April 24, 2014

Mighty Blaster

Description: A hose nozzle
Main Pitch: "Produce up to 50% more power than traditional hoses"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.MightyBlaster.com
Prediction: On the fence

The "fireman's nozzle" has been a successful pitch-market item for some time. Credit Telebrands for finally giving it a try, and doing it with a twist to make it look different from all the nozzles currently selling in catalogs, online, etc.

The DRTV history here is also positive. National Express had a hit with Water Jet in 2009 and 2010 (more on this later). And, of course, Telebrands had the original hit in this category with Water Sweep back in 1998 (No. 12 on the JW Annual that year).

As for this product and commercial, I see a lot to like. This is a bit of a 'Swiss Army' product and pitch, but the main focus is on pressure and that's compelling. I also like the comfort grip. As for the commercial, it covers all the bases. I would have put the magic demos (second story, top of tree) much earlier in the spot, but that's a minor criticism.

On a related note: Telebrands won't be alone in its attempt to have a new hit in this category. As is typical these days, and as I just noted, Ontel has launched Turbo Jet -- a direct attempt to bring back Water Jet.

Miracle Copper Socks

Description: Copper-infused compression socks
Main Pitch: "Boost circulation, reduce swelling and help relieve aches and soreness"
Main Offer: $19.99 for two pairs
Bonus: 2 tubes of Miracle Foot Pain Relief Cream
Marketer: Ontel
Website: www.MiracleCopper.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

In this month's edition of Response magazine, I write about Tristar's CopperWear Ankle and recount the details of the feeding frenzy created by Tommie Copper's long reign at the top of the DRTV charts. No need to recap that here, but for the record this is the fifth copper garment and fourth marketer to join that fray.


Description: A universal gadget mount
Main Pitch: "Holds gadgets tight and keeps them right in sight"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.MyGrabIt.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

It has been seven months since Allstar launched Grip Go, a bona-fide hit that made my True Top Spenders of 2013 and is now everywhere at retail. So it's hard to fathom why Telebrands would test this project.

No conjecture on my part is likely to be true, so I'll just leave it at that.

Water Jet: Old Gold?

New Name: Turbo Jet

Current Marketer: Ontel
Current Producer: As Seen on Productions
Original Marketer: National Express
Original Hit Years: 2009-2010 (Nos. 54, 62 on JW Annual)
Website: www.BuyTurboJet.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I have only put out four annual True Top Spenders lists so far, but Water Jet is recent enough to have appeared on one of them (the first one for 2010). The repeat rate for most products is 7-10 years. Some categories repeat every 2-3 years (e.g. slicer/dicers) but never with the same item. As a result, I'm going to have to go with DRTV history and say it's too soon for this one to be a hit again.

As for the commercial, it's something special. I love the special camera they used to get that slow-motion, high-pressure effect!

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Press Painter. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Paint amazing works of art in seconds." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' Looked good to me ... which is why I don't often make predictions about kid items! [ss]
  3. Big Top Freeze Pop. Marketer: Global. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The super-size, super-delicious, super-fun frozen creation sensation." Comments: Speaking of kid items that looked good to me ... This is another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) Slushy Magic, Squeezy Freezy and even Ice Cream Magic -- but not this one? Doesn't make much sense to me. [ss]
  5. Cat Lick Stick. Pitch: "The amazing new cat brush that looks and feels like a cat's tongue." Comments: What's amazing is the bizarre things DR novices will try! [ss]
  7. Hair Genie. Marketer: National Express. Pitch: "The 100% instant hair remover that is pain free." Comments: This is essentially a Shave Bullet for women. I don't like the concept for men, and I like it even less for women! The problem is the way it looks: Women will either recognize it as a rotary shaver or perhaps think it's an old-school 'spring' epilator, neither association being a positive one. [ss]
  9. Silent Barrier. Marketer: Hampton. Pitch: "Amazing new (ultrasonic) training tool teaches pets where they can and can't go." Comments: Yet another 'fast fail.' Pet Command, Emson's recent foray into this 'old gold' category, doesn't seem to have gone very far, either. [ss]
  11. Strap Genie. Starring: Megan Gunning. Producer: Blue Moon. Pitch: "Clips onto any bra you own, giving you the lift, shape and support you want." Comments: This almost could have been a 'fast fail' round-up! This is yet another one. (Link again goes to spot.) As Strap Perfect showed, lift/cleavage alone isn't enough to sell a product like this on DRTV. It was only the addition of the 'hides bra straps' pitch that helped Strap Perfect break through where other projects (e.g. Cleavage Control Clips) had failed. [ss]

April 09, 2014

Magic Ottoman

Description: A collapsible ottoman
Main Pitch: "Instantly converts from a compact cushion to a full-size ottoman"
Main Offer: $19.99 from one in black, brown or cream
Bonus: 2nd one in the same color (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Akos Jankura
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.MagicOttoman.com
Prediction: On the fence

This product was tested by Allstar in 2011 under the name Store-Away Ottoman (see No. 10 in this Weekly Round-Up). Blue Moon produced the spot. And yet despite that power pairing, the project was a 'fast fail.'

