Description: A vibrating ThighMaster
Main Pitch: "Just put it between your knees and squeeze for sexy hips and thighs"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Bronzing gel (just pay separate P&H)
Starring: Suzanne Somers
Marketer: Product Trend
Watch it on iSpot.tv

I suspected Ms. Somers had a flare for the sexual innuendo when I first saw her Three-Way Poncho commercial. It was her delivery of the line, "three-way poncho, that is," after the VO repeatedly encouraged viewers to "get a three way." This commercial confirmed my suspicions. But in this case, the innuendo is unavoidable given the product goes between a woman's knees ... and vibrates.

Of course, the ThighMaster was always sexually suggestive. Many would argue this is the main reason it became such a mega-hit back in the day, and the success of Neckline Slimmer in 2009 and Shake Weight in 2010 (for similar reasons) supports that hypothesis.

S7 Analysis: Even when delivering sexually suggestive lines, Ms. Somers always comes across as classy and credible. That makes her commercials highly engaging, which is a subtle aspect of pitch work that doesn't get much attention but probably should. As for the product, it's the ultimate in Old Gold, so it clearly meets all of the criteria. The marketers have even found a way to one-up the original while keeping the product focused on a single area of the body -- another secret to the original product's success that was missed in a previous attempt to bring this concept back (see Flex Shaper).

Hamper Hoops

Description: A basketball hoop for laundry
Main Pitch: "The all-star basketball hoop and hamper"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Ball (free)
Brand: Wham-O
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Watch it on iSpot.tv

Every guy has played hamper or trash-can 'basketball' in his life, so this idea is tapping into an existing behavior. Other than that, this concept strikes me as iffy at best. For kids, there are several cool basketball toys already on the market that aren't trying to trick them into cleaning up their room. For parents, the idea that kids will suddenly have spotless rooms because of this product will sound too good to be true.

My thought as a parent: Let's not give kids an extra reason they don't need to toss dirty laundry around!

S7 Analysis: Not applicable. Someday, perhaps, I will create a set of criteria for kid products.

Crispy Wave

Description: Microwave crisping sheets
Main Pitch: "The unique new way to brown your food in the microwave"
Main Offer: $10 for a roll
Bonus: 10 Pop-a-Rounds (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

This project may be inspired by an Old Gold item from the 1990s. The item is so old, it predates all of my archives. I believe it (or at least one version of it) was called Brown 'N Crisp, and it appears to have been a foil-lined pocket.

Whether Old Gold or not, there is a lot to like about this project. First, it stars Cathy Mitchell, who is on a roll of late. Second, it features great-looking food coming out of the microwave, which is something that Telebrands had success with last year (see Stone Wave, a 2013 True Top Spender). Third, the pitch is about making life easier, which is a tried-and-true way to get DRTV buyers to 'call now.'

Those are the positives. There are also a few negatives, of course. For instance, the idea of doing 'crispy' in the microwave has been tried a few times without success. Lenfest tried it with Perfect Micro Crisper in 2011, and Allstar tried it with TastiWave the year prior. Another issue is the low-perceived value of something that looks like a roll of wax paper, not to mention that the roll is going to run out and require repurchase. Such products always have more appeal to the marketer than the consumer in the phase where the product is "not available in stores."

S7 Analysis: This project meets all of the S7 criteria except perhaps one: It may not be needed, which is why it hasn't fared well in the past. Crisping the slow way -- in a toaster oven or regular oven -- may be 'good enough' for most people.

MicroTouch Tough Blade

Description: A three-blade razor
Main Pitch: "Get a perfect shave for an entire year for under $20"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the razor
Bonus: MicroTouch trimmer, 12 replacement blades (free)
Starring: Brett Favre
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Watch it on iSpot.tv

Big brands Gillette and Schick have created a problem with their battle to have the most blades: They have stopped providing sufficient value to justify their prices. How else to explain the success of MicroTouch One, the predecessor to this project? If five blades mattered, one blade shouldn't have stood a chance.

Now IdeaVillage is getting into the multi-blade game. With Brett Favre and their 'year's worth of shaving' value proposition, they look credible and preferable to the competition. But how big of a bite can they take out of that business before the big boys notice and strike back? That's what I'm curious to know.

S7 Analysis: IdeaVillage is clearly in defiance of the guideline that DRTV companies should focus on uncrowded categories not already "dominated by big brands with big ad budgets and a few decades of consumer loyalty." But as noted above, this is a guideline they have successfully defied in the past.

December 25, 2014

SciMark Report from December Response


Global's Jeaneez

My latest SciMark Report in print is now available on the Response Website.

The topic: The crazy new jeggings battle featuring a record number of competitors. Or perhaps it is more appropriately titled: The Jeggings War!

Clarification: I learned after this report went to press that InvenTel's Hollywood Jeanz are actual jeans, not jeggings. That means this war is technically between four competitors with a similar-looking fifth product also in the mix. No less crazy!

Coming Soon

In the upcoming first issue of 2015, I take a break from writing reviews to share my latest list of good categories and bad categories for DRTV. Check out the upcoming January issue to find out where you may want to be focused.

December 24, 2014

Magic Bloom

Description: An artificial flower that blooms
Main Pitch: "Enjoy the everlasting beauty of roses that bloom forever"
Main Offer: $10 for one with single-bud vase
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Watch it on iSpot.tv

For people who like fake flowers, this is a significant improvement over what's on the market with some real "wow" factor. For everyone else (and I suspect that's the majority), this is a poor replacement for fresh-cut flowers.

Special warning for men: If you like sleeping next to your wife or girlfriend, don't copy this commercial and bring her a bouquet of Magic Blooms!

