February 28, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Jiffy Fries. Marketer: Edison Nation. Pitch: "The fast, fresh, easy way to make perfect fries every day." Comments: My first instinct was to compare this to Perfect Fries and predict "unlikely to succeed." But this is more than a fry cutter: It's also a fry cooker. Even the way it cuts seems more likely to succeed now that Chop Magic is in rollout. It's another microwave product -- normally a negative -- but I've been wrong about potatoes in the microwave before. Official prediction: On the fence. Excellent creative, incidentally, which can only help. [ss]
  3. Breathe Active. Starring: Brian Fasulo. Pitch: Expands "your air intake up to 70% ... while significantly decreasing snoring." Comments: This is a 'better than' Breathe Right and more of a retail item than a DRTV item. [ss]
  5. CeramaBrush. Marketer: Eagle Eye. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "Ceramic straightening brush straightens hair twice as fast for twice the shine." Comments: The category history for hair brushes isn't great, but there has been the occasional rollout. [ss]
  7. ComfiShape. Pitch: "Ultra comfortable shaping leggings with attached skirt." Comments: This item is more fashion choice than problem solver, so I'm not surprised it was a 'fast fail.' [ss]
  9. Simoniz Eyeglass Polish. Pitch: "The fast, easy way to clean, polish and condition eyeglasses." Comments: This one has powerful competition. [ss]
  11. Gripeez. Pitch: "Reusable gripping pad lets you hang any object anywhere in just seconds." Comments: Credibility is the problem here as the failure of two similar items (Jerry Hook, Nano Hooks) demonstrated. I also think it's less useful than those other products were. [ss]
  13. Hydro Heel. Producer: Classitech. Pitch: "Get rid of rough, dry, cracked heels in minutes." Comments: This has been tried on DRTV before (see No. 2 in this Weekly Round-Up) without success. [ss]
  15. Juice Wizard. Pitch: "Separates peel and fiber for instant pure, fresh juice." Comments: Juicers have done extremely well in long form at high prices, so a value-priced juicer has a decent shot. On the other hand, taking something that's typically powered and making it manual hasn't been a successful strategy. I'm thinking about manual food processors such as the Kitchen King Pro, for example. [ss]
  17. Kleva Edge. Starring: James Cheney. Pitch: "Opens all cans quickly and easily without the mess and without the stress." Comments: If a truly 'kleva' product such as the One Touch Can Opener can't make a comeback, I don't think this Safety Can revival from Down Under has a chance. Solid pitch work, though. [ss]
  19. Rocky Mountain Knife. Starring: Thom Buck. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "All the strength and tools to help you survive." Comments: The 80s called ... They want their knife back! (HT: Radio Shack) The short name/URL for this is "Rocky Knife," which is ironic given that this is a classic Rambo knife from 30 years ago. I had one and loved it. Hey, Stallone is making movies again, so you never know! [ss]
  21. Seat Tweener. Pitch: "Prevents dropped items (in your car) from becoming lost items." Comments: I submit that any time you find yourself saying or writing "it's a frustrating annoyance," you should stop and reconsider the project. Painful problems generate the impulse to buy. Anything less and your odds go way down. Not to mention: This has already been tried -- twice. See Kleva Catch (No. 8 in this Weekly Round-Up) and Drop Stop (in that post's comments). [ss]
  23. Sleep 8. Pitch: "Eliminates 100% of light and blocks out ambient noise." Comments: This will only appeal to a segment of a segment, which makes the odds of success very low. [ss]
  25. Snuggle Case Pets. Pitch: "The soft, on the go smartphone case for kids." Comments: Cute idea that meets a need, but there are a lot of solutions to the problem already on the market. [ss]
  27. Super Back. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "In shower, rinse away back hair removal system." Comments: There's a lot of gross factor in this commercial, but that isn't always a bad thing (see Ped Egg). More to the point, hirsute males are a segment of a segment. [ss]

February 25, 2014

Night View Visor

Description: A visor accesory
Main Pitch: "Turn fuzzy and dull into clear and bright ... especially at night"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.NightViewVisor.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This project isn't quite "third to market with a me-too solution," and it isn't quite a triple duel, either. But it is a close cousin of both and a poor choice as a result.

The other relevant campaigns here, both of which appear to be rolling out, are Easy View HD and HD Vision Visor. This isn't technically a "me-too" because it reverses the pitch of the latter, focusing on night and then day, and the former only focuses on day. (Actually, the original HD Vision Visor commercial was day then night. It has now been changed to lead with night.) This also isn't a "triple duel" because it's coming out six months after Easy View HD and nearly two months after HD Vision Visor, both of which will be formidable given such big head-starts.