It's unlike Telebrands to try something with which another major player has already failed. There are a few possibilities as to why this happened: 1) Telebrands didn't know it had been tested before (unlikely); 2) Telebrands agrees with me that while the third time is never the charm, the second time could very well be; 3) Telebrands believes timing was the issue and has new information.

Given the success of Allstar's Hot Designs, an item Telebrands had tested the year before without success (under the name Nail Doodle), I'm leading toward hypothesis No. 2. I also find No. 3 compelling. The more time I spend in this business, the more I am convinced timing is everything.

Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see what happens here. I liked this commercial and pitch enough to ignore past history and sit on the fence. That's saying something.

Static Magic

Description: A picture-mounting gadget
Main Pitch: "The fun, new way to show off all the stuff you make, love and want to save"
Main Offer: $14.99 for the system
Bonus: 24 sheets, 12 frames (free)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.GetStaticMagic.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

As I've admitted before, I don't know how to evaluate kid items in a way that I would normally feel confident making a prediction. However, I like this product enough that I am willing to make the call.

Speaking from experience, I know kids like nothing more than creating works of art and putting them on display. This taps into that desire and adds a healthy dose of magic (there's even a wand!) and play value. Should do well.

Zip Laces

Description: Zip-up replacement shoelaces
Main Pitch: "Lace 'em up once and then zip to put on, unzip to take off"
Main Offer: $10 for one pair in black, one pair in white
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay an additional fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: As Seen on Productions
Website: www.GetZipLaces.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

In DR, the third time is never the charm, and the fourth time is most certainly evidence of a Siren. So how to explain this project, which is Telebrands fourth attempt to sell shoelaces that don't need to be tied?

Here's the history:

  • In December of 2011, Telebrands tried kid-focused Ready Laces
  • In April of last year, Telebrands tried adult-focused Loafer Laces (see the bottom of this Telebrands Round-Up), which were a 'fast fail'
  • In July of last year, Telebrands tried kid and adult-focused Easy Ties (No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up), which were also a 'fast fail'
  • And now we have these kid-focused zipper laces

Needless to say, if this works I will have to rethink several of my beliefs and catch-phrases!

Bloomin' Onion: Old Gold?

New Name: Onion Bloom
Current Marketer: Ontel
Original Marketer: Telebrands, Ontel
Original Hit Year: 1998 (Nos. 14, 26 & 32 on the JW Annual)
Prediction: N/A

This is apparently a 'fast fail' as the Website (onionbloom.com) is no longer live. That makes sense given the "bloomin' onion" was a novelty and novelty wears off. Today, it's tortilla bowls and bacon bowls that have captured the popular imagination.

An interesting historical note: In 1998, no less than three onion blossom gadgets appeared on the JW Annual: Telebrands' Great American Steakhouse Onion Machine, the Sproutin' Onion (marketer unknown) and Ontel's Onion Gourmet.

April 03, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

Old Gold or Siren?