S7 Analysis: With the exception of one big criterion, this projects stacks up pretty well. The product is certainly different, and the creative is engaging because of the magic of watching a fake flower bloom. But the product doesn't solve a real problem, so it isn't needed. In rare cases, "wow" alone has been enough to overcome this challenge, but I'm skeptical in this case because of the market size concern mentioned above.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Thanks for being such loyal readers this year. My gift to you is Jimmy Kimmel's As Seen on TV Gift Guide.*

On a related note, congratulations to all of my friends and fellow creatives who made the guide. They include:

  • John & Peter -- 3 times!
    (Bananalicious, Sneak-A-Poo, Big Mouth Mask)
  • Fred, James & Colleen L. (Snuggie 5-Year)
  • Brian & Andy (EZ Butter)
  • Colleen D. (Teddy Tanks)
  • Megan (Style Screamer)

As the writer of one of these spots, I join you in receiving this honor!

-----
* HT: Steve S.

December 11, 2014

Micro Max

Description: A small LED flashlight
Main Pitch: "Turns any ordinary 9-volt battery into a powerful flashlight"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (free)
Brand: Bell + Howell
Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

This is a neat little gizmo, but it uses a less-common battery type (9 volt) and lacks perceived value. It is also a light, and lights of all kinds have a bad track record on DRTV. Undettered, Emson has tested at least three other products featuring LEDs in the last two years alone: Torch Lite, Super Nova Lantern and Ultra Bulb.

S7 Analysis: While this product is certainly different from other lights on the market, it is a novelty that isn't really needed. Flashlights of all sizes are sold for cheap prices at every retail store, so unless someone has to have the "world's smallest" (as the commercial claims) or absolutely loves the gimmick, they are unlikely to buy this for the typical reasons lights are purchased.

Runway Blowout Brush

Description: A hair styling brush
Main Pitch: "Get volume, bounce and healthy shine and salon results at home"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with 3 large & 3 small brushes plus 6 clips
Bonus: Travel pouch (free)
Starring: Maria McCool
Marketer: Tristar
Watch it on iSpot.tv

Women spend a lot of money to get their hair blown out, so if they believe this promise, the project will do well. That said, hair is a 1 in 50 category, so the odds are not in favor of this rolling out.

S7 Analysis: The big challenge with any hair item is: a) creating the perception that the product is needed, and b) fighting for attention in a very crowded category.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. PressTastic. Pitch: "The fast, easy way to steam, crease and wrinkle release right on the hanger." Comments: I like this one a lot. The DR history is promising (a similar item called Steam Buddy was a 2008 hit), the commercial and demos are excellent, and the offer is very strong. That's all the right ingredients for DR success. [ss]
  2.  
  3. BedRenu. Pitch: "Restore your old mattress to better than new." Comments: This is the Furniture Fix idea applied to beds. Not a bad idea: Furniture Fix was a 2011 and 2012 True Top Spender. Let's see if there's a category here. [ss]
  4.  
  5. CoverAge. Starring: Jerome Alexander. Pitch: A "unique under-eye concealer and treatment all in one." Comments: In terms of driving a CPO, cosmetics don't work in short form. Of course, there may be another strategy at play here. [ss]
  6.  
  7. HydroMousse. Marketer: Eagle Eye. Pitch: "Grass grows where you spray it." Comments: This campaign first hit the airwaves in April and spent 22 weeks on the Jordan Whitney before the season ended. Needless to say, I'm just posting for posterity. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Neater Scooper. Pitch: "The cleaner, smarter scooper that neat cats love." Comments: Pooper scoopers are near the top of my list of bad categories, and I have to lump in (get it?) cat poop scoops as well. True, Sift 'N Toss should have failed if this rule were iron-clad (it was a 2011 True Top Spender), but like the 1996 hit Quicksand, it eliminated the scoop altogether. Footnote: Quicksand itself failed to make a comeback in 2010. [ss]

December 05, 2014

Corrections & Clarifications

The SciMark Report is committed to responsible journalism, so I am starting a new feature today that will address any errors, omissions and so on that appear on the blog. My readers are my ombudsmen, and I hear from them whenever I make a mistake. In the past, I have merely corrected blog posts online with an editor's note. However, since most people read the blog in the form of an email newsletter, this new feature will give those corrections the same publicity the original, incorrect information received.

For my inaugural post, I have THREE mea culpas to make. Ouch!

----------

1. In my post about Clever Light (since updated), I accused Kerrmercials of lacking originality for using a clever line I had used in my December 2013 Ever Light commercial. Well, it appears I am the one who lacks originality! The line was originally used in a February 2013 commercial for Remark-A-Bulb, which (even more embarrassingly) I covered on this blog. It gets worse. Although I didn't know it at the time, the Remark-A-Bulb commercial and line belong to ... Kerrmercials. They were merely recycling their own work, so I am the only plagiarist here.

To Tim Kerr: My sincerest apologies, especially for the implication that you lack originality. Great line. Sorry I stole it. It wasn't conscious, and I'll be careful that it doesn't happen again. To everyone else: Please bear witness to my public shaming!

2. In my post about the attempted resurrection of Hercules Hook (also now updated), I assumed that the reason the new version of the commercial so closely resembled the old version of the commercial is because Sully and Billy worked together on the project in 2006. While it is true that Sully and Billy often collaborated (as shown on the Pitchmen reality show), it is not true that the original Hercules Hook was done by Sullivan Productions. It was done by Hutton-Miller, and I am informed that Sully was not involved.

3. And finally, a clarification. In my post about Max Lash, I mentioned 2004's Dream Lash and linked to what I thought was an online copy of the original commercial. As it turns it, the link goes to a Concepts TV commercial that was shot in 2009, not the original commercial. I'm not sure which producer did the original spot. If someone would be so kind as to use the comments section to educate us, I'd be much obliged. What I do know (now) is that Concepts did not do the original spot. Kudos to them for contacting me and being honest enough to make sure they weren't getting credit for someone else's work. Today, I am further shamed by their good example!

