June 12, 2014

Be Active

Description:A solution for sciatica pain
Main Pitch: "Instantly helps ease discomfort in your lower back, buttocks and legs"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Concepts
Website: www.BeActiveBrace.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I could easily rely on a catch-phrase here to explain why I think this project won't work (can you guess which one?), but category history tells the tale. Since the Back Relief Belt was a modest success in 2006 (No. 55 on the JW Annual that year), no attempt to find a hit in the back-relief category has been successful -- at least not in short form. My 2012 Happy Back review details the history.

Even a 2012 attempt to bring back the Back Relief Belt itself failed. On top of that, this particular item has a credibility barrier to overcome and claims to worry about. I wouldn't have gone forward, but I'm sure the Top Dog guys know something I don't.

Yo Baby Kick Flipper

Description: A skateboard training aid
Main Pitch: "Learn to skateboard like the pros"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one plus DVD, stickers and poster
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Website: www.MyYoBaby.com
Prediction: N/A

I have no criteria or data to help me guess whether a product such as this can be successful on DRTV. The price is right, but the category is all over the place. For instance, the last item I can think of like this one was Tristar's Zike at $200. No idea if it was successful or what success even looks like in this category since this isn't your typical ASOTV end-cap item.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Bike Lightning. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "Trick out your ride with these super-bright LED lights." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail' (link goes to spot). Cool product and a well-done spot. But as I've often lamented, kid products are highly unpredictable. [ss]
  3. Curl Girl. Pitch: "Get salon quality hair styles at home." Marketer: Viatek. Comments: This category has improved from 1 in 50 to 1 in 25 thanks to the pioneering work of Allstar ... but 1 in 25 is still below-average odds. [ss]
  5. Face Bright. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "Transforms a regular bathroom mirror into a perfectly lit makeup mirror in seconds." Comments: Another 'fast fail' (link goes to spot). My guess is women already have a favorite vanity that does what they need it to do. If not, there are tons of options out there. [ss]
  7. Pocket Shot. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Mounts any phone, in any case, anywhere." Comments: Will it launch? I doubt it. My thinking on camera-phone accessories is they defeat the purpose. A camera phone is highly portable and always at hand. If you are prepared enough to carry an additional accessory, you're prepared enough to pack your real camera and tripod/monopod/etc. [ss]
  9. Tatt Over. Pitch: "Hide your tattoo the easy way." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: Yet another 'fast fail.' Because of the 'segment of a segment' problem, nothing to do with tattoos has fared well on DRTV (e.g. Hena Tatz, Kickin' Ink). IdeaVillage's Shimmer is the closest thing that had success. And this product sought to serve a segment of the sub-segment that likes (or liked) tattoos. [ss]

June 11, 2014

Secret Cinch

Description: A cinch for pants
Main Pitch: "Your secret to closing that revealing waistband gap for good"
Main Offer: $10 for three plus Secret Hem Tape
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Jennifer Higgins
Marketer: On Demand
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.SecretCinch.com
Prediction: On the fence

If Ms. Higgins is truly the inventor of this product, which would imply she's not an experienced presenter, I'm impressed. She does an excellent job of pitching her invention.

As for the product, I'm undecided because of the mixed history. On the bright side, a solution for hiding 'plumber's crack' has been successful: Allstar's Trendy Top was a 2012 True Top Spender. On the other hand, belts that have addressed this problem flopped in both 2010 (Ontel's Slim Belt) and 2011 (Allstar's IncrediBelt).

A working hypothesis: Perhaps garment solutions are more appealing than belts or cinches for some reason. I'm tempted to add that attaching something to one's clothing could be a reason why (in this case), but it didn't seem to hurt Merchant's Style Snaps (a 2011 True Top Spender).

June 06, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Touch Purse. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "Little purse holds it all and ... lets you use your touch-screen phone without having to remove it." Comments: This one was No. 23 on the Jordan Whitney last week, so I'm just posting for posterity. [ss]
  3. Pasta Swing. Starring: Mario Rizzotti. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Cook, drain and serve pasta from one pan." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' (You can still watch the amusing spot on YouTube.) I like this product, but this is the second time it has been tried on DRTV without success. The first time was a 2008 Allstar test under the name Pivot Pot. [ss]
  5. BBQ Dragon. Pitch: "Supercharge your BBQ with the revolutionary fire starter." Comments: I love to grill and would love to have this product. But even I'm not paying $50 for it! The difficulties of capitalizing on grill season have also been detailed on this blog before. Guess we'll see how the Miracle Grill Mat and Yoshi Grill & Bake Mat end up doing at retail. [ss]
  7. Fing. Pitch: "The ultimate game controller for your touch-screen device." Comments: Wrong demo for DR, and so far nothing in this general category has worked. [ss]
  9. Swing N Shape. Producer: Avalanche. Pitch: "The new, better way to tone your whole body." Comments: I can't think of a recent female fitness success in short form, but feel free to use the comments section to correct me if I'm wrong. [ss]
  11. Swipets. Pitch: "Pulls pet hair from virtually everything." Comments: This project has been tried using all different kinds of creatives. A DR attempt is here. But this one is my favorite! Anyway, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere. As for the category, here's a brief history: Power Picker Upper/Magic Lint Remover (two hits in the 'Golden Age'), Lint Wizard Pro (flop in 2008), Mr. Sticky (flop in 2009), Sticky Wicky (flop in 2010), Pet Hair Picksy (flop in 2010) and Schticky/Sticky Buddy (two True Top Spenders for 2012). So the history is decidedly mixed. [ss]
  13. Titan Chef. Pitch: "Super balance, cutting power and resilience." Comments: Although this project doesn't have much to offer in the way of a point of difference, the value proposition is certainly unbeatable. It will be interesting to see what happens given knife history is all over the place. For every Yoshi Blade and Aero Knife, there's a Yoshi Glide and Fire & Ice Knife. And the Sharpware steak knives I really liked don't seem to have gone anywhere. [ss]

June 03, 2014


(Note: Last box added by me!)