Some other points of interest: This is a line and brand extension of Night View glasses (see No. 9), which interestingly is a first-to-market hit that was followed (also six months later) by a me-too competitor (HD Vision Night Vision Wraparounds). The second-to-market company in that case is also the second-to-market company in this case (IdeaVillage). Confused yet? Well, such is the state of DR these days!

Finally, a note on the creative: The testimonials technique used in this commercial neatly solves the problem I identified with the HD Vision Visor creative. No setup is required in this spot because the car isn't moving. Of course, that attention to detail shouldn't be a surprise given the commercial was created by a True Top Producer that also happens to do the best testimonials in the business.


Description: A candy dispenser
Main Pitch: "Now everyone's favorite treat is right at their fingertips"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.GetYummyGoRound.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Another odd choice for Telebrands. On its face, this is a fun novelty item instead of a problem-solver, which is what makes it a strange choice for DRTV. However, there is a problem presented in this commercial, and it's worthy of further consideration.

For the sake of this analysis, let's call the problem 'kid messes' and consider a broad category I'll call 'kid mess prevention.' What past items fit that category, and how have they done? Several items spring to mind.

The first one is Merchant Media/Allstar's Touch N Brush (see No. 5), which prevented toothpaste messes. That item was a solid hit. The second one is Edison Nation's Gyro Bowl, which prevented bowl spills and was also a hit. The third and final one is the various juice/milk/soda dispensers that have been tried on DRTV. I'm thinking of Magic Tap (tested thrice) in particular. Those items ultimately flopped.

My guess is that this item is more like Magic Tap than Touch N Brush or Gyro Bowl. It lacks the extreme uniqueness of Touch N Brush or the extreme 'wow factor' of Gyro Bowl. It's different, but it's not one of a kind. It's fun, but it's not super exciting. Like Magic Tap, it's more utilitarian than anything else.

If anyone can think of other case studies in this "category," please feel free to email me or use the comments section below.

February 13, 2014

Dueling Car Organizers

Hook 'N Hang

Description: A hanging car organizer
Main Pitch: "Simply hook on to your seat, then hang any item"
Main Offer: $14.95 for two, Car Entertainer
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.HookNHang.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Headrest Helper

Main Pitch: "Transforms your car headrest into a handy storage hanger"
Main Offer: $10 for two
Bonus: GripGo (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Lenfest
Producer: Opfer
Website: www.HeadrestHelper.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I just shared my thoughts about the Lenfest product in this Weekly Round-Up (see No. 3). The 'spilled stuff' pitch hasn't worked in the past, and I am not a big fan of organization items.

Comparing the two, I think Lenfest clearly has the better product and offer, including a proven bonus item. Of course, if this ever became a retail duel, Tristar would have an edge. But thinking about the players that would be involved, it would never come to that. (Nice to be able to write that these days!)

And yes, Tristar is recycling that name. The original Hook 'N Hang was a closet organizer tested in late 2008.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Push & Prep. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "Miracle cutting tool lets you chop, slice, dice, mince in seconds." Comments: This is a glorified apple slicer. The problem: Once you get past apples -- and maybe potatoes -- the uses seem like a stretch. It becomes a lesser Chop Magic. [ss]
  3. Dual Scope. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Telescope and microscope in one pocket-sized device." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' That's one for the "outlier" column (a reference to Zoomies). [ss]
  5. No Wack Tack. Starring: Karl Champley. Pitch: "Easily hang it all on the wall, and nothing will fall." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) This is another tricky category. There have been successes (Hercules Hooks, Insta Hang), but also many failures, and there doesn't seem to be a clear reason why. [ss]
  7. Thigh Perfect. Marketer: National Express. Pitch: "Makes it easy to get the thighs you crave." Comments: Another pricey fitness gadget. Not too many successes to point to these days, but people keep trying ... Wait! What's with that rap track? Did the Garden Thug guys do this spot? [ss]

February 11, 2014

In the News

Good PR pickup for Allstar and CEO Scott Boilen today.

From MarketWatch:

It’s a question that veteran “As Seen on TV” marketer Scott Boilen asked when he was given the opportunity to introduce yet another bacon product to an already crowded marketplace. But Boilen couldn't resist the invention, a simple gizmo that turns a few strips of bacon into an edible shell. And so the Bacon Bowl was launched by Boilen's Allstar Products Group via a series of infomercials in late 2013.

In a brief period, Boilen's New York-based company has sold more than two million units of the $10.99 bacon cooker, making the Bowl a success story potentially on par with the Snuggie, to name Boilen’s biggest “As Seen on TV” hit.

The lesson? Never underestimate the power of bacon, says Boilen: “It's almost become a cult-like food.”

The full article is here.