December 04, 2014

Card Lock

Description: An RFID-blocking sleeve
Main Pitch: "Like a portable bank vault for your credit cards"
Main Offer: $10 for two in solid or paisley
Bonus: Two more plus free S&H
Starring: Craig Burnett
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

This is similar to an item Telebrands recently did with Akos called Security Sleeves (see my October column in Response for an analysis of the project). This is also now the third time someone has tried this pitch on DRTV. In DR, the third time is seldom the charm.*

S7 Analysis: As I've explained before, the big challenge with RFID-blocking technology is people don't know that it is needed. Even if everyone were aware of the problem, this would still be a prevention pitch with the 'selling the invisible' problem mixed in. (On the former point: Imagine trying to sell someone a gizmo that prevents physical pick-pocketing, and you'll see what I mean.) As for the commercial, it struggles to be engaging because the product is not demonstrable and thus not very exciting.

* Formerly "the third time is never the charm," this catch-phrase has been modified based on several recent counter-examples.

Clever Light

Description: An emergency light
Main Pitch: "The light that goes on when the power goes off"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Brand: Bell + Howell
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

This project bears many similarities to my Ever Light project from December 2013. (One reason: I inadvertently plagiarized the main pitch, also recycled here, from a February 2013 commercial. I recently discovered that spot was also done by Kerrmercials.) The similarities mean this project is unlikely to succeed. That is: Ours wasn't close, and it is unlikely that demand for such a solution has radically changed in one year.

S7 Analysis: I obviously believed this item met all of the S7 criteria back when I pursued it. Like many, I was (repeatedly) seduced by this Siren category following the success of Olde Brooklyn Lantern. Looking back, my best guess is that this particular solution -- and the many others storm lights and lanterns that were tried -- is not different enough from what's already on the market to succeed. It's a high bar that Telebrands hit with its 'vintage' pitch, and even they were never able hit that bar again.

(See here for the full history of failed lanterns following OBL.)

Frost Gone

Description: A windshield cover
Main Pitch: "Protects your windshield from frost, snow and ice"
Main Offer: $19.99 in one of five colors with carry case
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

I am not aware of any winter-focused hit in DRTV history. (Feel free to email me or use the comments section to correct me if I'm wrong.) This creative tries to address that problem by suggesting the product is also useful in hot weather, but when I think of sun shades (e.g. this one), I come up empty as well.

Most of all, my concern about this project can be described using one of my catch-phrases: 'Preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness.' DR buyers are impulse buyers, which decreases the likelihood they will buy a product for a rainy -- uh, snowy -- day. Consumers in general don't seem to think ahead when it comes to this potential problem. Just like umbrellas during rainstorms, snow scrapers always seem to sell out during snowstorms.

S7 Analysis: Seasonality is not one of the S7 criteria, but it should definitely be a consideration because of its impact on retail planning. Perhaps the targeted criterion covers the general idea because the "big enough buying group" exists only during certain months of the year -- and then often only in certain geographic regions (e.g. places where it snows). Otherwise, this product stacks up well against the criteria as it is certainly needed during the winter months. As for the commercial, I continue to find Tristar's pitchman to be quite engaging and likable.

Zippie Sips

Description: A silicone lid for cups
Main Pitch: "The compact and simple way to make any cup spill-proof"
Main Offer: $10 for three
Bonus: Three more (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Watch it on iSpot.tv

This is a neat product that I have seen before. I liked it then, and I like it now. Gyro Bowl (2011), Snackeez (2014) and Wow Cup (2014) are the three rollouts that proved this is a category -- even though this market would seem to be too narrow to support a DRTV campaign.

S7 Analysis: As mentioned above, one of the key S7 criteria is that a product be targeted to a large enough buying group. This product fails that criterion, and yet several similar products have been successful. Conversely, those successes have made this category a bit crowded these days, which may mean the timing is off for a project like this. In most cases, there's only room for one, and the one that matters for this project is Telebrands' Wow Cup, a mid-year 2014 True Top Spender.

Easy Baking

Description: A cookbook
Main Pitch: "The amazing new, time-saving cookbook for all kinds of refrigerated dough"
Main Offer:
Bonus: Wrap and Roll recipes (free), mini Roll-N-Bake (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

Telebrands is on a roll with books and particularly cookbooks pitched by Cathy Mitchell, as I reported in my Dump Dinners review.

S7 Analysis: Quick and easy ways to make food will always be needed, and America seems particularly receptive to ideas for making quick-and-easy treats. It will be interesting to see if this book does better than Dump Dinners because of its focus on snacks and desserts. Bigger picture, what amazes me most about Telebrands' success in this category is that the book category is anything but uncrowded, and yet they continue to be successful.

Side Sleeper Pro: Old Gold?

New Name: Side Right
Current/Original Marketer: Allstar
Original Hit Years: 2010-2011 (No. 75 & 47 on JW Annuals)
Watch the spot

This is yet another attempt to bring back a winner in less than five years rather than waiting the traditional 7-10 years. Allstar's last attempt was just last month (see my Kitty File review) with the fate of that project unknown. Because that project was substantially different than the original hit (i.e. Emery Cat), I didn't classify it as an 'Old Gold' attempt, whereas this appears to be pretty much the same product but with a different fill.