Description: A sex toy
Main Pitch: "A personal massage at your fingertips"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one with zipper pouch
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay processing)
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.GetuJoy.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

In 1999, two sex toys appeared on the Jordan Whitney annual chart: Merchant Media's Fuzuoko 9000 at No. 6 (changed from the original name, "Fukuoko") and a Telebrands follower called Vibra Touch at No. 23. Back then, you couldn't get away with putting a sex toy on TV unless you followed the print trick of pretending it was a "personal massager" for any area except the intended area.

Fifteen years later, Church & Dwight has advanced the industry by advertising sex toys without pretending they're for shoulder and neck pain (which would be difficult given the names they've chosen). Briefly: Their Vibrating Touch appeared on the DRTV charts from 2008 to 2011, topping out at No. 2 on the 2011 JW Annual. That year, their Tri-Phoria was also No. 41 on the IMS Top 50. The following year, a re-branded Trojan Vibrations campaign was No. 7 on the JW Annual, and Vibrating Twister was No. 12 on the IMS Top 50.

Each of these campaigns took a subtle approach -- women whispering to each other, women with their hair blown back, a strong push to go online for testimonials, etc. -- but none used the old "personal massager" lie as more than a descriptor. Which brings me to this project ...

Like the first time it was tested (see uTouch, No. 9 in this Weekly Round-Up), the product revives the lie -- except now the creative team has decided to borrow a few pages from the Church & Dwight playbook at the same time. That might seem like a good idea at first: Looking back at my first review, the creative was so subtle that even I was left to wonder if the uTouch was trying to be "a real personal massager." But the effect of the decision to be more obvious this time around is a commercial that is more disturbing than funny. America could chuckle at the corny jokes in any of Blue Moon's commercials for Church & Dwight, but not so in this case. By the time the product disappears under the table and the woman starts moaning, even though you know she's going to be massaging something innocuous, you feel like cringing instead of laughing.

Returning to the category for a moment, the recent failure of Media Enterprises' One Massager made me wonder: Perhaps like many categories from the 'Golden Age' of DRTV, this category was killed by the Internet. Looking at retail, DR marketers might be tempted to think of sex toys as an open category -- but that's just because retailers value their public images and because most people prefer the discretion of ordering online. That last point means the entire Internet is the real competition products in this category face, and that makes this a very crowded category. Indeed, only a company with Church & Dwight's clout, ad budgets and background (they have sold retailers condoms for decades, after all) can make it work.

Astro Tape

Description: Magnetic tape
Main Pitch: "Strong adhesive backing on one side and a powerful magnet on the other"
Main Offer: $10 for one roll
Bonus: 2nd roll (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Ruthie Jesseman
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.GetAstroTape.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

As regular readers of this blog know, one of my least-favorite DRTV phrases is "space age." This commercial takes the idea behind that phrase and turns it into a concept for an entire commercial ..!

Once again, folks: The "space age" is over. It went out with Tang and freeze-dried ice cream. No one can name a single astronaut these days without going back a generation. (Hint: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock don't count.) Heck, we don't even have a Space Shuttle anymore!

Putting aside the poor choice of positioning here, this item is a well-known catalog seller that has even graced the cover a few times. I myself have considered it for DRTV. The problem: Once you get past a few, fairly weak usage ideas (nails and screws, vacuum), you end up with a string of strange applications with zero mass appeal (e.g. the image above).

Bell + Howell Ultra Bulb

Description: An LED bulb
Main Pitch: "Can last over 10 years without burning out"
Main Offer: $19.99 for two bulbs
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Website: www.BuyUltraBulb.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Thanks to new legislation, there's a lot of confusion -- and an explosion of choices -- in the light-bulb category right now. This pitch only adds to the confusion, and confusion is a sales killer. Even as an expert, I found it hard to identify a main point in the spot. Is it that this bulb works everywhere your old bulbs did? That it's better than a CFL? That it shines light in every direction? That it lasts more than 10 years? Or that it's cool to the touch?

Ultimately, though, this violates an even more important principle of DR: Create value. Old bulbs cost a few bucks each, if that. These are two for $19.99 for dim, 40-watt bulbs, and two for $29.99 if you want standard, 60-watt bulbs. (Figuring that out, by the way, required consulting a confusing chart on the home page.) Such pricing may be the new reality in this category, but consumers are still anchored to the old pricing, which creates a serious value-perception problem. And there are still a ton of cheaper options on the shelf.

How Sweet It Is!

Description: A sugar-based waxing alternative
Main Pitch: "The first hair remover made just for your face"
Main Offer: $10 for a jar plus 24 strips, 12 applicators
Bonus: 2nd jar (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Top Dog
Website: www.BuyHowSweet.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This fails two of my SciMark Seven criteria. The product isn't different enough to get people's attention, at least in my opinion, and the category is crowded with brands that already have loyal customers.

Rainbow Mist

Description: A sprinkler
Main Pitch: "Generates an even mist that floats down softly and pampers your grass, plants and flowers"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one with automatic shut-off timer
Bonus: Tough-Grade Flexable Hose (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Website: www.BuyRainbowMist.com
Prediction: On the fence

So far, sprinklers have a poor track record on DRTV. Both Ontel's Smart Sprinkler (2012) and Telebrands' Triple Play Sprinkler (2013) were flops.

That said, I really like the problem/solution here, and the secondary "rainbow" pitch -- i.e., that it creates a "dazzling nighttime light show" of "multi-colored lights" -- adds needed 'wow.' I wouldn't be surprised if this one did well.