  1. Clever Clasp. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "The magnetic jewelry clasp that attaches to any necklace." Comments: With everyone else trying to bring this Old Gold (tone) item back (see Perfect Clasp, EZ Clasp), it makes sense for IdeaVillage to put their original spot back up to see what's what. If all three of these ultimately fail, this will become my first Old Gold Siren! Side note: Click through to see the original keychain demo. [ss]
  3. Clean & Green. Pitch: "Amazing carpet cleaner naturally removes stains and eliminates odors." Comments: This is essentially Mighty Blast, which failed back in 2009. It wasn't until the 'Mighty' marketing team combined this delivery method with Urine Gone that it became a hit called Stream Clean. In any case, this will fail like all other general-purpose cleaners have failed. [ss]
  5. Duct Tape Magic. Producer: As Seen on Productions. Pitch: "It takes the magic of duct tape and puts it into large sheets." Comments: I was surprised to learn this is an actual trend. It's so popular, in fact, that it's already available everywhere. [ss]
  7. Fab Foils. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: Get "salon style nail foil designs right at home." Comments: I'm too close to this one, so I'm just posting here for posterity. [ss]
  9. Flexable Hose Tough Grade. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "Five times tougher with ultra-durable metal connectors." Comments: Just following suit (see X-Hose Pro, Pocket Hose Ultra). Their answer to Richard Karn does a pretty good job. [ss]
  11. Gobblers. Pitch: "Snuggly fun travel pillows for kids." Comments: Perpetuated by fourth-quarter feeding frenzies, the Supreme Siren that is plush continues to claim new victims. [ss]
  13. Green Wave. Starring: Chef Rafael. Marketer: UbuyEZ. Pitch: "Go straight from your freezer right to your table for a delicious, healthy gourmet meal in just minutes." Comments: This is a combination of ideas (see Shogun Steamer, for example), most of which haven't gone anywhere. The fact that it features a confusing 'kitchen sink' offer won't help things. [ss]
  15. Harry the Happy Birthday Hyena. Marketer: Edison Nation. Pitch: "Laughs the happy birthday song so you can laugh along." Comments: Another truly bizarre choice for DRTV -- although not entirely without precedent (see Loudmouth Leo). I can tell you what I'd do if someone gave this to me for my birthday: Use it for target practice! [ss]
  17. Magic Pedi. Pitch: "The easiest and fast new way to remove dead, flaky skin." Comments: A 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) Reminds me of a larger version of Smart Inventions' One Step (see also Royal Pedi). [ss]
  19. Spicy Shelf. Pitch: "Turns a mess of spices into an organized masterpiece." Comments: This is Merchant Media's Swivel Store without the "wow," an attempt to bring back Old Gold with the opposite of a twist. Prediction: Bomb. Besides, it's too soon to try to revive the concept. [ss]
  21. Twist Lock. Pitch: "The fastest way to go from drilling to driving." Comments: Speaking of too soon -- this is reminiscent of Allstar's Half-Time Drill Driver, which was a hit just three years ago. Tough category, too. Even if you find TV success, the retail opportunity is limited. [ss]

April 01, 2014

Pocket Fisherman: Old Gold?

Current/Original Marketer: Ronco
Original Hit Year: 1972
Starring: Beau Rials
Website: www.PocketFisherman.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This product first became a hit before my time -- literally (I was born in 1973). So this attempt gives new meaning to the phrase "Old Gold." But unlike actual gold, DRTV products fade over time, and this product looks like it came off the original molds. A modern design, perhaps with a new product feature to boot, would have given this project a much better shot at success.

That said, I like the commercial. Beau always does an excellent job, and the creative team certainly used modern production techniques to shoot the spot. It looks as good as any fishing show I've seen.

The real determining factor here is going to be whether I'm right about the fishing category being dead for DR. So far, no matter how cool the item (see Strike 'N Set, Chum Chamber), no fishing item has made my True Top Spenders list. Can one of the oldest names in DR defy that trend? We'll see.

Fire & Ice Knife

Description: A chef's knife
Main Pitch: "Made from high-quality steel heated up to 2,000 degrees, then rapidly cooled and infused with Orgreenic non-stick technology"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the 9-inch knife
Bonus: 2nd one, 8-inch Orgeenic fry pan (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Chef Michael Ferraro
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Website: www.FireAndIceKnives.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

As much as I liked Sharpware, I don't like this product. For one thing, it doesn't have the "sharpens itself for life" pitch, which is cool and unique. And unlike AeroKnife, which at least had a visible point of difference built into its design, this looks like a plain-old knife (albeit green in color).

To me, the whole "fire and ice" thing plays like the gimmick it is, and the non-stick claim falls flat because: a) it's a position that has already been taken by the aforementioned AeroKnife, which is currently at retail; and b) this isn't a ceramic knife, so we're left to wonder what "Ogreenic non-stick technology" is supposed to mean.

That said, the commercial was well conceived and executed, and Chef Ferraro is obviously a skilled knife-worker. The demos were pretty standard fare, but it would be a mistake to deviate too far from what has worked so well in the past. Actually, I hadn't seen the coconut demo before which, along with the block-of-ice demo, added "wow" and credibility to the spot.

If not for the product, I might have predicted success for this one as well. One thing is for sure: Telebrands is leaving no room for competition in the knife category.

Zip Sox

Description: Compression socks
Main Pitch: "[They] soothe and revitalize, giving you pep back in your step"
Main Offer: $12.99 for a pair
Bonus: 2nd pair (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.ZipSox.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Are compression garments a category? Or are Ankle Genie (short form) and Tommie Copper (long form/short form) outliers? One thing is certain: Telebrands and its chief competitors are very busy trying to answer that question ... which is great for students of DRTV like me. In short order, we will reach the required number of attempts to apply my "one is an outlier, three is a category" rule.

As for this product, it strikes me as more of a deluxe version of Ankle Genie than a separate item. Unless Telebrands has a line extension planned (quite possible), they will run afoul of another of my rules: "There's only room for one" (even if you own the one).