S7 Analysis: Pillows obviously meet all of the S7 criteria, otherwise the success of four of them at the same time from 2010-2011 wouldn't have been possible. That said, the category has never been uncrowded, especially of late, and I find it hard to believe that another new pillow can be perceived as needed or different given all the recent noise in the marketplace.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Beauty Spin. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The customizable spinning organizer for quick, easy access to your beauty essentials." Comments: Makeup organizers have a poor track record. Recent flops include Allstar's Instant Vanity (No. 7 in this Weekly Round-Up) and Glam Caddy, a very similar product from February of 2012. The challenge: Only a minority of women are interested enough in organization to buy such a product, and some of those women will have already purchased other organizers that are already on the market. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Flipperoos. Pitch: "The inside-out, upside-down flippable, changeable, wonderful friend." Comments: Unless this is Jay at Play, a company that has managed to have a hit in this category every year since Pillow Pets, I don't see how there could possibly be room in the market for another plush toy. [ss]
  4.  
  5. InstaDim. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "Easy to use, simple to remove dimming sheets to keep all your electronics lights at the perfect level." Comments: The problem with this one is going to be perceived value. It seems like it should be a 99-cent checkout item. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Luma Smile. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The at-home tooth polisher that gives you the 'fresh from the dentist' feeling." Comments: The success of Finishing Touch Smile (No. 51 on the 2012 JW Annual) surprised me and gave me a clue as to how big tooth whitening is as a category. Insofar as this item taps into that market, it has a solid shot at success. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Pocket Patch. Pitch: "Turn any pocket into a powerful cell phone radiation shield." Marketer: Will It Launch. Comments: Marketers continue to attempt to defy the aphorism that "prevention doesn't sell." This project also has the 'selling the invisible' problem and relies on fear-based selling of the kind I recently discussed in my Ebola 911 review. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Poo Pal. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Go from strained to stress-free, comfortable elimination simply by elevating your feet." Comments: This is the third attempt to market a 'stool for making stool.' Squatty Potty (No. 11 in this Weekly Round-Up) and Step & Go (No. 11 in this Weekly Round-Up) were the other two. (Note: The Website for this product is no longer live.) [ss]
  12.  
  13. Smart Strainer. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The space-making kitchen marvel that's five tools in one." Comments: Spark is on a roll with four of the projects in this round-up -- 50%! Pretty soon, I'll have to dedicate a round-up just to them like I do with Telebrands. In any case, and speaking of Telebrands, this project is reminiscent of Flat Fold Colander, a 2007 hit (No. 52 on the JW Annual). I liked the Popeet aspect of the product, but the "five tools in one" needlessly pushed this into Swiss Army territory, which hurts the clarity of the pitch. I know because in 2010 I worked on an unsuccessful project (Splattie) with a similar -- and similarly complex -- pitch. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Smart Topper. Pitch: "Turns almost any plate into an airtight storage container." Comments: This concept has been pitched before -- in the best way possible, the worst way possible and many ways in between. The fact that it never succeeded should have made it clear it's a Siren product. [ss]

November 28, 2014

SciMark Report from November Response


These guys just read Telebrands' Ebola 911

My latest SciMark Report in print is now available on the Response Website.

The items I reviewed include Telebrands' Ebola 911 book, Allstar's Wonder Whale and Ontel's Kitty Catch Mat .

Coming Soon

In the upcoming December issue, I'll be writing about this record first QUINTUPLE duel:

  1. Global TV's Jeaneez, vs.
  2.  
  3. Tristar's Slim Jeggings, vs.
  4.  
  5. Thane's Slim N Lift Caresse Jeans, vs.
  6.  
  7. SAS Group's Jazzy Jeggings, vs.
  8.  
  9. InvenTel's Hollywood Jeanz

Check out the upcoming issue to see what I have to say about this whole new level of competition!

November 27, 2014

Jewel Views

Description: Pendant reading glasses
Main Pitch: "The eyewear that's beautiful to wear"
Main Offer: $14.99 for a clear pair
Bonus: Black pair (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch it on iSpot.tv

I have logged at least three eyeglasses projects in recent years, all by Telebrands and none successful (see my Flip Vision review for the history). So can Top Dog get different results?

In this case, my answer is yes. The problem with eyeglasses has been that they are just too easy to buy. To break through, you'd need something truly unique and exciting ... and I think the Top Dog & H-M team has nailed it! If this doesn't work, this is a probably a Siren category that should be avoided in the future.

S7 Analysis: This project stacks up pretty well against The SciMark Seven. The big challenge will be entering a crowded category that is full of cheap solutions.

Max Lash

Description: Brush-on lash extensions
Main Pitch: "Longer, fuller, sexier lashes instantly"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of two plus carry case and mirror
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Ontel
Watch the spot

This is an attempt to mine 'Old Gold' with a similar solution. The original hit was SAS Group's Dream Lash, which was No. 45 on the 2004 JW Annual. Because I'm not sure how close this product is to that 2004 hit, I didn't make this an official 'Old Gold' feature, but the pitches are certainly similar.

S7 Analysis: In 2004, lash-enhancing products like this were less common. Today, the category has become much more crowded. There is even a prescription product for growing lashes "longer, fuller and darker" called Latisse. The growth in the number and promotion of similar solutions will also affect the uniqueness perception of the product. That is, women may not find it different enough to warrant purchase.

Otherwise, this project meets The SciMark Seven criteria. Clearly it is needed, and it is targeted toward one of the largest buying groups in America.

Genie Slimmers

Description: Shaping panty hose
Main Pitch: "So comfortable, you won't know you're wearing them -- and you'll look up to 10 pounds slimmer"
Main Offer: $10 for a pair in nude
Bonus: 2nd pair in black (free)
Brand: Genie
Starring: Stella Riches
Marketer: Tristar
Producer: Tara Productions
Watch the spot

In an industry where brand-building and line extensions are rare, Tristar took the Genie Bra (No. 10 on the 2012 Jordan Whitney annual) and parlayed it into a multimillion-dollar business . This latest addition will fit comfortably (get it?) into the line.

S7 Analysis: Yet again, the big challenge here will be competing in the very crowded shapewear category. However, Tristar has done it before, and this product has features that make it notably different from other shapewear on the market.

Stella Riches, a live shopping host, is also a solid choice for spokesperson with an engaging style. My only concern regarding the commercial is that it tries to communicate too many messages (comfort, three ways to wear the product, looking 10 pounds slimmer), and thus sacrifices clarity. If that creates confusion, it could become a sales killer.