The most interesting thing to me in that introduction is the phrase "never underestimate the power of bacon." This is akin to something I have been saying lately: Bacon is on a different level than any other food.

I have been using the phrase as an admonition, an attempt to dissuade people from wasting money on what is probably inevitable -- a dozen or so pointless attempts to have a hit with another kind of bowl made of food. Meatloaf bowls! Pasta bowls! Fajita steak bowls! Gyro bowls! (Wait, that last one was actually a hit product ... although it wasn't made of gyro meat.)

The point is that bacon is a special food that inspires a special kind of lust (hence my "food porn" comment). For example, it's the only kind of meat I can think of that you wrap around other kinds of meat. So let's all keep that in mind, calm down and not let 'edible bowls' turn into another Siren category.

February 07, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Boxer Ball. Pitch: "The latest home boxing workout that combines powerful muscle toning with intense aerobic training." Comments: Short-form fitness is a 1 in 50 category, and this product looks difficult to master -- as anyone who has tried to hit a speed bag well knows. [ss]
  3. Burger Blaster. Pitch: "Prepare juicy, delicious burgers in your microwave in just five minutes." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' Just because people seem to believe you can bake potatoes in the microwave, that doesn't mean they'll believe you can make anything but rubbery hockey pucks out of hamburger meat. [ss]
  5. Headrest Helper. Marketer: Lenfest. Producer: Opfer. Pitch: "Transforms your car headrest into a handy storage hanger." Comments: I've had personal experience with projects that attempted to solve similar problems (e.g. Bundle Buddy). The pitch doesn't seem to resonate. Great bonus item, though. Someone should do it as a lead product. [ss]
  7. LinQ. Pitch: "Positions your phone safely, securely and comfortably in the palm of your hand." Comments: Amateur hour. Note to the writer of this spot: "Evolutionary" is as bad as "revolutionary" -- maybe worse. From what exactly is this product supposed to have evolved? Note to everyone else: I am about to add "cell phone accessories" to my list of bad categories. Despite many attempts, there hasn't been a single success to date. [ss]
  9. Lit-R Lev-R. Pitch: "Effortless opening and pouring of 2-liter bottles for anyone of any age." Comments: Same marketer, same amateurish result. Also: A solution in search of a problem. [ss]
  11. Muffin Top Magic. Pitch: "The fast, easy and fun way to make the best part of any muffin." Comments: Looking at the name, I thought this may have been a knockoff of Trendy Top (bah-DUM-bum). Anyway, baking has proved to be a tough category with low odds of success, and it only seems to work well for common baked goods (e.g. brownies). [ss]
  13. Pop Me Open. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The amazing new way to instantly open any jar." Comments: A 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) Telebrands tried a similar item in November of last year. [ss]
  15. Rumidifier. Marketer: Media Corp. Pitch: "The fast, easy way to humidify your home." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' Strikes me as a better engineered but less attractive Aqua Stone. The vent pitch is different and compelling, but my thoughts about needing to see "visible fog" are the same. [ss]
  17. Shnoozles. Pitch: "The time-tested, ritual-based system that supports sound, healthy sleep for your child and a stress-free environment for you." Comments: This project was clearly conceived and directed by people with a lot of expertise in sleep therapy -- and no expertise in DRTV. The commercial itself "supports sound, healthy sleep"! [ss]

February 05, 2014

Nightlight Mat

Description: A light-up floor mat
Main Pitch: "The lights come on the moment your feet hit the floor"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.NightLightMat.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This strikes me as an impractical solution to the problems mentioned. More to the point, it has been tried twice before without success. The first attempt was Step 'N Shine in September of 2008 (No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up). The second attempt was Night Bright Mat in December 2010 (No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up).

Unless you are pitching a stuffed burger maker, the third time is never the charm.

One thing that isn't clear: Whether this is the first time a less-than-$20 price point has been tried. The 2008 product was two payments of $19.99, and the price of the 2010 product has been lost to memory.

Potty Patch: Old Gold?

New Name: Repeat Potty Pad

Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Marketer: Eagle Eye
Original Hit Year: 2010 (No. 32 on my True Top 50)
Website: www.RepeatPottyPad.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

There are two major reasons why I don't think this project will be successful. One, it has only been three years since Potty Patch hit its peak, and that generally isn't enough time for a Phoenix to rise again. In fact, PottyPatch.com is still live, and the product can aslo be found on the Petco Website.

Two, Emson already tried to bring the concept back, under its Pet Zoom brand, in the summer of 2012. (See No. 6 in this Weekly Round-Up.)

That said, it's possible Telebrands has a different strategy in mind here. I call it the "poor man's [fill in the blank]" strategy. That is to say, perhaps they aren't looking at this as "old gold" but as an opportunity to bring a "poor man's Potty Patch" to market. The Potty Patch is $40. This is $10.