HotDo

Description: Artificial hair
Main Pitch: "Hot new hair accessory ... looks so real it's unreal"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one (choice of 11 colors)
Bonus: Style Guide (free)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Concepts TV
Watch it on iSpot.tv

Even though this is not the same thing as Allstar's Secret Extensions, it's close in concept. (There's even a testimonial from an Hispanic "celebrity TV host"). That makes me think it would fit under the 'Secret' brand as well as the 'Hot' brand if it rolls out.

S7 Analysis: As with all projects attempted in this 1-in-50 category, the big challenge is being considered different enough (in a good way) to break through. Allstar has demonstrated that a large enough buying group views too little hair as a problem that needs solving, meaning this product could actually meet the needed criterion. But the fashion/style aspect of the product makes the outcome of this test anyone's guess.

Bambillo

Description: A bamboo pillow
Main Pitch: "Designed to perfectly adjust and support every shape, size and sleeping posture"
Main Offer: $29.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch it on iSpot.tv

I'm told bamboo is one of the hottest new trends in materials, and the pillow category certainly has an excellent track record, having supported up to four products on the shelf at one time (Total Pillow, Side Sleeper Pro, Sobakawa Cloud Pillow and My Pillow). That said, DR marketers have been all over pillows for years, and that has inevitably led to many failures as well. Ultimately, I'm not sure anyone really knows the secret to success in this category.

S7 Analysis: This project faces the same S7 challenges all pillows face: a crowded category and trouble engaging viewers because the product literally just lies there. That said, the commercial features credible testimonials, good animation (a la Contour Cloud Pillow, a 1998 hit involving this marketer) and a solid magic demo in the raw-egg test -- which from what I've seen is the right way to go about overcoming those challenges.

The only things I didn't like: the Australian angle (not sure that adds anything) and the "eight pillows in one" pitch, which made the commercial less clear.

Hercules Hooks: Old Gold?

Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Marketer: Vertical Branding
Original Hit Years: 2007 (No. 22 on JW, No. 44 on IMS)
Watch it on iSpot.tv

The original spot for this product starred Billy Mays, whose beard made him look more like Hercules than a clean-shaven Sully does. Otherwise, the pitch is remarkably similar.

S7 Analysis: This project meets all of The SciMark Seven criteria, which makes sense given it was already a hit. The question is whether, seven years later, the market has changed and the product is no longer different or needed enough to generate the impulse to buy.

As for the commercial, with the exception of the attention-grabbing voice of the late, great Billy Mays, it's every bit as engaging and motivating as the original.

November 20, 2014

Dump Dinners

Description: A cookbook
Main Pitch: "Make 'from scratch' dinners for your family in minutes -- just dump and bake"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Dump Cakes cookbook (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyDumpDinners.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

The unappetizing titles continue! According to my mid-year True Top Spenders of 2014, Dump Cakes is a bona-fide hit -- despite its not-too-tasty title. It's also getting great PR pickup. (Here's Cathy Mitchell pitching it on the Today show and to Steve Harvey.) Meanwhile, Dump Loaf, and product with an even less appetizing name, didn't go anywhere.

Now it's back to books, and this one makes a lot of sense. Originally the bonus item for Dump Cakes, this was a natural extension and likely has legs of its own -- despite the negative associations created by the title.

[Spot is also available here.]

Cat A Pillar

Description: A cat tunnel toy
Main Pitch: "Keep your feline friends busy for hours"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.BuyCatAPillar.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Telebrands deserves more than a flippant review, but I called it!

While eating crow for failing to predict the success of Cat's Meow, I wrote: "My only consolation will be watching 12 other cat toys fail as marketers demonstrate this isn't really a category ... Actually, that will be sad." We are now a third of the way there (see also Cheese Tease, SmartyKat Feather Whirl and Twinkle Paws).

Of course, this could work and really force me to eat crow. But I seriously doubt that. Like trying to have a hit with a hair product or fashion item, it's impossible to guess what cat owners will go crazy for .

[The commercial for this project is also available here.]

Purse Pouch

Description: A handbag holder
Main Pitch: "Keeps your purse and everything in it secure and right by your side"
Main Offer: $10 for one in black or tan
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Website: www.BuyPursePouch.com
Prediction: On the fence

Allstar has tested a solution similar to this one before (Bundle Buddy in 2011). This is a better product, but I question whether that's enough to fix a failed pitch. I do like the "hammock for your handbag" idea, and the success of Catch Caddy (21 weeks on the Jordan Whitney) suggests there is something to the idea of making things easier to access in the car.

[Spot is also available here.]

Kitty File

Description: A cat scratcher/laser toy
Main Pitch: "Now kitty can trim her own claws while she plays"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.KittyFile.com
Prediction: On the fence

Marketers continue to try bringing back old hits less than 7-10 years later. In this case the old hit is Emery Cat, which was No. 9 and No. 24 on the JW and IMS annuals, respectively, in 2010.

So far, though, the strategy hasn't produced a hit. Telebrands has been the most active this year, trying and failing to resurrect both Pedi Paws (a 2008 hit) and Shoes Under (a 2009 hit) . Of course, both Telebrands and Allstar have had success reviving items that conform to the traditional '7-10' rule -- sometimes in direct conflict with each other (see Perfect Pancake vs. Flip Jack).

As always, I appreciate it when I get an opportunity to learn for free. We'll see if this project is able to throw the old rule of thumb into question. I do like the new laser toy feature.

By the way, if you can think of an 'Old Gold' item that came back and made the annual charts again in under seven years, shoot me an email or post a comment. I'll give you a hat tip (and, as a result, bragging rights) the next time I write about this topic.

[The commercial for this project is also available here.]

Sealeeze

Description: A bag sealer
Main Pitch: "The new way to keep food fresh"
Main Offer: $14.95 for a pack of nine
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.BuySealeeze.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Bag sealers have a poor track record on DRTV. (See Ba'Noodle, Better Sealer and the failed revival of EuroSealer 10 years after it was a hit.

As I've mentioned before, I think this is because it's so easy to pick up "chip clips" and other good-enough solutions at the grocery store. There are also tons of quality food-storage products on the shelf by big brands such as Glad and Ziploc, which ultimately makes items like these solutions in search of a problem.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Mighty Meatball. Starring: Marc Gill. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: The Schwartz Group. Pitch: "Shape, stuff and seal four delicious meatballs at once." Comments: Stufz, the hamburger version of this idea, was a mid-year 2014 True Top Spender. Although the meatloaf version of this idea didn't work, I think it's possible the meatball version will. Made me hungry! Come to think of it, I'm surprised this wasn't tried as part of a new Stufz line. It would also make a good addition to Allstar's 'Perfect' line. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Adjust A Plug. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Plug in hundreds of different size adapters without blocking another socket." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' The $29.95 price point may have had something to do with it. Side Socket was $14.95 and, more to the point, was likely an outlier instead of a category. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Chop N Twist. Pitch: "Easily rotate your foods as you chop them." Comments: "Easily" implies difficulty, but I don't know a single person who has difficulty rotating their food when chopping it. Talk about a contrived problem! [ss]
  6.  
  7. Cord Cruncher. Pitch: "The retractable ear bud system ... with no tangles, ever." Comments: For some reason, I have evaluated at least a half dozen solutions for tangled headphone cords in the last few years. It's a classic case of developers mistaking an annoyance for a real problem. (Or solving an "itch" not a "heart attack," if you prefer the language of the Fabulous Five.) As I've mentioned, the tech-accessory category also has a terrible track record on DRTV. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Hanger Jack Scroll. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Provides hanging space when you need it." Comments: Although better in quality than the last few products from this marketer, this product also has no shot at success. The reason is category history: Every attempt to market an outside-of-the-closet hanging solution has failed, and there have been many over the years. [ss]
  10.  
  11. iSeeit. Pitch: "Lights up your remote control in the dark." Comments: A solution in search of a problem. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Nu Seat. Marketer: Eagle Eye. Producer: Opfer. Pitch: "Slip-on auto seat cover" covers "years of damage, dirt and grime." Comments: This is the car version of EZ Covers. That one didn't work, and it is unlikely this one will, either. That's probably because too small of a segment drives cars beat up enough for this to be a real problem. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Stay Cold. Pitch: "Keeps your drinks ice cold from the first sip to the last." Comments: I didn't realize Larry The Cable Guy had fallen on such hard times! Anyway, this is WAY out of season given the snowstorms crippling many parts of the country right now. Even in season, this won't work because it doesn't solve a real problem. Neat party trick, though. [ss]

November 13, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Body Bling. Marketer: Emson. Pitch: "The hot new metallic jewelry tattoos." Comments: Third to market with a 'me too' solution. With two powerful players already dueling, this one is going nowhere fast. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Hyper Disc. Pitch: "Spins and hovers like no other." Comments: Cool toy. Great spot and demos. Anyone's guess if it will be successful. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Lava Thaw. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Defrosts meat in minutes." Comments: A 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) This could also be considered an attempt at 'Old Gold' given a similar item (Miracle Thaw) was a hit in 1995. However, this is at least the third failed attempt to bring it back (see Smart Thaw). [ss]
  6.  
  7. Plusharoos. Pitch: "Soft, cuddly toys you craft, play and decorate." Comments: Another plush toy. Yay! [ss]
  8.  
  9. Rapid Roaster. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Microwave roasting pan ... delivers oven-roasted results three times faster." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) Despite the success of Stone Wave and Potato Express, both 2013 True Top Spenders, I continue to believe the microwave is a bad DR category. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Squeeze Driver. Marketer: Arrow. Pitch: "Just squeeze to drive screws, nuts and bolts." Comments: Unsurprisingly, manual versions of powered products don't do well on DRTV -- especially when the powered product sells for about the same price. [ss]
  12.  
  13. TruTac. Marketer: Arrow. Pitch: "Home stapler ... is your ultimate home project solution." Comments: This is a classic 'better than' product, and such products do not drive direct response. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Tush Ups. Starring: Megan Gunning. Pitch: "The new shapewear that gives you a perfect derriere." Comments: This pitch has been tried several times without success. I detail the attempts in this review. Timing is everything, though, and shapewear has certainly been a good DR category. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Unframe. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "A fast and affordable way to display family pics, greeting cards and more." Comments: Unbelievably un-DR. [ss]
  18.  
  19. Xglide. Pitch: "Speed painter ... paints everything in half the time." Comments: This is a bit of a contraption, which undermines its credibility, and the category history is pretty sparse. IdeaVillage's EdgeMaster (2001-2002) was the biggest success, and even that one failed to rise again. [ss]

November 05, 2014

New Column: Field Report


I've been asked to write another column, this one for the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). The monthly post is called "Field Report" and covers issues, challenges, questions, trends, etc. that are being discussed and debated at the top companies in our industry (since I often talk with the executives at most of them).

My inaugural column discusses the most important number in DR. What do you think it is?

Click here to read what I think.

My Cleaning Secret

Description: A cleaning solution
Main Pitch: "Makes pots, pans, ovens and more look like new"
Main Offer: $9.95 for one tub plus a double-sided cleaning pad
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Chef Tony Notaro
Brand: Simoniz
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing
Website: www.MyCleaningSecret.com
Prediction: N/A

I originally reviewed this project back in July (see No. 14 in this massive Weekly Round-Up). It was apparently not a 'fast fail.' My comments were otherwise unfavorable.