Given another Telebrands $10 'pee product' (Bullseye Pee Pads) is sitting atop the charts right now, that strategy is not without merit.

Hot Glowz

Description: Light-up hair extensions
Main Pitch: "Add fabulous flair to your hair"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of 3 (blue, white, pink)
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: As Seen on Productions
Website: www.HotGlowz.com
Prediction: N/A

I couldn't possibly guess if this is something young girls would like, so I'll use this space to talk about the TV history of similar items ...

Back in 2011, Telebrands rolled out with Snap-On Feathers (No. 12 in this Weekly Round-Up), but it wasn't a major hit. To wit: It made my Summer True Top 50, but did not make my True Top 50 of the year.

Then in 2012, Allstar hit it big with Hot Huez hair chalk. (On a related note, this is the fifth attempt under the "Hot" brand I have tracked. The others were Hot Buns, Hot Bob and Hot Designs.)

Also worth mentioning: IdeaVillage tried a light-up scrunchie that was a fast fail in November of last year (see No. 7 in this Weekly Round-Up) ... And that's all I got!

Lens Doctor: Old Gold?

New Name: Scratch 911
Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Marketer: DTR (Victor Grillo)
Original Hit Year: 2007 (No. 31 on the JW Annual)
Website: www.GetScratch911.com
Prediction: On the fence

The magic of the original product was in the "right before your eyes" eyeglass-repair demo. Insofar as that has been captured, this revival attempt has a shot. I also like that the product comes in a different form than the original as I tend to believe reviving an old item requires a new twist.

Finally, they've also expanded the uses to include modern problems (e.g. scratched phone screens), which can only help. We'll see ...

February 03, 2014

Copper Wear

Description: Copper-infused compression sleeves
Main Pitch: "Specifically designed to give you compression when you need it to help you move the way you want"
Main Offer: $14.99 and up
Bonus: N/A
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.CopperWear.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Remember that multi-player conflict I said might be brewing? (And there are signs a third competitor might hit the market in a few weeks or so.)

I suppose this should have been a duel, but the difference in creatives is such that it wouldn't be much of a contest. I still haven't discovered who did the commercial for Copper Flex, but that creative is an order of magnitude better than this creative. (Update: It was Blue Reef Productions out of Los Angeles.)

For my thoughts on the product, see that earlier review. I will add that if this marketer has a long-form strategy in mind or in play, that makes more sense to me that trying to pitch sportswear to the short-form demographic.

Straight 2 Sleep

Description: A pillow
Main Pitch: "Cradles your head like an infant in its mother's arms"
Main Offer: $29.99 for one (queen/standard)
Bonus: None
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Website: www.GetStraight2Sleep.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think enough time has passed since there were four pillows on the shelf for the pillow category to experience a resurgence. That said, I recall being surprised by just how many pillows were able to co-exist in one end cap, so you never know.

As for the commercial, I found the pitch to be overwrought. Lines like "cradles your head like an infant in its mother's arms" and "why take a sleeping pill when you can have a sleeping pillow?" are just trying too hard. The consumer has eyes and can plainly see this is a fairly typical pillow, so the exaggerated claims just destroy any credibility the product may have had.

Pocket Cam

Description: A miniature video camera
Main Pitch: "Get hours of action video you could never get with a handheld camera"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Swivel mount, dash mount, shirt clip, lanyard
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyPocketCam.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Assuming that credibility isn't a factor, there's definitely a market for a poor man's GoPro since those cameras retail for $200 and up. But is the DR buyer the right target for such a product? I don't think so.

That's pretty clear from the commercial, which features very few "everyday" uses. Skateboarding, zip-lining, go-carting and alligator-feeding aren't exactly things our 50+ target customer does often. And the other uses are handled pretty well with a smart phone or nanny cam.

As with a product such as Magic Jack, I think there is probably a pretty big market for this item. It's just not the DR market.

Pasta Express: Old Gold?

New Name: Pastafina
Current Marketer: SAS Group
Original Hit Year: 2006 (No. 30 on the JW Annual)
Original Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.BuyPastaFina.com
Prediction: On the fence

I liked this product when it came out originally, and I think this revival version hits all the same, correct notes. The magic was always watching the pasta move as it cooks, and the production team has captured that. Tony is also in his element pitching anything Italian, and it shows in the passion he puts into his delivery. Bottom line, I have nothing but positive comments about the commercial and the pitch.

The only question for me is whether this is the kind of item you can bring back. What the product actually does is pretty basic and underwhelming, so the marketer is banking on seven years being long enough for people to have forgotten the item so they'll "fall for" the pitch a second time.

I'm truly 50/50 as to whether that will work.