Since then, the success of projects such as InstaGone Pro and InVinceable has changed my thinking a bit. Both broke through in the cleaning category by being different and not going after territory (carpets, counter tops. laundry) already dominated by mega-brands. This 'pots, pans and other things' pitch may just work. The involvement of Allstar is certainly a positive sign.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Diamond Z4 Eternity. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The look and feel of a brilliant, expensive, genuine diamond." Comments: This is fascinating as it is a 'pro' strategy applied to jewelry. The original Diamond Z4, a different cut of CZ, was a 2012 True Top Spender. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Gentle Gel. Marketer: Norman Direct. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The cozy toe topper that's lined with gel on the inside to relieve and comfort achy feet." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) [ss]
  4.  
  5. No Sweat Socks. Marketer: Norman Direct. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The super-stretchy, completely comfortable socks that keep your feet cool and dry." Comments: Seems like this would only appeal to a segment of a segment (perhaps the same hyperhidrotics who would buy No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up). Also, there are already socks on the market from familiar brands that promise similar benefits. [ss]
  6.  
  7. One Stop Shine. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "All-in-one waterless car miracle that cleans your car from roof to rim." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' Until Avento's Wipe New (a 2012 and 2013 True Top Spender), I didn't think it was possible to have success in this category. But one hit does not a good DRTV category make -- as this attempt helps demonstrate. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Phone Slicker. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Crystal clear, all-weather protection that shields your smart phone from accidental water damage." Comments: Will it launch? No. Besides the fact that it has the perceived value of a sandwich bag and is in one of the worst DR categories right now (phone accessories), the concept has already been tried without success (see IdeaVillage's Reef Case). [ss]
  10.  
  11. Power Blaster Pro. Pitch: "Turns any garden hose into a powerful, portable pressure washer." Comments: Yet another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) This 'Old Gold' item was brought back by Ontel (see Turbo Jet) earlier this year, and Telebrands took a few shots at similar items this year as well (see Mighty Blaster, Turbo Shot). [ss]

October 30, 2014

Aero Slim Grill

Description: A stovetop grill
Main Pitch:"Cuts added fat out and keeps delicious flavor in"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one, Forever Sharp knife (just pay a separate fee)
Brand: Ogreenic
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Website: www.AeroSlimGrill.com
Prediction: On the fence

This product has been a regular at pitch shows for years. An insider once told me that it always draws a crowd because pitchmen add an extra ingredient to generate a strong, smoky smell. However, until someone revives and popularizes Smell-O-Vision, that won't be replicable on TV.

So what about the rest of the pitch? Back in 2001, a version of this product called Mighty Pro Grill had a decent run in long form. Since then, it has been tried twice in short form -- once by Telebrands in 2009 (Grilltastic) and once by Ontel (Keoku Grill) some time after -- without success. Neither creative was particularly good (the latter being especially bizarre), so adding a top-notch production by the industry leader in food-related DR should improve results considerably.

The addition of the ceramic coating and the Orgreenic brand might also have been helpful, but both are a bit played out these days. All in all, I'm 50/50 on this one because of the creative and the fact that I have always liked this item.

[Spot is also available here.]

Still Chilled

Description: An insulated water bottle
Main Pitch: "Stays colder, longer -- guaranteed!"
Main Offer: $10 for one in black or blue
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.StillChilled.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Allstar's 2006 hit Auto Cool happened to coincide with a summer heatwave. This item could possibly take off the same way in a similar environment. But here in the Northeast, where we are already experiencing winter temps, it just isn't appealing.

In other words, this is one of those items that, if it doesn't work, I would file for re-testing at a more appropriate time.

[Spot is also available here.]

Booty Blanket

Description: A blanket with booties
Main Pitch: "The cozy blanket with booties for your feet"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one in gray, cream or brown
Bonus: 2nd one in same color (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BootyBlanket.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I'm fairly certain this item was one of the many Snuggie wannabes tried during the industry's rush in 2010 to prove there's only room for one and that novelty blankets were not some quirky new category. That said, it's an interesting question whether novelty items can be resurrected at some point in the future -- and that's a hypothesis Telebrands seems determined to continue testing. Their experimentation began at the beginning of this year with Goody Hoody and continues with this item.

I'm doubtful that this concept can ever work again, but I certainly appreciate the opportunity to learn something new for free.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Big Mouth Mask. Pitch: "Use anybody's face and you can take their place." Marketer: On Demand. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Comments: Depending on your tastes, this is weird, creepy -- or totally awesome! As much as I love to preach and follow tried-and-true rules, sometimes you have to take a flyer, and this product is unique enough to warrant taking a shot. The online animated version of this idea seems to be popular, so who knows? [ss]
  2.  
  3. Cupdini. Pitch: "The never-spill cup holder." Comments: Neat idea, but I don't think this issue is very high on the problem scale. How often do people drive with open containers? [ss]
  4.  
  5. Knits Cool. Pitch: "Knit your favorite fashions in minutes." Comments: Are favorite fashions knitted these days? Are young girls at all interested in knitting? Or is this a granny Rainbow Loom that should never have tested? My gut answers are no, no and yes. Knits cool? No knits not. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Magic Finder. Pitch: "You'll never lose anything ever again ." Comments: When I first saw this concept on a 'crowdfunding' site, I really liked it. Not sure how well it will do on DRTV, though, given smart phone-related items have a terrible track record. Plus, this customer skews much younger than the average TV buyer. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Softa Sofa. Pitch: "Doggie sofa that protects your furniture from hair, dirt, slobber and odors." Comments: As far as I can tell, no pet bed or blanket has ever been deemed a success, and many have been tried (Pet Cave, Bunga Bed, Pet Spread, Better Pet Blanket, Pet Rider & PetZoom Loungee). I also don't see much here to differentiate this from the dozens of similar solutions at retail. [ss]
  10.  
  11. StickO. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Tiny but powerful universal phone mount ... travels with you everywhere you go." Comments: This is more of a premium than an item, especially with more substantial competitors on the market such as Allstar's GripGo (a rollout) and Emson's Clever Grip (undetermined). [ss]
  12.  
  13. ThermoGo. Pitch: "The comfortable heating pad that keeps you ... warm and toasty." Marketer: Edison Nation. Comments: I've had some experience in this category, none of it positive. Telebrands' Therma Scarf and Lenfest's Snap 'N Soothe come to mind. Besides seasonality, this product would really only appeal to someone who spends a lot of time outdoors ... shortly after being somewhere there's a microwave handy. The cold pitch at the end is also strange. I can't think of anyone who'd want a frozen butt? [ss]
  14.  
  15. Wonder Watch. Producer: Concepts TV. Pitch: "Extra-large numbers ... makes telling time at a glance fast and easy." Comments: After the success of EZ Eyes, many marketers (including myself) took a hard look at every other large-print gadget that had ever sold well. Some projects even made it to TV (see Clear Call). However, none found success, proving the keyboard was an outlier and not a category. [ss]

October 23, 2014

Comeback Wrap


Even The Honeymooners love it!

Description: A compression back wrap
Main Pitch: "Helps relieve the pain from stress on your back"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.ComebackWrap.com
Prediction: On the fence

Give credit to Telebrands for leaving no stone unturned in a category. Despite recently testing Royal Posture (a superior solution to this one) and making several unsuccessful attempts with other back-pain solutions (e.g. Total Posture/Sit Right), they aren't afraid to keep trying.

On the other hand, Telebrands has had success with compression wraps (Ankle Genie) and slimming wraps (Slim Away, a 2011 and 2012 True Top Spender) -- and slimming is the secondary pitch for this item.

It's a long shot, but it's still a shot.

[Spot is also available here.]

Foot Angel

Description: A foot compression sleeve
Main Pitch: "Helps relieve foot and ankle pain in seven different zones"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Website: www.BuyFootAngel.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This product is similar to Telebrands' Ankle Genie, a True Top Spender for the first half of this year. Even more intriguing, Ankle Genie was originally called Ankle Angel.

Is this a sanctioned test? An Ouroboros strategy? Both?

Whatever the case, I am going to go with "there's only room for one." This is too close to Ankle Genie, and Ankle Genie is too recent, for this to be successful. In 7-10 years, however, this could be an excellent choice for a revival of the concept.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Cuplettes. Producer: Infomercials Inc. Pitch: "Premium silicone bakeware that easily allows you to bake a fillable hole into any of your favorite foods." Comments: This is a beautifully shot commercial with all the special hallmarks of this producer's unique style. However, similar products have been tried without success (see Brownie Derby, Fill 'N Flavor). [ss]
  2.  
  3. Hans. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Clean to remove the grease germs call home plus polish and shine." Comments: Another terrible product idea. Only extreme germophobes would even consider buying this. For everyone else, the pant-leg solution (shown in the opening of this commercial) suffices just fine. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Kitty Clean Mat. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "Amazing new litter-catch mat stops litter in its tracks." Comments: This product is similar to (although better than) Ontel's Kitty Catch Mat, which I will be reviewing in the upcoming November issue of Response. Sneak peek: I don't like the concept because shedding cat fur is a bigger problem and has yet to produce a hit. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Wooltastic. Marketer: Lenfest. Pitch: "All-natural reusable dryer balls that soften your laundry and eliminate wrinkled messes" Comments: Ontel's Dryer Balls was a major retail success circa 2006. Allstar's Mister Steamy was a 2010 True Top Spender. This product has elements of both but isn't as good as either. [ss]

October 22, 2014

SciMark Report from October Response


Body art is the latest duel

My latest SciMark Report in print is now available on the Response Website.

The items I reviewed include a duel between Allstar's Hot Jewels [ss] and IdeaVillage's Shimmer Jewelry Tattoos [ss], Ontel's Big Vision [ss] and Telebrands' Security Sleeves [ss].

I experimented with using survey data to inform my opinions in this column. Let me know what you think of the approach.

Coming Soon

In the upcoming November issue, I'll be covering the following new projects:

Check out the upcoming issue to see what I have to say about those projects.

October 16, 2014

Weekly Round-Up


Prediction: Hit!

  1. Janimals. Marketer: Jay At Play. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The wearable stuffed animals." Comments: This is a great product with tons of play value and maximum "pester power" potential. The creative is, of course, excellent and features a super-catchy jingle. Finally, this marketer/distributor is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the opportunity. This one's a layup! [ss]
  2.  
  3. Air Bead Cushion. Pitch: "Perfectly contours to your bottom for comfort and support." Comments: Air bead cushion? Whoopee cushion is more like it! It's not quite that bad, but the sound this makes is certainly embarrassing and will be a barrier to purchase. Otherwise, this is the Sobakawa Cloud Pillow idea applied to the Forever Comfy concept, which should give it a decent shot. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Cheese Tease. Pitch: "The exciting new electronic cat toy that makes your kitty jump for joy." Comments: Yet another ill-fated attempt to replicate the success of Cat's Meow. Yet another free data point for the rest of us. [ss]
  6.  
  7. One Pan. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Kerrmercials. Pitch: "Three different meals made at the same time with just one pan." Comments: Hearthware tried a variation of this idea with its L'ovenware silicone bakeware back in the spring of 2012. They called it the "twice as nice divider tray." (You can watch the pitch here.) At the time, I thought there might be something to the idea. But upon further consideration, I find it hard to imagine two things people would want to cook together (and that would cook properly at exactly the same temperature and cooking time), let alone three things. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Under Light. Marketer/Producer: Zoom TV. Pitch: "Motion-activated accent lighting for your home." Comments: Zoom products have higher-than-average odds of success, and this creative does an excellent job selling the product and making it look high quality. That said, the product is an LED light and thus finds itself in one of the worst Siren categories in the industry right now. On a side note, I may have detected a theme ... Zoom's Aqua Rug is based on a product made for yachts. This pitch is all about replicating the kind of accent lighting found in "million-dollar designer homes." Someone has been shopping for ideas at the One Percenter Store! [ss]